In what would perhaps be the most re-assuring sign for India’s currently dilemnatic startup ecosystem, automobile industry stalwart Hero Motocorp has invested a staggering ₹180 crores into Bangalore-based smart electric scooter maker, Ather Energy. This investment from world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer comes in exchange of around 26-30 percent stake.
According to multiple reports, the Board of Directors of Hero MotoCorp has approved an investment of up to Rs 205 crore. Out of that approved amount, the first tranche is of Rs 180 crore.
Commenting on this investment, Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp, said,
As the market leader and a global automotive major, Hero MotoCorp takes the lead in many areas that benefit the environment, customer and the industry. Adoption of environment-friendly fuel is a priority for Hero MotoCorp, as is propagating sustainable manufacturing through green facilities. Hero MotoCorp intends to enhance its participation in the EV (electric vehicle) space by pursuing its internal EV program in addition to partnering with Ather. We see this as an important step in building the necessary ecosystem needed to support the commercialisation of EVs in the country.
The funds will be used by the company to continue its engineering and production work for the S340 vehicle. It will also spend significant amount in its efforts with an ubiquitous charging infrastructure. The amount will also be used for the building of a future-ready product platform, ecosystem development and commercialisation of the vehicle.
This round — which is the third for Ather so far — marks just the perfect amalgamation of a veteran industry leader investing in new-age tech which India’s emerging startup has to offer.
As for Ather’s previous investments, the company had raised $12 million from Tiger Global for the development, testing, production and launch of Ather’s first smart electric two wheeler – the Ather S340. Prior to that, it had raised $1 million in a seed funding round from Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal.
Speaking on the investment, Tarun Mehta, CEO and Co-founder of Ather Energy, said,
The funding is a strong validation of our product roadmap and technology capability, endorsed by one of the biggest global automotive players. We believe smart connected electric vehicles are the future, and India will be an important global player in it. Our vision is to fast forward to that future, and this investment will help us leapfrog several years of automotive experience.
Founded in 2013 by IIT Madras graduates Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, Ather Energy is developing an electric two-wheeler. Currently, the startup has a team of over 150 employees and is presently in the stage of product testing and vendor finalisation for the S340.
The company’s first connected vehicle — Ather-S340 — is said to be the first electric scooter which has been completely designed and manufactured out of India. It features a digital touchscreen dashboard, has a light-weight aluminium chassis and offers a top speed of up to 75 kmph. It will allow users to create personalized profiles, choose riding modes and set other ride preferences.