Hero Motocorp-backed electric vehicle (EV) maker Ather is planning to raise funds for its new electric two-wheeler plant. The money will also be used to set up charging infrastructure across the country and enter new cities. Ather is a start-up in the EV ecosystem that stands to benefit from the government’s push for e-mobility in the recent Budget.
Speaking to Business Standard after announcing the commencement of the company's operations in Chennai, its second market after Bengaluru, Tarun Mehta, Co-founder & CEO, Ather Energy, said the government has already moved the GST Council to lower GST on EVs to five per cent from 12 per cent. He added that the tax exemption on loans taken to buy these vehicles is a major boost for consumers to go for EVs.
“It (the tax exemption) addresses the concern of the upfront cost of purchasing electric vehicles,” said Mehta, who expects the electric two-wheeler market to expand from around 1,50,000-1,80,000 units to over a million within the next two and a half years.
In a bid to capture a good share of the demand, the company is planning to set up a new plant for assembling about one million units a year. Its capacity is expected to touch 25,000 units a year by early 2020.
At present, the company sells two electric scooters - Ather 450 & Ather 340. “We may explore motorcycles, going forward, but not other segments like cars or three-wheelers,” said Mehta.
Mehta, said that the company is evaluating locations in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. A plant this size would cost $80-100 million, he added. The unit will also have a battery assembling facility.
Founded in 2013 by IIT Madras alumni, Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, Ather is currently backed by founders of Flipkart, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Hero Motocorp and Tiger Global.
Over the next four years, the company plans to expand operations to about 30 cities and set up 6,500 charging stations. Charging stations will be set up at malls, cafes, co-working spaces, supermarkets and resorts, as people need to spend atleast 15-20 minutes to reload batteries, Mehta said.
The public charging network, Ather Grid, is spread across 33 locations in Bengaluru and 10 points in Chennai.