NEW DELHI: Ather Energy is not far from becoming a household name when it comes to EVs. Despite not revealing the sales and the current bookings, the automaker seems to have bet high on the Ather 450X and Ather 450 Plus. Scaling up the annual production to 1.1 lakh scooters and 1.2 lakh battery packs and also committing to invest Rs 635 crore in its new facility over a period of 5 years speaks volumes about the current demand for Ather Energy’s portfolio in its stronghold market, the Tier-1 cities and the growing demand in the newly explored target market, the Tier-2 cities.
As Ather Energy has now begun production at its new facility in Tamil Nadu and seems to be betting high on its Tier-2 market appeal and the new facility itself, TOI Auto got into a conversation with Tarun Mehta, CEO, Ather Energy to understand how challenging was it penetrating into the Tier-2 market and what change in strategy did it actually require.
Tier-2 market penetration
Ather Energy confirmed its presence in 27 cities across 15 states. The automaker currently delivers its electric scooters in Tier-1 cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. And apart from the already established network in the Tier-1 cities, the automaker now boasts a comprehensive network in 19 Tier-2 cities that include Kochi, Coimbatore, Calicut, Mysore, Hubli, Jaipur, Indore, Panaji, Bhubaneshwar, Nasik, Surat, Chandigarh, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guwahati, Nagpur, Noida, Lucknow, and Siliguri. And Ather is expected to expand to 40 cities by the end of 2021.
To penetrate into the Tier-2 market, Ather Energy adopted a completely new strategy and instead of opting for an Ather-controlled or owned outlet, they chose to collaborate with retail partners. This move has allowed the automaker to increase scale-up its footprint at a faster pace.
“We’re now working with retail partners. Instead of setting up Ather-owned or controlled or managed experience centres, we’re collaborating with retail partners. It is allowing us to expand our footprint quickly and this is the biggest change in our strategy”, said Tarun Mehta.
450 twins still in the driver’s seat
Ather Energy is focused on scaling up the production and the distribution of its current portfolio which includes the Ather 450X and the Ather 450 Plus. Other than the 450 twins, the automaker has no plans to introduce any new offerings or enhance the current portfolio for some time.
“The focus is to scaling the production up along with the supply chain and the distribution for the current portfolio,” said Mehta.
When asked if the automaker is working towards offering more bang for the buck in any aspect, Mehta simply replied that the previous range improvement came sometime back and that there’s nothing down the pipeline in this particular area.
90% localization and the job opportunities
Ather Energy has managed to achieve 90% localization with its current portfolio. The automaker boasts a comprehensive supply chain and has also managed to localize the production of the battery pack. According to the automaker, majority of its supplier base is in Tamil Nadu, making Hosur an ideal place to set up the production facility in.
“Apart from the lithium-ion cells that go inside the battery pack, everything’s manufactured locally. And the TFT touch screen and the entire dashboard is manufactured in Chennai,” said Mehta.
While the 90% localization is definitely a feat achieved, the job opportunities that the automaker has created in the region is also commendable. The lithium-ion battery manufacturing is a key area of focus for the automaker and Ather Energy is already working on training more than 4000 employees with the relevant skillset over the next 5 years.
Ather’s manufacturing prowess
Ather Energy has set up its mega-factory in Hosur, Tamil Nadu using Industry 4.0 principles and it boasts a production capacity of 1,10,000 scooters per year and 1,20,000 battery packs per year. Ather Energy has also managed to become one of the only EV-makers in India to make their own battery packs. The automaker has filed around 13 patents on the design and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries.
While the current demand limits the production to around 90 units a day, the automaker’s mega-factory is capable of producing around 333 units a day.
Ather Energy’s current portfolio includes the Ather 450X and the Ather 450 Plus. The 450 twins share a 2.9 kWh battery with the 450X getting a usable capacity of 2.6 kWh and the 450 Plus boasting a usable capacity of 2.23 kWh.
The Ather 450X gets a maximum power output of 8.1 PS and delivers a peak torque of 26 Nm. While the top speed is electronically limited to 80 kmph, the electric scooter clocks 0-40 kmph in 3.3 seconds. The 450X gets 4 riding modes- Warp, Sport, Eco and Ride.
The Ather 450 Plus, on the other hand, gets a maximum power output of 7.3 PS and delivers a peak torque of 22 Nm. The top speed of this model is restricted to 80 kmph too while it can clock 0-40 kmph in 3.9 seconds. The 450 Plus gets 3 riding modes- Sport, Ride and Eco.
The key highlight of the 450 twins is their 7-inch TFT LCD touchscreen. The display comes with a Snapdragon 212 Quadcore processor with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. The dashboard gets features like OTA updates, navigation, auto indicator off, guide-me-home lights, connected mobile app, side stand sensor and a time-based adaptive screen brightness adjustment. Apart from this, the mobile app offers features like ride stats, push navigation, live location and vehicle state tracking and a few more.
When it comes to charging, the 450X and 450 Plus can charge from 0-80% in 3 hours 35 minutes at home and the 0-100% takes close to 5 hours 45 minutes.