Team RLZ Motorsports with the founding members of the company

Bengaluru-based trailblazer of a startup RLZ Motorsports Pvt Ltd is reshaping the narrative of carbon fiber manufacturing while defying convention and fusing artistry with cutting-edge technology. Let’s unravel its founding story and explore the challenges it has surmounted to savor its success.

RLZ Motorsports Pvt Ltd, headquartered in Bengaluru, is India’s first automotive pre-impregnated carbon fiber composite parts manufacturer. Founded in 2014 by Tilak Gowda, the company’s vision was to engineer lightweight, high-strength carbon fiber 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, he is a skilled motorcycle stunt rider and led a motorsport team named RLZ.  As a prominent stunting team in India, they showcased their stunting prowess in stunt shows for various automobile brands such as Bajaj and Honda. As a motorsport enthusiast, he recognized the dire need for lightweight materials to reduce vehicle weight that can consequently enhance speed and revolutionize motorsports.

He is also an artist by passion, and, hence, has a keen eye for aesthetics and beauty in complicated mechanical components. These combined interests led to the inception of RLZ Motorsports where the strength, performance, and aesthetics of carbon fiber composite materials can give cutting-edge performance to automobiles. Leveraging his extensive knowledge in manufacturing, aerodynamics, and metallurgy, Tilak oversees the entire product development process at RLZ Motorsports.

In this journey, Kavana Gowda, his wife, has assumed a crucial role in managing the company’s finances, while Gaurav Sham, the Director of the company, handles the company’s operational and procurement aspects.

“I joined RLZ in 2021. I am an aerospace engineer turned entrepreneur and founded the first LED lighting company in India to create a range of LED lighting solutions for various industries. The company was later acquired by Havells,” shares Nikhil Das, Director, RLZ Motorsports Pvt Ltd.

In his quest to channel his career, RLZ Motorsports captured his interest as an immensely promising venture, offering cutting-edge carbon fiber products to prime customers of the Aerospace industry including NAL, Honeywell, and Collins.

Over the years, the company shifted its focus towards the Automotive industry, recognizing the immense potential for pre-impregnated carbon fiber parts. With over a decade of experience in innovation, analysis, and development, it has strengthened its position as a premier full-service manufacturer, specializing in top-tier carbon fiber automobile composites. RLZ Motorsports has emerged as a dominant player in the Indian market and holds an oligopoly in the global industry.

“Carbon fiber is a unique material that is increasingly capturing the attention of major automotive companies, driving RLZ Motorsports to develop a diverse product range that meets the cutting-edge demands of the Automotive industry,” adds Das.

Carbon fiber’s triumph in auto evolution

Despite its higher cost, carbon fiber’s advantages are undeniable in the Automotive industry where a significant goal is the substantial reduction of vehicle weight to achieve heightened engine power and reduced fuel consumption.

“Carbon fiber serves as a substitute for metal, boasting a weight that is merely one-tenth of metal’s weight, making it exceptionally lightweight. Moreover, it is non-flammable and resistant to corrosion. Its flexibility allows for customized shaping and usage as per specific requirements, unlike metals. In terms of power-to-weight ratio, carbon fiber surpasses metals, leading to enhanced engine power,” explains Das.

Additionally, carbon fiber contributes to superior aerodynamics in vehicles compared to metal, as it can be easily molded into shapes that optimize aerodynamic efficiency. Carbon fibers are the preferred material in sports cars and bikes, enabling exceptionally high speeds and outstanding balance.

Catering to the demand

Initially, Das reveals, there was a lot of resistance in the market to adopt carbon fiber composites, mainly because automotive companies could not gauge an Indian company manufacturing high-end carbon fiber composites. “The majority of carbon fiber manufacturing companies are concentrated in Germany or Japan, and there were no players in this domain within the APAC region. However, this skepticism subsided as a few companies, including BMW and TVS, approached us with specific requirements,” he points out. “Coming from an aerospace background, the entire RLZ Motorsports team found it relatively easy to develop the required products. Remarkably, we managed to deliver the initial products in under 25 days.”

