Bengaluru:Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd, a start-up electric scooter maker, launched its electric vehicle (EV) charging network called AtherGrid in Bengaluru on Monday. The firm expects to have 60 charging points in the city by year-end, ahead of launching its S340 electric scooter. Roughly $1 million will go into setting up the charging network.
Ather Energy, backed by India’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp Ltd and Tiger Global Management, said its charging points will be installed at cafés, malls, gyms and tech parks. The first 30 charging points will be set up by the end of this month, the company added. “Infrastructure is where a lot of our time has been going, and the charging network is the biggest piece there. If you want to get your vehicles out, you need the infrastructure, the charging network, to precede it and that’s why the charging infrastructure is going live first, followed by the vehicle," the firm’s co-founder and chief executive officer Tarun Mehta said.
Ather Energy’s charging points were designed for two-wheelers but can be used to charge all EVs, including four-wheelers. For non-Ather Energy customers, charging from any of the AtherGrid points will be free for first six months to encourage EV adoption. The firm will double that benefit to 12 months of free charging for its own customers, i.e. those who buy its S340 scooter. Its own customers will get the option of installing an AtherGrid charging point at their homes, too.
Customers can find the nearest charging point and navigate to it using the company’s mobile app. The app will also help users track charging status and payment options will be integrated into it. By the end of the year, the goal is to ensure that an EV customer is not more than 4km away from an AtherGrid charging point in Bengaluru, co-founder and chief technology officer Swapnil Jain said.
Ather Energy had to deal with some regulatory hurdles that prohibit the installing of electric metres and re-sale of electricity, before it could launch its EV charging infrastructure. Last year, Mint reported that the company had raised the issue with the government. About a month ago, the government issued a clarification on this, Mehta said on Monday.
Setting up adequate charging infrastructure is part of the company’s multi-fold strategy for the roll-out of its S340 scooter. Other pieces of the strategy include focusing on a limited number of cities (starting with Bengaluru, followed by Chennai and Pune) and opening experience/testing centres.
It currently has one experience centre—AtherSpace—in Bengaluru and expects it to be enough to cater to demand in the first year of S340 sales. The firm expects to sell about 5,000 units in the first year.
Ather Energy is very close to the launch of its S340 scooter and will announce developments on that front over the next few weeks, Mehta said. The company is well capitalised for the moment and has enough to see through its Bengaluru launch, he added.