Ather has opened its new showroom and experience centre in Mumbai. Retail sales have commenced in the city as well. We caught up with Tarun Mehta, Co-Founder & CEO, Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd. and got to know his vision for the brand and future plans.
Following are some excerpts from our discussion:
GearFliQ: What is current EV market estimate in the country?
Tarun: The current market is around 1.2 lakh units annually. It is so because customers have less options. Amongst the available options, there are hardly any electric scooters which can match up to the performance a 110cc ICE scooter. Hence, there are no good replacements for a petrol scooter. The products currently in the two-wheeler EV space are more of experiments. The market shall grow once there are better replacement options.
However, there is a lot of potential in the EV space. There is a 4-5 million market which can go all electric, if production and capacity can happen.
GearFliQ: How do you see the growth of EV market, specially after the pandemic?
Tarun: Almost every vehicle segment has bounced back after the pandemic. One change that has taken place is that now customers are looking at EVs as an upgrade. They think it is the next technology to buy. People are thinking of their next vehicle as an electric one. For example, The most talked about car these days is Tesla. So, I think people want to go electric and this is the right time. With good products, the market shall surely grow.
GearFliQ: Why is there a dearth of indigenous EV manufacturers in the country?
Tarun: The reason for that is that it is not standard to build platforms in India. Traditionally, Indian companies started off as joint ventures with foreign manufacturers. Over a period of decades, the ecosystem of talent in India was exposed to only 'productionising' an established product. The skill to build a new platform is not readily available.
So, the challenge in electric is that you need to have the technology to build a platform, which is not available. That is one reason why we at Ather took 4 years to launch a product, as we were developing the technology. Also, it is not easy to find investment to build a technology.
GearFliQ: Ather is known for performance electric scooters, whereas the mass market wants electric scooters with high range, about 150 km on a single charge. Are you working towards that?
Tarun: We at Ather do not make false claims like a few manufacturers do. Actual range varies between 60-80 km on a single charge. With the given battery size and cost, currently it is not possible to offer that kind of range. For a range of 150km, it would require a battery double the size of the current one and at a much higher cost. I’m sure the market will grow with higher range products, but that is still a few years away.
GearFliQ: What are Ather’s expansion plans in next 2 years?
Tarun: My dream target is to reach 100 cities in India. Let’s see how much we can achieve. Right now we are opening 27 cities and we are in talks with about a dozen more, so maybe about 40 cities. Test rides are starting shortly in Kochi, Delhi, Kolkata and Calicut.
GearFliQ: Any plans to enter the commercial segment
Tarun: No. Our focus is clear. We are building products for the end consumer and we remain a consumer brand. We are not structured yet for the commercial segment.