Ather Energy, a Bengaluru-electric scooter startup, is adopting thd strategy of Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley firm, which has changed the way people perceive electric vehicles. Tiger Global-backed Ather is looking at setting up its own charging infrastructure and experience zones, where users can test and order a scooter.
The company is in talks with corporates, entities such as cafes for setting up public charging stations, and apartment complexes in order to place charging points for S340 users. Ather says the vehicle in its entirety was designed in-house, with the manufacturing process utilising 90 per cent components that are locally sourced. However, the lithium-ion cells that make up the battery pack, given India's complete lack of expertise at manufacturing them, are wholly imported.
"The way I see the technology is maturing, the only way to add more power to performance vehicles is through electric. Vehicles going electric is going to be one of the biggest changes for us, but for the user the change will be centred around a slightly different theme - connectivity," said Tarun Mehta, co-founder and chief executive of Ather Energy, after unveiling its S340 smart electric scooter in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
With plans to commercially launch the vehicle in about two months, Ather did not reveal its costs.
It however did outline the broad specifications of the scooter which will achieve a range of 60 kilometres on a single charge and will have a top speed of 72 km/hr. The 40 ampere battery pack will have a life of 50,000 kilometres.
Targeted at electric mobility and technology aficionados, the scooter features a touchscreen dashboard with integrated navigation and serves as a place for the rider to control drive modes, etc. It will also always be connected via a GSM SIM card that's embedded into the dashboard which will relay data continually and alter a user's experience on the fly.
Ather, which raised $12 million from Tiger Global in May 2015, said that it will utilise close to $3.5 million of that to setup its manufacturing facility in Bengaluru. The S340 will go into production close to the fourth quarter of 2016, with the plant having an installed capacity of 50 units per day. In its first year, it hopes to sell 10,000 units of the S340.
Soon after launching the S340 in Bengaluru at the end of 2016 or early next year, Ather will roll it out in Chennai, followed by Pune. South India is the largest scooter market in the country and given the higher density of technology companies and people who work in them, the company would capitalise on the market first.