Ather Energy invented India’s first smart electric scooter. What was the idea behind building this scooter and what were the challenges that you came across during this period?
We began Ather in 2013 with the belief that the future of mobility is electric and connected. We wanted to build a product line which would be unique, in design as well as owner experience. The major challenges we faced were around the absence of a vendor base to help with building the vehicle or the components that went in. This led us to develop in-house capabilities and today, a majority of the components that go in the vehicle are designed and developed by us.
With the government announcing ‘National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020,’ do you think India is ready for a fullfledged adoption of EV and will NEMMP give a boost to the sales of smart electric vehicle?
NEMMP 2020 was unveiled to address the issues India has been facing in energy security, pollution and development of manufacturing capabilities in the energy domain. Under the plan, there will be a major transition to electric vehicles by 2030; the FAME I & II scheme will drive localisation, technological development, demand creation through increased incentives to manufacturers and investment in developing the charging infrastructure. These measures will encourage automakers with serious intent to manufacture high-performance automobile and pave way to an increased adoption of EVs. We believe, the wide popularity of two wheelers and its large market share will drive the shift to smart electric vehicles in India and it will be driven by the rising demand from consumers. Progressive measures that are being introduced by the government for developing EV ecosystem include – a long-term outlook for electrification of mobility, increased investment in the industry and direct fiscal benefits like FAME-II, reduced GST, etc, which will make EVs more affordable and attractive to end-consumers.
What sets Ather electric scooters apart from other similar electric two-wheeler making companies/competitors?
We at Ather have designed new innovative ways to disrupt the industry. We are using technology and intelligence to provide a holistic and delightful experience to our customers, right from pre-purchase to a hassle-free post-purchase experience. We have introduced the first of its kind business model in the two-wheeler industry – an ecosystem of differentiated experience, whether it’s the flagship Ather One subscription plan, the leasing plan, experience centres, the doorstep service model, customer support, consumer experience or the after-sales service.
What are some of your major achievements till date?
We have assembled one of the largest R&D cells for EVs in the country and are a vertically integrated company with 51 patent applications and 11 international ones. We recently raised $51 mn; this funding will help us in ramping up production and scale across major cities in the country. We are already present in two cities – Bengaluru and Chennai and have set up 50 charging points at 40 locations and a first of its kind Ather Experience Center across the two cities. We have also received recognition for our efforts, awards for the products we have built, and the response that we receive from our customer base continues to inspire us to take on new challenges.
What is your venture’s long-term and short-term goals?
We are developing the entire EV ecosystem from manufacturing a smart vehicle to setting up the charging infrastructure. Ather Grid, our charging infrastructure, with both public and private charging options, will be open to all electric vehicles with the aim of encouraging adoption and providing a hassle-free charging experience for everyone. We will be expanding into major cities across the country starting with Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi and Mumbai. We aim at extending our charging infrastructure network with 6500 EV charging points to 30 cities by 2023.