At 26, Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain are building India’s first line of smart scooters
Revolution is in the offing – something that might just change the way urban India commutes in the future, and it’s happening right here in Bengaluru.
We are getting closer to finally having an electric scooter that is designed and manufactured in India, from start-to-finish. Test runs are on and customer trials shall follow soon. That’s AtherS340 for you.
The credit for this Made-in-India feat goes to Bengaluru-based startup, Ather Energy. It was founded by engineering design graduates Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013, who moved to the city from their alma mater, IIT-Madras, to get their pet project on track. “The startup community here is quite welcoming to stupid or out-of-the-box ideas,” says 26-year-old Mehta, who takes care of marketing, hiring and fund raising.
Here’s why the idea of AtherS340 seemed audacious to many, until it attracted backing from the giants of the likes of Flipkart and Tiger Global.
It is beyond a better performing electric two-wheeler; it is also an ‘e-scooter’. It will come fixed with a tablet on the dashboard. Much like your smartphone, you can feed the destination in the Google Maps of its dashboard and follow the route. You, your family members and friends can, in fact, save their respective go-to destinations in advance. It will also alert you if there’s an accident on the next turn, and even track down the thief of your prized possession. It top speeds to 75 kmph, negotiates the turns better, and offers a battery life of at least five years.
With gasoline fuel tank making way for the disruptive technology of Lithium-ion batteries, it looks different, surely a head-turner.
No wonder that the ‘intelligent vehicle’ would come for a premium of a lakh or more, when it hits the tar next year. One can get two Honda Electric scooters in that price. But the duo is not losing sleep over this. They have received a 1,000-plus sign-ups for customer trials, scheduled this year-end, without even kicking a marketing campaign.
Mehta explains, “Our target customers are people from Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and even Pune. People who like technology, and want to experience new things for the joy of it. We did graduate to costlier smartphones eventually, didn’t we?”
“Being a first-of-its-kind product, it’s difficult to keep the cost down. But our focus is to build a great product. If that adds to cost, it’s okay for now,” says Jain, who looks into the development of tools and technology which is making this futuristic scooter a reality.
— Barkha Kumari