We get into a quick chat with Ather Energy CTO Swapnil Jain, digging into the future of the brand and the EV game as such
Words: Neeraj Padmakumar
Q: We are having this conversation at a time when Ather is vigorously involved in business expansion and market share invasion. I know that you now have a new plant in Hosur. So, let's start by detailing the same?
Well, yes we now have a new plant operational at Hosur, Tamil Nadu. Spread across an area of 4,00,000 sq ft, the plant will manufacture both our EVs and Lithium-ion batteries. The plant is not yet in the full swing in terms of production. We are currently doing one shift a day, and hope to train as many as 4000 employees over the next 5 years. Once the production picks pace, we will be doing a total of 1 lakh units per annum.
Q: With such high numbers being produced, what kind of market share are you aiming for, in the EV space?
We are targeting 30-40% of the EV market pan India. With commendable demands for our EVs already being raised from many parts of the country, we definitely consider it an achievable target.'
Q: The global markets are highly hospitable for EVs. So do you have any plans for exports?
As of now, we don't have any plans for exports as such. The global EV scene is definitely welcoming, but our domestic market has higher growth potential and demands. The market here is fast evolving. People are quickly shifting to EVs, and the stigma associated with EVs is fast vanishing. So if we keep our focus on the domestic market now, we would have greater growth. The overseas market is too vague a shot, while the domestic one offers more precision.
Q: Any hint at the future Ather products?
It is too early to comment on our future product lineup. However, what I can tell you for sure is that we are working on a bunch of new products, or let's say technology instead, for the future. You can expect, more electric scooters from us, with more diversity in terms of the motor and battery capacities and obviously prices as well. But it is still too early to comment any further on these.
Q: Are scooters, or on a more generic note, two-wheelers, the only things to expect from Ather? We live in a time when startups are coming up with electric three-wheelers and even cars as such. Have you ever thought of such possibilities?
Ather as a brand, desires to be known as an electric two-wheeler manufacturer. We have visions of manufacturing two-wheelers alone - if you would get to see an electric motorcycle from us is not something I can give a final word on as of now! It is definitely dependent on the market demands here.
Plus, the electric three-wheeler makers cater mostly to the commercial vehicle market. Yes, they are being used in good numbers in industries like e-commerce. But Ather Energy as a brand desires to cater mostly to the end customers. We are more into providing likable two-wheeler commute experiences to private owners, thus an electric three-wheeler from us is highly improbable. We don't have any plans for four-wheelers/ electric cars either.
Q: The Ather 450X is priced at 1.61 lakh, which obviously is a premium pricing for an EV. Do you have plans for rolling out budget offerings as well?
We aspire to be a premium EV manufacturer. We dream to provide a premium experience to the customers in terms of technology, features, and performance. If they are given these deliverables, people would definitely love paying for the product. While we would restrain ourselves from drooping to cost-conscious offerings by compromising the quality as such, there would definitely be more affordable offerings that would guarantee a premium EV experience without compromising on the quality.';