Ather electric bike (motorcycle) project on hold, says Tarun Mehta

For those eagerly waiting to buy an Ather electric bike, the wait isn’t ending anytime soon. Tarun Mehta, Co-Founder and CEO, Ather Energy, has told moneycontrol.com that the company has stopped looking at an Ather electric bike right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bangalore based startup partly owned by Hero Motocorp won’t work on developing new products, including the possible Ather electric bike, before 2021. The focus is only on the current products (Ather 450 Series) and increasing its reach in India. Earlier this year, Ather Energy launched their updated electric scooter, the Ather 450X with better performance, faster charging and new features. It is yet to begin deliveries.

The company is not looking at expanding into new market segments anytime soon as some reports would have you believe and the focus is clearly on getting the 450X into as many Indian homes as possible, ElectricVehicleWeb had already reported in January.

Below is our interaction with Mehta from the launch of the 450X earlier this year:

EVW: Will there be an Ather electric bike?

Tarun Mehta: We are a scooter company but we will do motorbikes too in a few years. But it will not be in the immediate future as we don’t even have a motorcycle concept for demo. Our focus right now is exclusively on the 450 product line.

EVW: What range do you think is suitable for an Ather electric bike?

Tarun Mehta: I think a good electric bike should have a range of 300 km. If it is less than that, it will be intended for only city use. I could be wrong and I haven’t spent enough time in that sector. But my thought is I want to be able to get to another city and then stop for fast-charging.

EVW: Is there a low-cost scooter model that Ather is working on?

Tarun Mehta: No, we are not going to do that. The 450 stands for a great experience and we don’t want to dilute that. We have been able to reduce the price for 450X by introducing the subscription plan, which brings down the upfront payment. But we don’t want to do a stripped-down version of this scooter with a smaller battery. There are a lot of other players who will do a fantastic job at it. We want to focus on things that we do well which is to offer a fantastic and great experience for our customers.

Ather 450X deliveries to begin in November

Last year it was reported that an Ather electric bike is on the to-do list of Ather Energy but it is evident that the company is only thinking about expanding sales into new markets and improving sales of the 450 series with the Plus and X versions.

In January, Ather showcased its new electric scooter Ather 450X and the Ather 450 Plus. There are multiple financing options available – customers can choose to buy it upfront, or on lease or on an EMI model. Ather 450X is priced at Rs 1,59,000 in Bengaluru (Incl. GST and FAME II incentive) and the Ather 450 Plus is priced at Rs 1,49,000 in Bengaluru (Incl. GST and FAME II incentive).

The new ownership model available for these models is battery subscription. Customers can pay Rs 99,000 for the vehicle, minus the battery. Instead you pay a monthly subscription starting at Rs 1,699. The monthly subscription will cover the cost of daily usage of the vehicle – including fast charging, 4G data and OTA upgrades.

The 450X gets a 2.9 kWh battery and a 6 kW/26 Nm motor. The company is claiming that the 450X is the quickest scooter in the country with a 0 to 40 km/h time of 3.29 seconds and 0 to 60 km/h time of 6.50 seconds. The 450X will be available in across 10 major cities in India including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.