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Ather Energy chief executive Tarun Mehta.
Ather Energy chief executive Tarun Mehta.

Ather Energy explores ownership models to attract new users

  • The startup aims to have a presence in 10 new cities by the end of March 2021, says Ather’s chief executive Tarun Mehta
  • The electric scooters’ manufacturer is looking at long-term rentals, direct leasing and exchange offers

BENGALURU : In a bid to attract more users toward electric vehicles (EVs), Ather Energy is betting on new ownership models such as long-term rentals, direct leasing, hardware subscriptions and exchange offers.

The electric scooter manufacturer is also expecting more Indian commuters to ditch petrol-driven vehicles for EVs this year, as many users have started to realize the cost benefits of owning an EV, especially with state and central governments stepping up subsidies.

In an interview, Ather’s chief executive Tarun Mehta detailed the startup’s plans to expand into new cities, and the launch of its new manufacturing plant in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. Currently, Ather’s Whitefield factory in Bengaluru has the capacity to manufacture 30,000 units per year. The new factory at Hosur will be equipped to manufacture 100,000 vehicles and will eventually scale up to half a million, Mehta said.

Ather currently has an offline retail presence via its “experience centres" or showrooms in Chennai and Bengaluru. It has also started taking pre-bookings for new cities through its online website.

Mehta said the startup aims to have a presence in 10 new cities, including Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune by the end of March 2021. It is in talks with dealers in these cities to open new experience centres, an important sales strategy for the startup. “For most people an Ather (scooter) is not an objective purchase, they usually get to hear about the brand through word of mouth. We have seen examples where a potential customer may not even be interested in buying a two-wheeler, but after they take our test ride from our experience centre, at some point in the next three to six months they end up pre-ordering it or buying it," Mehta said during a phone interview.

He said Ather is also exploring new vehicle ownership models like long-term leases and vehicle exchange deals as more office-goers and commuters are expected to buy a vehicle than take public transport. Last month, Ather struck a strategic deal with bike-sharing startup Bounce enabling users to buy a vehicle at the on-road price and rent it or lease it back on the same platform, giving users the chance to earn come money.

Buyers of Ather 450 get a benefit of 26,732 as subsidy under the government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, Fame 2, scheme. Currently, Ather offers two models—Ather 450, and the higher-performance version 450X.

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