Electric vehicle startup Ather Energy today raised Rs 180 crore in a fresh round of funding from Hero MotoCorp for 26-30 percent stake.
The Board of Directors of Hero MotoCorp, in a meeting held yesterday, approved an investment of up to Rs 205 crore, of which the first tranche is of Rs 180 crore.
This fresh round of funding will be used for the building of a future-ready product platform, acceleration of the charging infrastructure, ecosystem development, and commercialisation of the vehicle.
This funding marks the third round of investment in Ather Energy. Last year in May, the startup raised $12 million in funding (Rs 75.33 crore) from Tiger Global for the development, testing, production and launch of Ather’s first smart electric two-wheeler – the Ather S340. And earlier, in 2014, Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal had extended a funding of $1 million to the startup.
Speaking on the investment, Tarun Mehta, CEO and Co-founder of Ather Energy, said,
"The funding is a strong validation of our product roadmap and technology capability, endorsed by one of the biggest global automotive players. We believe smart connected electric vehicles are the future, and India will be an important global player in it. Our vision is to fast forward to that future, and this investment will help us leapfrog several years of automotive experience."
Founded in the year 2013 by IIT Madras graduates Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, Ather Energy is developing an electric two-wheeler, which they claim will be completely designed and made in India. The startup has a team of 150 employees and is presently in the stage of product testing and vendor finalisation for their first product, the S340.
Unveiling of Ather S340
Ather unveiled the S340 in February this year and is expected to officially launch it in the next few months. The Ather S340 is a connected vehicle powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, and features a digital touchscreen dashboard and a light-weight aluminum chassis, and can reach speeds of 75 kmph. The smart dashboard in the vehicle will enable users to create personalised profiles, choose riding modes and set other ride preferences.
The vehicle charges up to 90 percent in less than an hour. Its touchscreen dashboard contains a Vehicle Control Unit (diagnostic system) that constantly monitors the rider’s behaviour, a GPS, and an indicator showing how much distance can be travelled on the remaining charge. The personalised profile feature will allow users to create their own profile, comprising all the basic information. Ather also aims at setting up a ubiquitous charging infrastructure in every city it will operate in, partnering with both the government and private enterprises.
Commenting on this investment, Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp, said,
As the market leader and a global automotive major, Hero takes the lead in many areas that benefit the environment, customer and industry. Hero MotoCorp intends to enhance its participation in the EV space by pursuing its internal EV programme in addition to partnering with Ather. We see this as an important step in building the necessary ecosystem needed to support the commercialisation of EVs in the country.”
A sneak peek at the electric vehicles market
India, over the years, has witnessed a positive trend in developing electric vehicles, with the likes of Mahindra E20, India’s first electric vehicle, priced at Rs 4.79 lakh. The Gujarat-based Yo Bykes has pioneered the electric scooter in India. Other entrants in the space include Hero RNT Diesel Hybrid Scooter, Hero Splendor iSmart, Hero Leap, Mahindra GenZe, TVS Qube and Hyosung ST-E3 EVA.
Coimbatore-based electric vehicle startup Ampere Electric has developed electric cycles, electric two-wheelers, and e-scooters. The company also claims to be the first one to make their own chargers (36V and 48V) for e-vehicles.
Ather Energy claims that, unlike other players, its S340 offers a connected ride experience, features on-board navigation, personalised profiles, a top speed of 72 kmph and sub-one hour charging.
Website: Ather Energy