Ather Energy is not ready for a takeover by Hero MotoCorp which already owns 34.58 per cent stake in the electric vehicle start-up. Tarun Mehta, CEO and Co-Founder of Ather Energy, has told carandbike in a candid conversation that while his start-up is glad about Hero MotoCorp putting in its support and funding, Ather Energy is not for sale. Speaking to carandbike Editor-in-Chief Siddharth Vinayak Patankar in 'Freewheeling with SVP ', Mehta said that Ather has struck out on its own path and is currently focused on its own product and network expansion plans, and as such there are no plans of a sell-out.
To a question about some media reports which conjecture that Hero MotoCorp, the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer, may be looking to assume majority control of Ather Energy, Mehta clarified that while Hero may have invested substantial capital, to the tune of over ₹ 400 crore in Ather Energy, there are no plans of Ather selling majority stake to Hero MotoCorp.
"We're not selling ourselves," said Mehta. "Hero has put in sizeable capital, we'll acknowledge that. Hero has invested something like, a little more than ₹ 400 crore over the last few years. So that's substantial capital for an Indian auto company. There's a lot of respect for Hero, and I think they have been fantastic partners. There's so much good advice that we've had at the Board level, there's this sheer understanding of supply chain, and the Indian automotive scene is so immense, that just by sheer osmosis, you learn a lot.
"But there's a reason right now we're not present in a Hero showroom. There's a reason Ather is entertaining 2,000-plus dealership enquiries itself. There's a reason we're setting up our own manufacturing plant, there's a reason we've built up this R&D completely ourselves here. Hero's backed it up, there's no denying that and I'm super glad to have that and I do respect that they will continue to support us. But that doesn't mean that, you know, this is a technology that should be absorbed. That's the crux of what, I believe, people get it wrong," Mehta told carandbike.
"People still think of electric like a BS6. You know, like, 'oh, the transition to electric,' like the transition from BS4 to BS6. It's like finding that one component which can solve your problem. But it's not that. Electric is different. 85 per cent of built up materials is different, 85 per cent of your supply chain is different, none of the assembly sequences are the same, the assembly plant is different.
"And now, as the EV world is expanding, everybody has got to quickly realise that the entire retail, sales, post-sales model, everything is different. Nothing about electric has roots in the legacy petrol auto world. And if Ather's got to lead this, Ather's got to be independent; Ather's got to strike out on its own. It's amazing, and it's fantastic to have the support of the largest two-wheeler player out there, but people have got to understand. This is not just one small technology change. So when the technology is finally ready and the patents are filed, please come and acquire, it's not that," Ather Energy's CEO and Co-Founder added.
According to some recent media reports, which quoted unnamed industry sources, Hero MotoCorp may be looking at expanding its stake in Ather Energy with a major investment to acquire majority control. The move, according to one report, will see the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer enter the electric vehicle space, leveraging Ather Energy's strong engineering and product portfolio.
Hero MotoCorp has been one of the early investors in Ather Energy, and currently owns around 35 per cent stake in the EV start-up. Apart from Hero, Ather has also received investments from Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, InnoVen Capital, Aerospike founder Srini V Srinivasan and Tiger Global Management. Athere Energy is currently in the process of raising more funds as it expands production and network. The company intends to expand its presence across India in the next 6-7 months and also aims to get its new manufacturing facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu operational, with a 1,00,000 annual production capacity in the first phase of operations.