Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Sachin Bansal leads $51-million funding in e-scooter maker Ather Energy

Mumbai: Electric scooter maker Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd said on Tuesday that it has raised $51 million in its latest investment round, led by existing investor Sachin Bansal who chipped in with $32 million ( 220 crore).

The Flipkart co-founder has been on Ather Energy’s board since 2014 when he made an angel investment of $500,000 in the company, which was then an IIT Madras-incubated startup.

In addition to the equity round, Ather Energy said it has also raised $8 million in debt from venture debt firm Innoven Capital.

“Today’s transaction also included conversion of Hero MotoCorp’s convertible debt of $19 million into equity, which it had provided last year," Tarun Mehta, Ather Energy’s co-founder and chief executive, said in an interview. “It’s almost like a dream for an entrepreneur for an angel investor to come back as a Series C investor. This has come at a great time for us as the core product experience that we were building for the last few years has started to work really well," said Mehta.

“I think the product-market fit has happened. I think what the team has done in the last 4.5-5 years is proof that this product works and you can make it work. This is the first real electric vehicle (EV) that people want to own," Bansal said in an interview.

“The latest round of funding will be primarily deployed in two areas, expansion across newer cities this year and expanding the production capacity of electric scooters. The company plans to ramp up its capacity to 25,000 scooters per year by the end of 2019," Mehta said.

Bengaluru-headquartered Ather Energy is expanding to Chennai and is setting up charging stations across the city. It plans to have up to 55 charging stations by the year end, including 31 in Bengaluru.

“We will have a total of 10 stations in Chennai in a few days from now," Mehta said. The company will open pre-orders in Chennai next month. By the end of 2023, Ather plans to set up about 6,500 charging stations for its electric vehicles across 30 cities. This alone, according to the company, will require a projected investment of about 130 crore. “We want to get to selling one million electric two-wheelers in five years and 150,000—200,000 units within the next three years," Mehta said.

Bansal feels these targets are easily achievable. “The current two-wheeler industry size in India is about 20 million units. In five years from now, it could be 24-25 million units and we are talking of a million-unit target, which I don’t think is unreasonable," he said.

“I believe the overall EV market will be much bigger as a percentage of the total two-wheeler market in India by then. This will be powered by the improvements in battery tech," said Bansal, who compares the expected growth of Ather’s scooters with that of smartphones in India.

Meanwhile, Mehta expects his startup to achieve unit-level break-even when it sells 50,000-100,000 units and Ebitda level break-even at the 200,000 mark.

Ather Energy has so far raised $95 million in five rounds of funding and has Hero MotoCorp, Tiger Global, and Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal as its investors.

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