Companies

Ather Energy to look beyond 2-wheelers in 5 years

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on February 12, 2020 Published on February 12, 2020

Tarun Mehta, Co-founder and CEO, Ather Energy   -  BusinessLine

EV player keen to raise more funds after July

Bengaluru-based electric scooter manufacturing start-up Ather Energy is considering expanding beyond the two-wheeler space that it currently operates in, in the next 4-5 years, said the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Tarun Mehta. It is looking at raising more funds through a Series D route after July, once its new product, the 450X, is on the road, he said.

The Hero Moto Corp Ltd-backed start-up will be directing these funds more towards operations, expansion and sales this time, as opposed to the earlier pronounced focus on research and development, he said. The last round of fund-raising was through the Series C route. The company has raised ₹675 crore through equity funding so far.

After focussing on expanding in the premium segment with the 450X, and expanding geographically in the next two years, Ather Energy may look at building a more mass market product, said Mehta.

Also, in 4-5 years, it may look at expanding beyond two-wheelers to other categories.

“The reason it makes sense to go beyond two-wheelers is because, ultimately, we see ourselves as a company that is in the energy business — in the long term. Which is why I am super excited about charging, in batteries and the usage of them. (That is), the overall product usage, more than just the manufacturing,” said Mehta.

While he did not comment on the exact electric product category it will be looking at foraying into, he said that trucks are where the real energy consumption happens. He said he is “not that excited about cars”.

“I think we have some really good players in the car space. I don’t think it will make sense for Ather to come four years later with a car — it is unlikely,” he said.

Geographic expansion

The company’s focus for the next two years will be on its geographic expansion than on bringing in products, though the products may get some improvements, said Mehta. Currently, present only in Bengaluru and Chennai, it is looking at being in 10 more cities by the end of FY21, and 24 cities by FY22.

It will be adding Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune by July, he said. Every city is likely to get one dealership at least, but cities such as Mumbai and Delhi will get multiple dealerships, he said. It currently has two products, Ather 450 and Ather 450X.

The company’s charging stations, called ‘Ather Grid’, will also see an expansion to more than 200 charging points by FY21, and more than 1000 charging points by FY22. Until now, the company was importing cells and motors for its products, but from March onwards, motors is going to be localised. Only the cells will be imported from March, said Mehta.

Meanwhile, mainstream internal combustion engine players such as Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor Company have forayed into the electric vehicle space recently. When asked about this, Mehta said that the anchoring provided by this factor has helped Ather Energy.

“I think legacy players launching EVs really helps with interest and awareness that we otherwise can’t drum up ourselves. It is expensive for us,” he said.

He said the 450X wouldn’t have procured the kind of pre-ordering it did if not for the increased awareness about EVs post the launch of the Chetak by Bajaj Auto.

Published on February 12, 2020
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