Sachin Bansal leads $51 million round in e-scooter firm Ather Energy

Sachin Bansal | File photo
Flipkart Co-Founder Sachin Bansal has led a $51-million funding round in electric scooter (e-scooter) company Ather Energy. 

According to the Bengaluru-based start-up, Sachin, who was one of the early backers of the company, pumped in $32 million in equity funding in the fresh round, while the remaining was by existing investor Hero MotoCorp, which converted its $19 million of earlier debt into equity. In addition to this, InnoVen Capital has also extended $8-million in venture debt.

Back in 2014, Sachin, who was then the chief executive officer (CEO) of Flipkart, had put $500,000 in Ather Energy as an angel investor. “The traditional auto industry is up for re-definition. Watching Ather closely since my early investment in 2014, I am convinced that the ecosystem that Ather is building with its products is the future of urban mobility,” said Sachin in a statement. 

“Its focus on end-to-end customer experience will open up new revenue opportunities and accelerate the adoption of e-vehicles in India. The future is electric and I am excited to be a part of this journey in shaping the future,” Sachin added.

Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart for $16 billion last year not only provided blockbuster exits to its investors but also turned the founders — Sachin and Binny Bansal — into billionaires. Both Sachin as well as Binny are now active in the Indian start-up ecosystem, backing several of the promising start-ups through their personal funds and family offices.

Besides Ather, Sachin has also made investments in ride-hailing company Ola, scooter-sharing start-ups Vogo and Bounce, and SigTuple, which uses artificial intelligence to aid medical diagnosis.

The e-vehicle market in India is forecast to reach nearly $2 billion by 2022-23 (FY23), according to TechSci Research report. It is expected to grow on the back of increasing consumer inclination towards e-vehicles, coupled with growing concerns associated with rising air pollution levels across the country. 

Ather, which was founded in 2013 by IIT-Madras alumni, Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, is betting big to capitalise on this opportunity. In June last year, the company opened its flagship product Ather 450 for pre-orders in Bengaluru, while deliveries started in September. The firms said its e-scooters have piquéd the interest of automobile and tech enthusiasts alike, selling out stocks till September 2019. 

The company is now entering an aggressive expansion phase, with the opening of pre-orders in Chennai in the coming weeks, and eventually scaling to 30 cities by the end of FY23. To meet the projected demand in the coming years, Ather is planning a new manufacturing facility, which will be designed to produce 1 million vehicles a year. The company also plans to set up 6,500 AtherGrid fast-charging points across the country over the next five years, with a projected investment of Rs 130 crore. 

“Sachin has been part of our growth journey and this investment is a strong endorsement of the momentum we’ve built over these years,” said Tarun Mehta, co-founder and CEO, Ather Energy. “After the successful launch in Bengaluru, we are eager to reach out to consumers in other cities and to build more products that will excite consumers to switch to e-vehicles.”

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