With fuel prices running at all-time highs and with rising concerns over the alarming rates of air pollution, the need for a more frugal and viable solution for personal mobility has grown even more. Electric vehicles (EVs) are obviously the aptest solution.
With the aim of presenting a two-wheeled EV that can handle the daily grind of a regular commuter and at the same time quench the practical aspirations of an urban commuter from this digital age, Bangalore-based start-up Ather Energy recently launched two electric scooters – the 340 and 450.
Compact from outside, spacious from inside
In an exclusive conversation with Autocar Professional, Tarun Mehta, CEO and co-founder of Ather Energy, revealed that the patent development for these Rs 100,000-and-above electric scooters had started around three-and-a-half years ago.
Tarun justifies the premium price-tag with the uniquely developed battery pack and an almost fully aluminium architecture. Unlike a typical scooter that consists of steel tubular structure, an Ather scooter has its mid-frame, battery pack, swingarms, exposed member, charging casing and even the clip-on handlebar all built from aluminium alloy. In order to keep the weight low at 118kg, Ather has opted for bolted assembly, the kind that is seen on some of the high-end performance bikes.
By opting for cast aluminium over tubular frames, Ather scooters are able to claim one of the largest storage spaces in the industry while showcasing amazing rigidity and ride quality.
However, the CEO does hint at future optimisation and cost-cutting measures on newer models, which might include the involvement of steel structures.
Immovable battery for steadfast performance
One of the benefits of a compact personal electric mobility solution is the lightweight components. The highlight of many of the electric scooters that are currently on sale around the world is the small detachable battery that could be taken back home, charged overnight and used throughout the day. However, Ather has opted for a non-detachable battery pack in order to address several engineering and operational challenges.
One of the major ones is the weight. At 18-19kg, it is not feasible for anyone to lug the heaviest component in the scooter every day back home, just for charging. Although the company has considered swapping technology, it is looking forward to a properly established public infrastructure for the same.
The non-detachable batteries also allowed Ather to uncompromisingly make the entire battery pack well integrated with the chassis, along with proper thermal management system, and guaranteed waterproof characteristics.
Built for enthusiasts, targeted at commuters
With the ease of servicing and low noise, Ather Energy engineers opted for belt drive on his scooters to extend the thrilling experience for the riders.
In order to appease a young enthusiast, the scooter comes with front and rear disc brakes, rear monoshock suspension that is located at the centre, carbon reinforced transmission belts and a 50-50 weight distribution. Ather claims that the scooters showcase the right amount of mix in suspension quality and ride quality that is fit for the tracks as well as all kinds of roads.
Marching towards 10k bookings in first year of operations
Showcasing all the technical wizardry of the scooter at Ather Energy’s first experience centre in Bangalore called ‘AtherSpace’, Tarun reveals that with Bangalore constituting a majority of the bookings, the company is looking at around 10,000 bookings in its first year of operations across Bangalore, Chennai and Pune.
The scooter that comes with more than 1,000 components has around 300 employees working on its production currently. With plans to come up with another similar experience centre in Bangalore, Tarun confirms that he and his team are well capitalised to go through the successful launch of the two scooters.
The Ather 340 (Rs 109,750) and the 450 (Rs 124,750) are currently available for booking and the retail on-road prices are inclusive of Rs 22,000 subsidy, road tax, registration card and insurance.