“We don’t just build a standard electric vehicle, but also ensure that it keeps up with time. Everything today is getting smart, from our phones and watches to our homes, so we ensure that kind of utility in all our products,” says Relina D’Sliva, PR Manager of Ather Energy in a conversation with Startup Story Media.
Let’s know more about the ongoing journey of Ather Energy, manufacturers of smart electric vehicles and how they are changing the market and the existing perception of electric vehicles.
Inception and the beginning
Ather Energy was founded in 2013 by IIT Madras graduates, Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, who wanted to address the deficiency of the good quality product in the electric vehicles market. They figured out that the problem was likely to be the lack of good quality battery which resulted in bad quality products.
Startup Story Media, got to know that “The first patent of Ather was the batteries that we still use today. While they were doing research in 2013, till then it was just the battery. The overall vehicle wasn’t available in the market. Then they decided to build Ather Energy. Ather has been there for the past 6-7 years for us. Since we began, we have now launched four products.”
Relina also emphasised on how Ather tries to focus more on creating a smart and good quality user experience. She says, “All our products have charging points, have connectivity, have smart features that consumers can really use because Ather is essentially offering customers good quality experience with their product. Providing good services is how we build more customer faith and belief, especially in a new category like an electric vehicle. So we also focus a lot on the customer experience.”
Growth and vision
When asked about how the product’s high cost might not make it accessible to everyone, Startup Story Media got to know how they are hoping to create a larger product portfolio that can address not just the premium market but also the entire spectrum from the middle to the end.
She talked about how although not affordable for everyone, Ather had been aspirational. “There are enough products which are available in 50,000 or under 50,000 but it was aspirational. It was the first product in the market which makes EVs look cool and feel cool. It changes the way people look at the entire industry, that EVs can be cool too.”
Ather is looking forward to expanding its physical presence in more cities. “Right now we are in 6 cities and all our customers are from metros. Today we are just expanding our reach. We are largely operating out of Bangalore and Chennai from the last two years. Today we have added five new markets, so that’s a big growth story for us as a brand.”
Teaching via services
Relina talked to Startup Story Media about how providing the best services to their customers has also become a way of teaching them about the product and how they focus on user experience.
“We have a subscription plan which gives customers different kinds of services, like post-sales experiences. We go all the way to people’s houses as well and test their scooters and drop them back. Because scooters are also connected, we also give them preemptive-alert. So if there is something that looks like might go wrong with your vehicle, we also have data that we can monitor and let you know. Since it’s still a new product there are a lot of things that we can teach them via service,” she says.
Ather Energy also provides its customers with free parts along with the subscriptions so that customers don’t have to pay for labour or parts if something goes wrong with their vehicle and those vehicles are covered by warranty. “It reduces customer’s headaches,” she says.
Although Ather Energy is doing exceptionally well in the markets given how new they are, they still have to face their own share of challenges. Relina tells Startup Story Media about the issues like breaking people’s existing perception about electric vehicles. “I think having low-performing electric vehicles had sort of soured people’s perception of what electric vehicles could do,” she says.
She further adds, “Getting people to know about us is the biggest challenge. And also a big part of our job is educating customers about electric vehicles and what to expect from it. We have to change the customer’s perception of what electric vehicles can do and how easy it is to just buy them and use them regularly. And today we’ve become the benchmark for what the vehicles itself should be like.