Ather plans to make its third plant operational by next fiscal end

PTI | Electric two-wheeler maker Ather Energy is all set to finalise the location of a third manufacturing plant shortly with plans to make it functional by end of next fiscal to cater to growing demand, according to co-founder Swapnil Jain. The startup which currently sells two electric scooters – 450X and the 450 Plus – expects its current capacity of 4.2 lakh units per annum in Hosur (Tamil Nadu) to get fully utilised by next fiscal end.

Ather formally inaugurated its second plant in Hosur on Wednesday although operations commenced in October.

The company now has two separate facilities in Hosur to produce vehicles and batteries, respectively.

“By the end of next financial year we will be running out of capacity here (Hosur). Somewhere around the similar time frame we will be looking at having the new plant,” Ather Energy co-founder and CTO Swapnil Jain told PTI in an interaction.

The company will be finalising the facility by the end of this financial year as it takes time to build the plant, he said without disclosing the location of the plant.

The plant when completed is likely to have an installed production capacity of 10 lakh units per annum taking the total capacity of Ather Energy to over 14 lakh units per year.

The company is in talks with various state governments like Maharashtra and Karnataka to set up the plant.

With the commissioning of its second plant, the company’s installed production capacity has gone up to 4.2 lakh units from earlier 1.2 lakh units per annum.

The company can also produce 4.3 lakh battery units per year at Hosur.

“This new plant will help us to further strengthen our leadership in delivering quality vehicles,” Jain stated.

On future growth plans, Jain stated that Ather is looking to expand its sales network, enhance product portfolio as well as look at exports over the next 2-3 years.

“We are working on two three platforms and exactly how many products will come out will depend upon the how the market shapes up,” Jain said.

He further said: “Over the next 2-3 years, anywhere between 5-10 products should come up. It will be a mix of trims of existing products as well as new ones.”

Ather, however, has no plans to get into the bike or three-wheeler segments in the near future, he added.

When asked about exports, Jain said the company would probably look at commencing overseas shipments in the next one year.

“The product is already designed according to global standards. …it will help strategically to de-risk ourselves from just one market,” he noted.

On sales network expansion, he noted that the company aims to have 350 experience centres (dealerships) across the country in 95 cities at the end of current fiscal.

By the end of next financial year, Ather plans to have around 350 experience centres across 250 cities and towns.

Ather also plans to expand its charging infrastructure (Ather Grid) to 1,400 locations by this fiscal end from 600 right now.

Ather Energy currently has a market share of around 12-13 per cent in the electric scooter segment, which stood at around 79,000 units in October.

The share of electric scooters in the overall electric two-wheelers has risen to around 17 per cent last month from around 5 per cent in October 2021

The company, which has raised around USD 320 million so far from various investors, is open to further inflow of capital.

“We are not actively pursuing it..but the market is very dynamic and it is always good to have funds to grow faster… so we are open to it…” Jain said.

The company in 2019 had announced a capex of Rs 650 crore over a period of five years and has already put in Rs 320 crore so far across various initiatives including second plant in Hosur.

On concerns regarding the lithium scarcity in the country, he noted that it is not a big concern as the recycling of the precious metal would begin shortly aiding its availability in the market.

“Cobalt is what is scarce…but everyone is moving towards lower and lower cobalt composition in their chemistries,” he added.

On plans to have a tie-up to produce battery cells in India, Jain said: “We have not placed a specific timeframe…all players are looking at the growth of the market…if the market continues to grow at a pace it is growing right now, it can be done very quickly.

“Discussions are happening but when exactly it will happen, it is difficult to say now,” he added.

In May this year, Ather Energy raised USD 128 million from National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Ltd’s (NIIFL) Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF) and Hero MotoCorp, along with additional investors.

Hero MotoCorp is an early investor in Ather Energy and has been part of its growth story since 2016.

The company currently holds around 35 per cent stake in the electric two-wheeler maker.