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Sachin Bansal leads $51 mn investment in smart e-scooter maker Ather Energy

Sachin Bansal leads $51 mn investment in smart e-scooter maker Ather Energy
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: VCCircle

Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd, which makes smart electric scooters, has raised $51 million (Rs 355 crore at the current exchange rate) in a fresh round of funding led by Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal.

The company said that Bansal, who made an angel investment of $500,000 in Ather five years ago, contributed $32 million.

Motorcycle major Hero MotoCorp Ltd, which had invested $19 million in Ather Energy in the form of compulsorily convertible debentures last year, has converted the debt into equity as part of this round.

In July last year, Hero Motocorp had received 66,320 compulsorily convertible debentures.

In addition, InnoVen Capital has infused an additional $8 million in the form of venture debt.

While the total size of the round, including both the equity and debt component, comes up to $58 million, the fresh infusion is limited to $40 million.

“The traditional auto industry is up for a redefinition,” said Sachin Bansal, who left Flipkart last year after its acquisition by Walmart. “Their focus on end-to-end customer experience will open up new revenue opportunities and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India.” 

Ather Energy was founded in 2013 by IIT graduates Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain. It had initially aimed to launch the electric scooters in 2016 but faced delays as product testing took longer than anticipated.

A commercial launch took place in June 2018 with the launch of Ather 450 (its flagship  model) and the previously unveiled variant Ather 340.

Some of the features of the Ather 450, which costs around Rs 1.24 lakh, include a  top speed of 80 km/hr, an acceleration time of 3.9 seconds from 0-40 km/hr, parking assist  which allows riders to reverse into tight parking spots.

It also has a seven-inch touchscreen dashboard that allows on-board navigation besides enabling push navigation from the phone to the vehicle dashboard through the implementation of IoT (internet of things) technology.  

Ather also claims to provide over-the-air (OTA) updates functionality, through which the vehicle can improve over time with continuous upgrades and the addition of new features and functionalities.

 “The changing landscape of personal transport has also offered us more opportunities and you will hear about the new business models that we are investing in very soon,” said Ather Energy CEO Mehta.

Ather, which accepted and received orders only in Bengaluru, will soon expand operations to Chennai in the coming weeks, and hopes to eventually scale its presence to 30 cities by the end of 2023.

As part of this move, the company is mulling a new manufacturing facility that will ramp up its production capacity to one million vehicles a year. Besides, it will also set up 6,500 fast charging points across the country over the next five years with a projected investment outlay of  Rs 130 crore ( $18.67 million). The company already has 31 fast charging points in Bengaluru and seven fast charging points in Chennai.

Recent deals in the segment

  • April 2019: Electric utility vehicles maker Pi Beam Labs Pvt. Ltd raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round led by Bengaluru-based early-stage investor Eagle10 Ventures and joined by venture capital firm Bluehill Capital and high net worth individuals (HNIs).
  • October 2018: Mumbai-based electric-vehicle startup Strom Motors, run by E14 Technologies Pvt. Ltd, secured an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN).
  • September 2018: Engineering company Greaves Cotton agreed to acquire a majority stake in electric two-wheeler maker Ampere Vehicles.
  • September 2018: TVS Motors made an additional investment of Rs 6 crore in electric bike maker Ultraviolette Automotive.