Bangalore-based startup Ather Energy is to launch its smart electric scooter, the Ather S340 tomorrow, on World Environment Day. The move comes after the vehicle has been in development for nearly four years.
The Ather 340 is likely to be priced at around Rs 100,000-110,000 lakh (ex-showroom), making it the most expensive locally built electric scooter to go on sale in India. The Ather scooter has also been renamed 340 from the earlier S340.
Tarun Mehta, CEO and co-founder, Ather Energy, had confirmed in April that the electric scooter will be launched in a phased manner and will first go on sale in Bangalore. The city-based approach is owing to the fact that Ather wants to first set up an EV charging infrastructure dubbed AtherGrid in all the cities before it starts retailing the scooter. It already has 30 charging stations in Bangalore, with a target of 60 charging stations across the city by the end of the year.
The Ather 340 project received significant funding along the way, though, with a sizeable $1 million (Rs 6.72 crore, approximately) from Flipkart founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, in 2014. Later, the company secured a major boost in 2016 when Hero MotoCorp invested Rs 205 crore in Ather Energy for a 26-30 percent stake. Ather has also set up an assembly plant in Whitefield, Bangalore, with a capacity to build 20,000 scooters per annum in a single shift.
The Ather 340 will be expensive, but it promises to be smart and connected, and offer stronger performance than anything else on the market. Some of the many features on offer are a parking assist function, over-the-air updates, ‘push navigation’, charging station location tracking, custom user interface, combined brakes and diagnostic alerts.
The Ather electric scooter is powered by a brushless DC motor (BLDC) and uses a battery pack and battery management system (BMS) designed by Ather. The company’s website has listed the motor’s torque at 14Nm, but this number could be different on the final model that goes on sale.
Performance figures are claimed at 5.1sec for the 0-40kph time, and a top speed of 72kph. Ather also claims a 50min time for fast-charging to 80 percent, a real-world range of 60km and that the battery can last up to 50,000km. Suspension duties are handled by a telescopic fork and a monoshock unit, and the electric scooter features disc brakes with a combined braking system (CBS) on both wheels.
The Ather 340 will compete against the Okinawa Praise and the Twenty Two Motors Flow, priced at Rs 59,899 and Rs 74,740 (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi), respectively.
5 things you need to know about the Ather 340
Powered by a 5kW Brushless DC motor
This translates into peak power of 6.8hp and 14Nm of class-leading torque. The Aprilia SR 150, the performance king of scooters in India, manages only 11.4Nm. What's more, this being an electric motor, peak torque is available at all times (from 0 rpm, that is), as compared to a combustion engine where it is only available at a certain point in the rev range. This means that despite featuring a relatively low top speed of 72kph, the S340 should get there quickly. Ather Energy quotes a 0-40kph acceleration time of 5.1sec.
60km real-world range
Ather claims a 60km range for the S340, courtesy a 2.2kWh Lithium-ion battery pack. This is the range to be expected in the real world, thanks to the ‘intelligent Battery Management System’, claims Ather.
Moreover, the battery pack has an ingress protection rating of IP67 (the same as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, for instance), which translates to total protection from dust ingress. It can also withstand immersion in water up to a depth of 1 metre. The battery pack is mounted underneath the floorboard, making for a low centre of gravity (the lowest of any scooter in India, by Ather’s claims) which results in increased agility and overall handling over conventionally-powered scooters.
Convenience comes in the form of a fast-charging system, allowing the battery pack to charge up to 80 percent (or 50km of range) in one hour. Charging is facilitated via a regular 5-amp electrical socket, the same kind you use to charge your phone or laptop (not the 13-amp sockets used for heavy appliances like ACs and fridges, mind you).
The battery back has a rated life of 50,000km, however, and will need replacement past this mark. Details on replacement costs are yet unknown.
Large, interactive touchscreen
The S340 features a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen which gets an IP65 rating. This means total protection from dust as well as protection from low-pressure water jets in any direction. This configuration will allow the screen to withstand rain, but not immersion, if flooding should occur. In addition to vehicle information such as trip-meters, range and speed, the screen will also be able to display maps for navigation.
It will get smarter over time
The screen on the scooter will link to an app on your mobile phone, allowing you to push navigation to the screen, view your riding patterns and request remote diagnostics. The firmware on the scooter can also receive over-the-air (OTA) updates, which means more features and functionality can be added over time. Another smart feature is the inclusion of a reverse mode, allowing you to easily get out of tricky parking spots. Adaptive LED lights are a nice touch as well.
It’s a well-equipped scooter
Coming to the ‘scooter’ side of things, the S340 features decent equipment levels, being shod with alloy wheels, a telescopic fork and a monoshock. It also features disc brakes at both ends, a first for a scooter in India, along with a combined braking system (CBS). Ather claims a near-perfect 51:49 weight distribution (front to rear), and zero lateral offsets, meaning that the weight is symmetrically distributed from left to right.
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