Since the arrival of EVs, there have been reported incidents of them catching fire and these incidents have left people unwilling to venture into the electric vehicle market. However, Ather Energy’s co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta has a different opinion on the matter. “Electric two-wheelers are going mainstream and the fire incidents will only help manufacturers to focus on quality, thus helping the industry mature,” he says.
The Hero MotoCorp-backed firm expects that up to 30 million electric two-wheelers would be sold in India by the end of this decade and Ather Energy would invest a “lot more” for capacity growth over the next few years “What has happened recently, I think, has ended up maturing the industry. This will push more and more manufacturers to focus more on quality and reliability,” Mehta told PTI.
He was responding to questions on how the fire incidents of electric two-wheelers of various manufacturers, such as Okinawa, Ola Electric, PureEV, and even Ather’s sole case, would impact the growth of EVs in India. The incidents are pushing more and more players to focus on “quality as the number one parameter”, he said, adding in any case “EVs are going mainstream irrespective, but with better quality products, this will become a no brainer”.
In April this year cases of electric two-wheelers of manufacturers — such as Ola Electric, Okinawa Autotech, and PureEV — catching fire were reported. It prompted the government to form a panel to examine. Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari warned companies of penalties if they were found to be negligent and said they would be ordered to recall the defective vehicles.
Subsequently, Ola Electric recalled 1,441 units of its electric two-wheelers. Okinawa also announced its recall of 3,215 units of its Praise Pro electric scooter to fix any issue related to batteries. Similarly, Pure EV recalled 2,000 units of its ETrance+ and EPluto 7G models.
On the incident of an Ather electric scooter catching fire, Mehta said it was “an accident vehicle, where screws were replaced, water was poured in. It was not a real scenario”. “We’ve never had a fire in a functioning vehicle. We’re extremely proud of that record,” he added.
Ather Energy has focussed on quality and reliability from day one, Mehta said adding, “We’ve never rushed through a launch. We’ve never tried to skip a testing step. We’ve been building up over the last seven-eight years and we’ve stayed extremely focused”.
On the potential of the electric two-wheeler market in India, Mehta said it is going to be enormous, and “by the end of this decade, 20-30 million electric two-wheelers will be sold in the country”.
In order to keep up with the demand, he said, “We will be investing a lot more money in capacity growth over the next few years. The first two plants are just a starting point”. He, however, declined to comment on the company’s planned future investments.
Last year in November, the company announced an investment of Rs 650 crore to set up its second manufacturing plant at Hosur in Tamil Nadu to increase its overall production capacity to 4 lakh units from 1.2 lakh units per year.