Swapnil Jain (Co-founder, Ather Energy) shares thoughts on EV industry after electric scooter launch
Updated: Jul 12, 2018
Ather Energy had a successful launch of their two electric scooters S450 & S340 in June, which have received rave reviews from the experts and the consumers alike.
In the second installment of our Thought Leadership series, we had a chance to interview Mr. Swapni Jain (Co-founder, Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd.) regarding his views on the EV industry, adoption rates, government support, and much more.
Aurora Ventures: The launch event for S450 & S340 was a great success, and Ather has received an avalanche of media coverage. How are the initial booking numbers looking? And what are the company expansion plans for other cities of India?
Swapnil Jain: Consumers have been eagerly waiting for the Ather scooters for the past few years and the response has been overwhelming the past month. We are already booked for the rest of the year and are now taking orders for early next year. Our experience centre, AtherSpace, has been bursting at the seams with test ride slots being booked 2 weeks in advance, and consumers walking in through the day for test rides. We will be entering the Chennai market in Q2 2019
Aurora: That's good news. Also, there is a lot of excitement about AtherGrid. Tell us more; why did the company decide that you should have your own charging points? Do you think it’s important for vehicle manufacturers to also look into the charging infrastructure for EVs or should third party companies/government be taking the lead in that space?
Swapnil: Electric vehicles cannot become a viable alternative without making charging infrastructure availability a greater priority. It was critical for us to make public charging convenient and accessible. This is an important step towards increased adoption and acceptance of electric vehicles and in the long run will have a positive effect on the cost of the vehicles themselves.
It is natural for OEMs to take a lead on the charging infrastructure - this is evident across the world and among EV manufacturers. Though there are popular charger options, there are no global standards and OEMs are given the freedom to design and build vehicles and chargers as they see fit. This in turn gives consumers a lot of options and opens up the market. The Indian government has been working on a charging standard, the Bharat EV Charger and we are looking forward to seeing them implemented across the industry.
Aurora: Is charging the only reason for low adoption rates of EVs in India? Do you think there are other factors which have led to the slow growth of the industry in last 3-4 years?
Swapnil: Range anxiety is definitely an important factor in a country like India but it is not the sole reason for the slow growth. While we believe that the future is inevitably electric, realistically, we are a long way from seeing ICE completely disappearing, but it has begun. Electric vehicles offer better performance and a better ownership experience and once consumers begin to see this, the market will respond accordingly. But for that to happen, the industry needs to step up and create great products that can truly replace their ICE counterparts. Today we do not see enough of that happening.
Aurora: How does the overall consumer sentiment look to you? Not just for two wheelers but also for four wheelers and public transport?
Swapnil: Consumers are very open to making the shift to electric vehicles if there are the right kind of products available to them. Moving to EVs cannot be a compromise so as long as OEMs offer viable product portfolios, there will definitely be takers.
Aurora: What are your views on the overall policy frameworks like FAME 2, charging standards and infrastructural support from the government? Do you think there is scope for more?
Swapnil: The government has been spearheading the EV movement in India, and it has been very encouraging for young companies like us. We are eager to see what FAME 2 will offer consumers and manufacturers. Most state governments have also been offering incentives to OEMs and EV owners alike for both setting up infrastructure and also for vehicles themselves.
We would like to thank Swapnil for sharing his views.