Race to Precision and Performance

#NikhilDas #RLZMotorsports #CarbonFibreComponents

Source: Niranjan Mudholkar

“Motorsport is where carbon fibre is used extensively, where the material is tested for precision, balance, aerodynamics, strength and perfection. This, in fact, gives us an edge while pitching the brand to any customers. All we need to do is take the reference of F1 and MotoGP machines to refer to the usage of carbon fibre in those high-end vehicles.”

December 2023 : In this exclusive interaction with Niranjan Mudholkar, Editorial Director, Nikhil Das, Co-founder, RLZ Motorsports Pvt Ltd shares that with over a decade of experience in innovation, analysis and development, RLZ Motorsports has strengthened its position as a manufacturer of top-tier carbon fibre automobile composites. Today, the company has emerged as a dominant player in the global market. “Currently, we hold an oligopoly in this industry as there are very few companies working in this area. However, globally there is a rising demand for lightweight materials across the automotive sectors. Thus, this is the right time for us to tap the opportunities and expand our outreach,” he adds.

What was the motivation behind starting RLZ Motorsports, India’s first automotive pre-impregnated carbon fibre composite parts manufacturing company?

Founded in 2014 by Tilak Gowda, the company’s vision was to engineer lightweight, high-strength carbon fibre components primarily for aerospace enterprises.

Tilak has in-depth experience in drone manufacturing which intrigued him towards intricate design and mechanisms of aerospace components. Moreover, as a skilled motorcycle stunt rider, he understands the impact of lightweight materials in high-speed vehicles. He is also an artist by passion, giving him a keen eye for aesthetics and beauty in complicated mechanical components.

These combined interests led to the inception of RLZ where the strength, performance and aesthetics of carbon fibre composite materials can give cutting-edge performance to automobiles. Leveraging his extensive knowledge in manufacturing, aerodynamics and metallurgy, RLZ was born.

Over the years, RLZ shifted its focus towards the automotive industry recognizing the immense potential for pre-impregnated carbon fibre parts in this industry. With over a decade of experience in innovation, analysis and development, RLZ Motorsports has strengthened its position as a manufacturer of top-tier carbon fibre automobile composites. The company has emerged as a dominant player in the global market.

Why do you have the term ‘Motorsports’ in your organization’s name? Doesn’t that kind of limit your scope in the market?

Motorsport is where carbon fibre is used extensively, where the material is tested for precision, balance, aerodynamics, strength and perfection. This, in fact, gives us an edge while pitching the brand to any customers. All we need to do is take the reference of F1 and MotoGP machines to refer to the usage of carbon fibre in those high-end vehicles. It does not limit our scope, instead, it opens up many opportunities in industries that are hungry for lightweight, high-strength material.

I understand that while you bring a solid entrepreneurial and corporate experience, the other co-founders bring a heady mix of art and sports background. How has that impacted RLZ's evolution as an organization?

That’s what makes RLZ so unique! Our diverse backgrounds and different capabilities merge to make a dynamic team while our different perspectives bring in a symbiosis of new ideas. The core manufacturing and designing team comes from an aerospace background, an area that is defined by its penchant for precision and quality. Thus, it makes it relatively easy for them to develop products for the automotive industry.

Furthermore, Tilak is an exceptionally skilled motorcycle stunt rider and has led a motorsport team named RLZ. As a motorsport enthusiast, he recognizes the dire need for lightweight materials to reduce vehicle weight that can consequently enhance speed and revolutionize motorsports. Adding to that, he is an artist as well, which helps him to bring in aesthetics in cold mechanical parts. Overall, the entire team is focused on bringing quality and precision to every part that we manufacture and that’s what has helped RLZ Motorsports to reach the position that it has achieved today.

Tell us something about your manufacturing capacities and capabilities. How are you optimizing the shop floor costs while maintaining high-quality standards?

Our products are tested by high-end motorsport vehicle manufacturers where cost is not the factor but quality, precision and dynamism of the products are of utmost importance. We have been supplying carbon fibre parts to some of the biggest names in motorsports and our components undergo rigorous testing by some of the world’s top racing teams where only the best and the most advanced technologies are selected.

The automotive industry too has taken account of this level of quality and precision and presently, RLZ Motorsports has become a key supplier of pre-impregnated carbon fibre composite parts to a wide array of major brands in India and abroad. Hence, there is no way of compromising quality over cost.

However, today, the automotive industry is striving to reduce the weight of the vehicle and carbon fibre is the optimum solution to drastically bring in weight reduction. This, in turn helps automotive manufacturers to bring down the overall cost of manufacturing, which is the ultimate goal!!

Sustainability is a driving factor not just for the automotive sector but also for the overall manufacturing industry today. What is RLZ Motorsports’ approach on this front?

Pre-impregnated carbon fibre material is free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and thus has minimal environmental impacts. We source our materials from vendors who guarantee adherence to pre-established quality standards for each carbon fibre sheet. We also adhere to exceptionally strict quality parameters to ensure the highest quality standards.

We further ensure that our production process is devoid of any harmful materials. Thus, sustainability forms the core focus at every stage of our process flow. Our products are environmentally friendly and of utmost quality.

With the EV sector’s huge focus on weight reduction, what scope do you see for carbon fibre as a material and the role of RLZ in this scenario?

Exactly! The Electric Vehicle (EV) sector holds a huge potential. One of the major concerns of EVs today is their range capability which can be achieved in two ways- primarily, by augmenting the battery capacity, which however increases the vehicle weight. Secondly, by substantially reducing the vehicle’s body weight, an area where carbon fibre can play a vital role.

Carbon fibre’s unique property can replace conventional body parts of a vehicle and significantly bring down the weight by one-tenth and enhance vehicle efficiency. This is a huge reduction for an industry that is desperately trying to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle to enhance its efficiency and range.

As you have mentioned, RLZ started its journey as a supplier to the aerospace industry. Does that industry still beckon you?

Yes, we do support a few of our old clients. However, the primary focus of the organization has shifted to the automotive industry. Apart from two-wheelers, we are also supplying CF parts and products to the car manufacturing industry and we are doing extremely well in that segment as well.

What about other industries where there is immense scope for carbon fibre composite parts like construction, drones, oil & gas or medical devices?

Carbon fibre can be useful in any industry that requires low-weight, high-strength materials. Carbon fibre is merely one-tenth of metal’s weight, making it exceptionally lightweight. Moreover, it is non-flammable and corrosion-resistant. It is also extremely flexible and can be moulded into complicated shapes. With these, carbon fibre materials can be used in several industries that predominantly use metal or plastic parts.

A few companies have approached us to replace their heavy plastic and metal parts used in artificial limbs with carbon fibre to make them more user-friendly. As more and more people understand that there is a material available that can substitute the strength of metal and weighs less than plastic, there will be a huge opportunity for this material in various industries.

Tell us about RLZ’s foray into global markets.

Currently, we hold an oligopoly in this industry as there are very few companies working in this area. However, globally there is a rising demand for lightweight materials across the automotive sectors. Thus, this is the right time for us to tap the opportunities and expand our outreach. We have major plans to scale our brand globally and open stores in major cities such as Dubai, Singapore, and several other locations in the APAC region.

Where do you see RLZ in the next five years in terms of market position as well as brand presence?

We will be partnering with most of the automotive manufacturers as a design house and production house for carbon composite parts. We aim to see RLZ Motorsports’ pre-impregnated carbon fibre parts in every automotive company across the globe in the future.

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