I attended Ather Energy 450X launch today. Got a chance to do small interview with Ravneet, Chief Business Officer & Arun, Product Head at Ather.
We did a video, but from our unprofessional recording from phone, there happens to be a lot of noise in it.
Here is the interview in blog form.
** All lines may not be exact. There might be some additions later.
Nikhil- Hello this is Nikhil from Tesla Club India. We have Ravneet & Arun from Ather Energy. Congratulations sir on successful launch.
Arun- Thank you.
Nikhil- We have been big fan of Ather Energy. We have been spreading love for Ather. Our community has some questions for you.
Nikhil- Since you have told about production plans, 1L capacity addition this year, this is for 450 or 450x?
Ravneet- So both of our factories will run together. Current factory has capacity of nearly 30k. In addition to that we have this new factory which makes total capacity 1.3L. For 450, we will stop taking pre orders now, anyone that want 450 has the options to buy 450x Plus. And whatever orders we have in the pipeline we will deliver in next few months.
Nikhil- And is there battery manufacturing also?
Ravneet- Yes. We have battery assembly co located with vehicle assembly.
Nikhil- Why Dealers?
Ravneet- So you know it actually doesn’t matter because dealers is just a business model we are changing, what we are not changing is what customer will see. A customer who goes to Bombay or Bangalore or Chennai & then he tomorrow comes to experience centre in Delhi, he won’t notice any difference. It’s the same experience, same way of selling, same focus on education, experience.
Nikhil- Some said that they would like to directly deal with company rather than a 3rd party dealer.
Ravneet- He won’t know the difference. The person who is running dealer is going to be ather employee. He will be physically there. Actually, for a customer nothing will change.
Arun- And we continue to be in connect directly with customer for updates, feedback.
Nikhil- Ather community is great.
Arun- Yeah, we have a community. So I think how you stay in connect with customer is important.
Nikhil- So there was a news that a 70-80k model with same range as 450.
Arun- Right, we continue to work on different products, right now focus is on double down on performance. So I think that’s our core strength. I think other products are there that are created with low price point & can be with low performance. But our strength is building better products.
Nikhil- We did a economics comparison of ICE vs EV 2w & Ather 450 was winning by over 1L from active in 6 years. In 6 yr you are saving over activa. Is this pricing of 149k, 159k + subscription will change it.
Arun- Our primary target here is not people who are doing long term ownership.
Nikhil- most people see buying price, we tried to show that its not expensive even now & price is going to decrease in future.
Arun- What we are doing with 99k price is, you pay subscription price. If real problem is upfront cost, I think that’s what we have solved.
Ravneet- See you know, reality is that there are different category in market with different needs. We will not be for TCO. We will be good at TCO, TCO works out if you do the math, but honestly that’s not the reason we exist. We exist because we own the product, its an upgrade. If you buy something better, you can’t really compare. Pricing works out, I don’t say it doesn’t. But that’s not the way you see it. We believe for the product we created. Actually with the subscription model, what more to like. There is petrol price, tax, maintenance is less, connectivity is there. More colours.
(Bit laughing, joking about colours).
Nikhil- Are you planning to get in bike segment?
Arun- Sound like a normal projection. I think its.. we are getting better & better at making products. With respect to handling & performance we are lot better than many bikes.
Nikhil- What has been the greatest failure at Ather?
Arun- Its too many. At some point of time, you know. You trying building product you are not supposed to. I think we do that for very short period. We realised we need to double down on performance.
Nikhil- Tarun talked about EV policy, what’s your view.
Ravneet- Honestly we love EV policy. You have seen in papers in last few weeks that FAME2 has not worked. We are not in that place. We think it’s a great policy. Because what it does is, I will just reiterate what Tarun said, it incentivises good players, credible players. It incentivises localisation, produces local supply chain. Whereas the subsidy is on performance models, it is not coincidence that we are seeing launch of some great products.
Arun- Most people cribbing about it are those who can’t meet the bare minimum requirement. Honestly I understand why they are cribbing, but like come on, the requirements are so low, if you can’t even meet that, I don’t think you deserves it.
Nikhil- What are your plans for international expansion?
Ravneet- We have been getting lots of interest from different parts of world from very long time. South east Asia. We have got interest from Europe, its electric and connected theme there. Its good balance in south east asia & Europe. Market is there. Originally we thought that we first work on Indian market & after certain acceleration go international. But then we realised that if we do that then for next 20 years we can’t go anywhere, there is no point breaking, so we are fast tracking international. Fingers crossed, if things go well, you can see us hitting first international market in about 12-15 months.
Nikhil- Someone texted me from Canada that can he import ather 450 there.
Ravneet- Oh, I can tell you. We got text from Canada, Australia, Mauritius, Nepal.
Arun- Now I am taking next job to head to Mauritius.
Ravneet- Oh yeah, he is going to be leaving his job as product head. He is going to be looking at opening dealership and sales in Mauritius.
Nikhil- I am happy to see an Indian brand getting international attention.
Ravneet- See we got lot of international demand. And these are people who are not making general enquiry, these are genuinely interested. They will come & meet you, tell us time and where ever. On serious note, you know if you look at, if you cast your eye globally, how many credible strong scooters you see. You see performance bikes, you see cars. But how many scooters in world do you see? This is why you are seeing the demand. Not because hey its an Indian brand, because they believe in products they can work upon geographies & can compete with the best in their markets. That’s why you are seeing the demand.
Nikhil- Most people buying Ather or Tesla are not buying it for environment, but for the product they are.
Ravneet- Listen, nobody wants to pay to save the world. Saving the world is someone else’s problem. I want a good product I will get one. And fastest way, if you want to save the world, get a good product.
Nikhil- Ok, what has been your silliest password ever?
Ravneet- Silliest password!! Aa, if I say silliest password its still alive, so I can’t really tell you. That’s a password we use for one of the wifi, so it will be a security issue at office. But what I can tell you is that the password was set by Swapnil Jain. If you know the password, you would know the kind of man he is!!!
Nikhil- Thank you sir.
Ravneet- Hey, thank you.
Arun- Thank you.