Ather Energy, the Electric Scooter Maker, which is backed by Hero Moto Corp and also Sachin and Binny Bansal, has announced plans to triple its capacity to 3 lakh units by end of 2023, depending on the present positive trends for e-bikes continuing.
Its present manufacturing plant at Hosur, Tamil Nadu has an installed capacity of 1 lakh units annually; but utilization is much lower.
Presently there is only one model Ather 450X, priced at ₹1.5 lakh – almost double the price of an ICE technology petrol scooter. "Currently, we can roll out 9,200 units a month from the Hosur plant that we commissioned in February. Given the rise in demand/enquiries now, we are planning to treble our capacity...by the end of the next fiscal," Tarun Mehta, the co-founder, and chief executive of Ather Energy, told PTI.
There is enough land availability in its plant for increasing capacity to 5L units per year. The company has plans to meet its present capacity of 1 Lakh units within the present factory area of 1.2 Lakh sqft. The factory area would be extended to 4 Lakh sqft by the end FY23 when the production is tripled.
Ather has invested over ₹130 crores in the plant to date, and ₹650 crores since the company were launched in 2013. The first model Ather 450, no longer in production, was rolled out from its factory in Bengaluru.
The Electric two-wheeler industry is presently cluttered with about 20 players; whose sales were a negligible 25600 units in 2020: decline of 6% over 2019. Hero Electric (from Hero Moto Corp) leads the pecking order, with sales of 8100 units sales. Okinawa followed with 5600 units and then Ampere with a volume of a little over 4400 units: as per industry sources.
Ather sold 2972 units in 2020 – up 30% over 2019: making it the number 4 player. However, Ather sources refused to corroborate these figures.
As per the founder Mr.Mehta, the Hosur plant also has a lithium-ion batteries unit – a tie-up with Chennai-based Sanmina for electronic components. The other vendors include MRF for tyers and Brembo Bybre for brakes.
On being quizzed on why only one model is being introduced, Mehta said the company is working on new models but refused to share details. Ather has set up experience centres and deliveries in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Coimbatore, and Kochi. Deliveries are expected to commence in Trichy, Mysore, Hubli, and Delhi too this month. The number of delivery centres will touch 27 by the end of this year, he said.
Athers has provided facilities of free chagrining for any e-bike at their experience centres and also public charging stations. It also plans to install around 400 public charging stations by the end of December, from over 130 now, he added. On being asked whether Ather will remain a scooters-only player, he said it will be so for at least the next two-three years. Mr.Mehta owns under 20 percent of the company that he co-founded in 2013 along with his IIT Madras batchmate Swapnil Jain.
HeroMoto Corp with ₹400 crore investment is the largest investor, and then the Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal. Other investors include global private equity players Tiger Global and InnoVen Capital. Ather had launched its flagship model Ather 450X in 2020, which has been getting good traction.