EV scooter-maker Ather Energy plans to triple its capacity by end of next fiscal

Electric scooter-maker Ather Energy, backed by HeroMoto Corp and Sachin and Binny Bansal, will triple its annual capacity to about 3 lakh units by the end of FY23 if the prevailing demand trend continues, a top company official stated.

The Hosur, Tamil Nadu-based EV-maker presently has an installed capacity of a little over 1 lakh annually (9,200 units per month) but rolls out a much lower number. It has just one model, the Ather 450X, priced at Rs 1.5 lakh, which is almost double the price of a petrol scooter.

“Currently, we can roll out 9,200 units a month from the Hosur plant that we commissioned in February. Given the hike in demand/inquiries now, we are looking to triple our capacity by the end of the next fiscal,” Tarun Mehta, co-founder and chief executive of Ather Energy, told PTI.

The Hosur plant has sufficient land to raise capacity to 5 lakh units per annum.

The company expects to reach full capacity of the first phase by this fiscal and is therefore looking to triple the same by the end of FY23. The first phase covers an area of 1.2 lakh sq ft, and the idea is to increase it to 4 lakh sq ft by the end of FY23 and triple the output, Mehta described.

Ather has invested Rs 130 crore in the plant so far, and Rs 650 crore since the establishment of the company in 2013. It started with a small plant within Bengaluru city from where it had rolled out the first model Ather 450 in 2018, which is no longer in production though.

The electric two-wheeler industry is a cluttered lot with nearly 20 players, who had collectively sold a negligible 25,600 units in 2020, declining nearly 6 percent from 2019.

With a little over 8,100 units sales volume, Hero Electric (from HeroMoto Corp) led the market in 2020, followed by Okinawa grossing around 5,600 units and Ampere with a volume of a little over 4,400 units, as per industry data.

While Mehta declined to share the sales numbers, according to industry data, Ather sold just 2,972 units in 2020, up 30 percent over 2019, and yet making it the fourth largest player by volume in the industry.

Mehta told the Hosur plant also has a lithium-ion batteries unit for which it has tied up with Chennai-based Sanmina for electronic components. Its other vendors include MRF for tyers and Brembo Bybre for brakes.

Commenting on why he has just one model, Mehta said the company is working on new models but refused to share details.

Ather has experience centers and deliveries in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, and Kochi. It will start deliveries in Mysore, Hubli, Trichy, and Delhi this month.

The number of delivery centers will reach 27 by the end of this year, he said.

In all these cities it has experience centers and public charging stations (where anyone can charge scooters/ bikes for free as the electricity cost is paid by Ather).

Ather will install nearly 400 public charging stations by the end of December, from over 130 now, he added.

Commenting on whether Ather will continue as a scooters-only player, he said it will be so for at least the next 2-3 years.

Mehta owns less than 20 percent of the company that he co-founded in 2013 along with his IIT Madras batchmate Swapnil Jain. HeroMoto Corp with Rs 400 crore investment is the largest investor, followed by Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal. Other investors include global private equity players Tiger Global and InnoVen Capital.

It launched the first scooter Ather 450 in 2018, followed by the now flagship Ather 450X in 2020.

Speaking on the development, Shishir Gupta, Founder and CEO of StartupLanes said, “The auto industry will see a massive change in the upcoming years. Electric Vehicles will become a necessity and with their growing popularity, homegrown EV makers like Ather Energy would lead the industry.”

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