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After raising money from Ratan Tata, Coimbatore-based Ampere now plans to raise Rs 20 cr

Ampere is the first automobile start-up investment for Tata

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

After raising money from Ratan Tata recently, Coimbatore-based electric vehicle start-up Ampere Vehicles Pvt Ltd has said it is planning to raise another Rs 20 crore and said it is also open for a strategic partner. Ampere is the first automobile start-up investment for Tata.

The money which was raised and which will be raised will be used to scale up operations, hire talent, to build brand and will be spent on R&D. The company want to make the product 100 per cent indigenous, compared to 75 per cent currently.

Ampere Vehicles Founder and CEO Hemalatha Annamalai said that Tata's investment in the company is not only an endorsement for Ampere, but also for the electric vehicle industry. Tata's investment into the company came after it worked with the veteran industrialist for nearly six months. The amount invested by Tata into the company is not disclosed.

She, along with her husband, founded the company in 2008 after they returned from Singapore. The inspiration came from a prototype of a Japanese electric car.

The couple gave up their well-paid tech jobs and sold their $1.8 million apartment in Singapore before they moved to Coimbatore, Manchester of South India, to found Ampere, according to their earlier interviews.

Hemalatha Annamalai has around 15 years of experience building and turning around companies in the areas of professional recruitment, technology training, travel and professional services and her husband was an engineer with a specialty in electric motors.

Ampere was named after the scientist Andre-Marie Ampere who theorised the science of classical electromagnetism. Most of the 19th century innovations and developments in the field of magnetism and electricity were based on this concept. The unit of measurement of electric current, A (amp or ampere), is named after him. And hence, with all companies vehicles functioning on batteries, it was decided to take up his name, according to Ampere's website.

The company currently manufactures e-scooters, e-cycles, e-three wheelers and customised vehicles including e-trolley and golfcart).

According to Annamalai, main focus markets are tier-II and tier-III towns and objective is to give affordable commuting solutions for rural India, which attracted Tata, who initiated the development of the small car Nano as an affordable commuting solution for the urban and rural India.

Currently, the company sells the products in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka and is set to enter Andhra Pradesh soon. "We are not looking at pan-India operations for now," she said.

On the funds raised, she said that besides marketing and hiring, the money will be utilised on R&D. At present indigenisation level in the company's products is around 75 per cent and it has set a target to increase it to 100 per cent.

While the company sales numbers were not disclosed, its manufacturing unit at Coimbatore has capacity to produce 10,000 units per month.

The company is looking to be an electric focused, product based but solution driven company covering both domestic and international markets. It received its first export order for Electric Trolley to carry about 600 kgs of load, which is very useful for material movement within factory premises.

Two years ago, Ampere received funding from private equity firms Forum Synergies India and Spain's IMI Investments have jointly invested around Rs 20 crore.

In April, the Centre has launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan through Department of Heavy Industries. Company's 3-4 technical projects have been accepted by the Government for pilot projects in some specific locations.

On challenges, in an earlier interview she said, conducive Government Policies for the EV industry specifically making any subsidies be given to end users directly, this will impact end user decisions, financing for E-bikes, awareness and others.

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