At the end of our Ather 450 ride, we caught up with Tarun Mehta, CEO and co-founder, Ather Energy, for a quick chat about the future of the Ather brand
Interviewed by: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Saurabh Botre
Bike India: What is it that sets Ather apart from current and future competition?
Tarun Mehta: Today it is the product experience, performance, and overall build quality. We are a significant step ahead in terms of performance, almost three times better in motor power. Then there is the overall ownership experience. The subscription plan, charging infrastructure, doorstep service, and mobile app all contribute to a holistic experience. We make sure that your entire ownership is a great experience. We install a charging point at your house and the product keeps getting updates so that it keeps getting better. User experience is the product of a lot of things stitched together and that, I believe, is something that Ather is uniquely chasing.
Do you also supply tech to your investor, Hero MotoCorp?
No, we do not have a tech tie-up with them and there are no future plans either.
Since the Ather 450 is doing quite well, do you have plans for an electric motorcycle as well?
For the next few years, we are only focusing on scooters. A motorcycle is definitely on the cards, but it is at least three years away.
How will your upcoming scooters be better than the current 450?
(Laughs) We cannot disclose that right now. You will have to wait until the product announcement. If I let it out right now, we would have spilled the beans too early.
Ather’s growth over the past years has been phenomenal. Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, from a sales perspective, we have to be present in at least 30 cities; a pan-India presence. We want to hit an annual sales target of a million units and make sure that our charging infrastructure is the largest in the country. There will also be greater variety in our product portfolio. Additionally, we want to be present in, maybe, two international markets and doing reasonable volumes there as well.
Going forward, will the leasing programme be a major part of Ather or will you discontinue it as you become more successful?
No, we believe leasing is an important option for the end customers. I think people will like more options for ownership instead of just buying a vehicle up front. Leasing is one of our experiments in that direction. It is working out well and we will be running more of these programmes, not fewer.
A number of manufacturers derive a lot from a rich heritage in motor sport. Does Ather have any plans to enter motor sport?
Nothing formally for now. Our team has participated in a couple of events, including a rally in the recent past, but we do not have plans for a formal entry into motor sport. I think we need some more experience before setting up a factory team. With our current resources, it will be more of a side activity than a full-fledged effort. Maybe, in a couple of years we will explore that avenue.
Is the Ather 450 your primary mode of transport around Bengaluru?
Yes, unless I am travelling long distances, such as a visit to the factory. I could not bring it today because I forgot to charge it (laughs). I have done [checks Ather app] 3,500 km in eight months.
Are you an automobile enthusiast? Do you have a dream car or two-wheeler?
I don’t think I am an automobile enthusiast. I have only ridden scooters and I do not have a dream scooter at the moment.