“The precision, quality, and timely delivery impressed our clients, leading them to recognize our potential. Consequently, we started receiving bulk orders, attracting attention from major global automotive companies. Presently, RLZ Motorsports is a key supplier of pre-impregnated carbon fiber composite parts to a wide array of major brands in India and internationally,” he reveals.

Innovation in every fiber

RLZ Motorsports’ unique approach is deeply rooted in Gowda’s artistic vision, ensuring a harmonious blend of style and functionality in every component. “He personally designs and meticulously inspects each component as per specified guidelines. Additionally, stringent quality control measures are defined with precise tolerance levels to ensure international standards in design and development. This distinct approach makes our products unique, giving us a competitive advantage on a global scale,” says Das.

The R&D team, under Gowda’s leadership, stands at the forefront of innovation. It recently developed a carbon fiber fuel tank, which required nearly two years to achieve precise tolerance with oil or petrol. “In another breakthrough, we significantly reduced the chassis weight from 14 kg to merely 3 kg using carbon fiber. This achievement stands as a monumental advancement in the Automotive sector, which is constantly in search of means to decrease overall vehicle weight,” he adds.

The company’s choice of a specialized team for precision cutting reflects its innovative approach to manufacturing. The engineering department comprises a team of 10 individuals, complemented by a production team of 10 more. Interestingly, a specialized team of 70 to 80 female staff, all with a background in the Garment industry, are responsible for the precision cutting of carbon fiber. “This unique choice is because carbon fiber is a fabric-like material, and these skilled women possess an innate understanding of the precision cutting requirements of this material,” he explains.

Collaborating with the best

RLZ Motorsports’ impressive clientele, including BMW and Hero, signifies its global recognition, and these collaborations were forged through meticulous testing. “Given our collaboration with companies building racing bikes, our components undergo rigorous testing by some of the world’s top racing teams. It is evident that these companies exclusively select the best and most advanced technologies available globally,” he stresses. “Working closely with these companies provides us with invaluable insights into the future of the Automotive industry. Thus, we find ourselves at the forefront of innovation, eliminating the need to invest effort in predicting upcoming trends. We are future-ready already compared to other companies.”

Quality control is paramount at RLZ Motorsports, with a stringent seven-gate process ensuring that all quality parameters are met at every stage of product development. “This meticulous process guarantees that all quality parameters are met at each stage of the product development cycle,” he further says. “Consequently, our customers receive products of the highest quality with every individual component.”

Integrating sustainability

At RLZ, sustainability is a core focus at every stage of its process flow, aligning with its goal to achieve a sustainable approach. “Our products are environmentally friendly and of utmost quality,” notes Das.

Internationally, the production of carbon fiber fabrics is limited to a handful of companies. Consequently, RLZ sources its materials from vendors who guarantee adherence to pre-established quality standards for each sheet. “Our quality parameters are exceptionally strict, ensuring the highest quality standards.

Additionally, all our materials are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), emphasizing our commitment to minimizing environmental impacts. Our production process is devoid of any harmful materials,” he adds.

Exciting developments

The company is gearing up for a foray into the Electric Vehicle (EV) sector, focusing on leveraging carbon fiber’s weight-reduction properties to enhance EV efficiency. Das explains, “Every EV manufacturer is focused on maximizing its range, and this can be achieved in two ways. Firstly, by augmenting the battery capacity, which, in turn, increases the vehicle weight. Secondly, by substantially reducing the vehicle’s body weight, an area where carbon fiber can play a vital role.”

The Director also envisions the company becoming the leading producer of pre-impregnated carbon fiber parts globally. With an ambitious goal to supply every automotive company across the world, RLZ Motorsports aims to revolutionize the Automotive industry with its cutting-edge products.

Sovan Tudu

Senior Sub-editor

Magic Wand Media Inc

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