A file photo of founder Tarun Mehta. Photo: Mint
Bengaluru: Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd, an electric two-wheeler maker and technology start-up, will invest Rs.23 crore to set up a manufacturing unit in Whitefield, Bengaluru, to produce its first electric scooter.
Founded by Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain at the IIT Madras research park, Ather’s new one-and-half-acre unit will be ready for commercial production by the end of 2016.
Ather raised $12 million from Tiger Global in May last year, and raised $1 million from online marketplace Flipkart’s co-founders, Sachin and Binny Bansal in December 2014.
The company will unveil its S340 electric scooter at technology summit Surge 2016 later this month.
According to data from industry body Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, sales of electric two-wheelers stood at 21,000 units in the April-December 2015 period, compared with 7,000 in the year-ago period. But all electric vehicles, two- and four-wheelers account for less than 1% of total vehicle sales in the country.
Ather’s new unit will have a battery unit and have the capacity to produce 50 scooters a day at peak production. Batteries are the costliest component of the vehicle and the company is developing technology that will charge the battery in just an hour and last almost 50,000 km. The vehicle has a top speed of 72 km.
“The vehicle will have a 3G SIM card, enable constant data transfer and updates,” Mehta said about the S340, which will have an LED dashboard complete with Google Maps.
The scooter will also be able to provide gamified demonstrations to the rider on better and more efficient driving conditions for optimal use of battery power and safer riding techniques.
“The scooter can have as many as 48-51 features,” Mehta said, but clarified that they will release it with limited features and upgrade it over time. The battery technology, fabrication and other aspects of the scooter are being developed by the company itself. The motor is imported from Europe.
Mehta said that with the new manufacturing unit, it will hire 60-70 people, taking its total number of employees above 150 by the end of the year.
Ather wants to be part of the government’s ambitious National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 that aims to put seven million electric and hybrid vehicles on Indian roads by 2020. This mission was further complemented by the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) announced in April last year, which will provide Rs.795 crore financial assistance to electronic vehicle makers till 2020.