We are re-defining the scooter experience in the country: Ravneet S Phokela, Ather Energy

Phokela, Chief Business Officer, Ather Energy talks about the characteristics of Ather the electric scooter and their expansion plans

Ravneet Phokela Ather

India is the fourth largest market for automobiles. The automobile industry is undergoing a huge technological disruption and due to the inherent efficiency, electric vehicles are a choice among the urban roads. Reportedly India sold about 900,000 EVs in 2017 that is 4 per cent of the volume of diesel and petrol vehicles sold. 

Based in Bangalore, Ather Energy is an Indian electric company founded in 2013. Ather Energy launched two electronic scooters, Ather 450 and Ather 340, in June 2018 and had begun deliveries of Ather 450 in Bengaluru in September 2018. In a conversation with exchange4media, Ravneet S Phokela, Chief Business Officer, Ather Energy spoke about the characteristics of Ather scooter, their expansion plans and more.

How did the concept of Ather Energy and Ather Grid evolve?

Our approach was to build a product that is compelling enough for the people to give up the habit of fossil fuel vehicle and migrate to an electronic vehicle. We believe that people do not buy electric vehicles because its green or eco-friendly, fundamentally they buy it because it is a better product. So that made us design products like Ather 340, and Ather 450. 

What are the characteristics of Ather scooters?

Designed for city roads, Ather 450 solves problems like slow charging speeds, short battery lives, etc, faced by electric two-wheelers currently available in the market. At a rate of 1 km/minute, the vehicle can charge at 80 per cent.

The vehicle comes with a top speed of 80 km/hr, a range of 75 km and an acceleration of 3.9 seconds from 0-40 km/hr in the market.
Ather 45 also comes with a 3.3kW BLDC motor that can comfortably ride up 18-degree slopes. Ather 450 comes with parking assist, which allows riders to reverse into tight parking locations. It does whatever a 125cc traditional scooter is capable of. It is an intelligent and connected scooter. It has touch screen dashboard, and Google maps on the dashboard. It is a connected electric scooter.

How do you plan your marketing and advertising strategies?

For us it is important to understand the context where we are, right now we are in one city and planning our expansion in other cities. We don’t have a national footprint. Also, importantly we are in the early stage of business, we have wrapped up production and supply constraints. We can’t even do heavy duty demand generation. Even today without doing that, if you have booked a vehicle it takes 6-7 months waiting time. So that defines how we market our products. As we go forward, fundamentally whichever channel we chose to use it is going to be deep engagement which is core to our strategy.

How is the electronic vehicle market evolving across India and what are the challenges faced by the manufactures?

One of the problems with the e-vehicle market today is, so far, the market has been dominated by products which are not that great in terms of service and offerings. Most of them are basic products and people believe that e-vehicles are products that are designed to save money, which is not a fact. The biggest challenge for us was to overcome this misconception.

As I mentioned earlier, Ather is a connected scooter which is not available in the Indian market, globally we have similar products Tesla being one good example. So, category creation becomes one of the important aspects of what we do.

From the customer perspective, they are beginning to realise and understand that e-vehicles are the future.

How do you plan to compete with established scooter brands in the country?

We build a great scooter!  It sounds very simplistic but that’s the reality.

Today when a consumer is planning to buy a new petrol scooter, whatever characteristics and qualities they are looking for, Ather has equal or better product offerings. Our subscription plan brings in a lot of advantages to the customers.
Fundamentally there is no compromise being an electric scooter. We are re-defining the scooter experience in the country.

What are Ather's expansion plans and key focus areas for 2019?

Chennai and Pun are our next two markets. Then we are also looking to expand to Hyderabad and NCR regions as well.

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