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Old 16th February 2021, 19:06   #1
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Default Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

The quest for an electric scooter
My father always relied on two wheelers as his predominant choice of transportation. Despite stepping well into his 70s, there is no respite in his preference for two wheels over four. Our car leads a charmed life, parked under a roof, regularly cleaned and serviced and rarely put to task.

The two wheelers on the other hand are replaced every 3-4 years due to the mileage and perhaps more because of the abuse it endures. Presently his noble steed is an Activa 125-disc, which is due for replacement.

Having a considerable solar power set up at home, I recommended an Electric scooter, specifically the Ather. He said he shall check it out.

In terms of competition, the Bajaj/TVS electric scooters haven't been launched in our city and have miniscule production runs. Bajaj just about manages to put together one Chetak a month!

The Ather
I liked Ather from day 1. An Indian start up that has taken a fresh approach and launched a really attractive product. I was really excited to learn my father's opinion after checking this out, very confident that he would be impressed.

The latter happened. He is convinced it is not for him. Says there is a lot happening, but all he wants is a scooter to take him from A to B. Few days later I asked him again, he said the experience was nice but he did not need all these features. I get the feeling he was intimidated by the tech.

An Aam Aadmi model
I understand Ather needs to differentiate itself in the market, especially the plethora of cheap chinese kit assembled contraptions that has sadly flooded India.

But there is a massive market out there who want a good electric scooter and are willing to pay a premium for the same. Yet what they need is an electric replacements of their Activas and Scootys, not a Tesla on two wheels.

Charge it, Start it, Run it! No drama, no bluetooth connectivity, no phone apps, no voice commands, no customer exclusives.... a simple good quality electric scooter with a speedo and battery charge/range indicator.

Perhaps buy the Lamby/Vijay/Lambretta brands when its up for sale soon and start a parallel range of mainstream e-scooters! I am sure there is a big vacuum for the same.
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Old 16th February 2021, 19:26   #2
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

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Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
The two wheelers on the other hand are replaced every 3-4 years due to the mileage and perhaps more because of the abuse it endures. Presently his noble steed is an Activa 125-disc, which is due for replacement.
Off-topic point but this is extremely surprising! Activas (and a good % of the other gearless models) age very well! 3-4 years is extremely extremely short to talk about replacement.

As a comparison, we have a bunch of Activa, Deo and Scooty Peps and what not - each of them goes well over 8-10 years of heavy duty usage before the question of replacement comes up.


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But there is a massive market out there who want a good electric scooter and are willing to pay a premium for the same. Yet what they need is an electric replacements of their Activas and Scootys, not a Tesla on two wheels.
Very true. But the 2 wheeler EV market is still developing. It's still a niche market, irrespective of all the noise being made. The day it picks up steam, you'll see 2 wheeler EVs ranging from a Tesla (equivalent) To a M800 in the market, each priced accordingly to the 'value' of that vehicle.

Leaving aside the pricing/cost aspects, we are still a year or two away from having an EV version of the ubiquitous Activa (and that's putting it very optimistically).
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Old 17th February 2021, 18:34   #3
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

I can say that even I am at same condition as mentioned by @shortbread.
My father although in 60s still prefer scooter over a car and yes at that age he will prefer a simple running scooter with no complexities.
You can consider it as preference of feature phone over smart phone.
Many people now want to try out electric vehicle which is more reliable but simple to use and maintain.
People like my father will never like to spend his energy in learning the modern stuff, mobile connectivity, error notification, map display etc etc. And forget about subscription model which I feel is "the thing" for younger generation.
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Old 17th February 2021, 22:21   #4
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

You should take a look at Bajaj's eChetak. It has no frills and it is cheaper than the Ather 450x. Covid19 had thrown their plans off track, but they appear to be getting back to it. https://www.chetak.com

Another option if you like a motorbike build is the Revolt RV400 (not the lower model).

As a note, Ather does have a buy back option after a few years. Note : Ather does spend effort in getting Ather Grid up and running. They are adding more fast charge points to Pune (a few have cropped up after the initial batch). The level of commitment that they have to electric two wheelers is beyond what the giants like Bajaj and TVS are current doing. You can see the difference in the final product in terms of ride, handling and maturity in battery management systems and so on.

Last edited by ohaak : 17th February 2021 at 22:27.
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Old 17th February 2021, 22:35   #5
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

OT: Reading the topic, I thought that Ather is looking for ordinary mango men/women as models for its ads to connect with the people who buy them
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Old 18th February 2021, 08:22   #6
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

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Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
An Aam Aadmi model
I understand Ather needs to differentiate itself in the market, especially the plethora of cheap chinese kit assembled contraptions that has sadly flooded India.

But there is a massive market out there who want a good electric scooter and are willing to pay a premium for the same. Yet what they need is an electric replacements of their Activas and Scootys, not a Tesla on two wheels.
For last 2 days, I was thinking the same on your lines.

However, this morning, I had a different thought - Why should?

I mean, why should Ather change to Aam Aadmi model? What happens to those existing customers who thought they were having a very premium product feel? Yes, there will be new business, new customers, money flowing in, but, at what cost? Wouldn't there be more customers feel the same Aam Aadmi?

It was the same question I had in mind in 2017 when I was hunting for a car. Why Audi & Mercedes is not making an Aam Aadmi model or a model for India? At least Skoda has an entry model like Rapid, why not Porsche make an entry model for India with 20L?

I think every manufacturer makes a certain model in target to certain group of customers. And as a customer we've a choice whether to belong or walk away from that group. It's not just auto, there're several brands in every verticals & segment. Jaquar (bath fittings, not the car) is another example which is not again for Aam Aadmi. As customer we have a choice to opt for Jaquar, Roca, Parryware, Waterman or a fitting that's made in Karolbagh.
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Old 18th February 2021, 08:25   #7
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

There is Bajaj Chetak which is an Aam Admi model with simple dashboard and decent range as well
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Old 18th February 2021, 11:05   #8
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ohaak View Post
You should take a look at Bajaj's eChetak. It has no frills and it is cheaper than the Ather 450x. Covid19 had thrown their plans off track, but they appear to be getting back to it. https://www.chetak.com
My dream bike in this segment would be E-versions fitted into CLASSIC bodies of Chetak & Lambretta/Vijay Super.
In fact Lambretta's model would not even require any major mods as its centre engine located rather than Chetak which had engine mounted on one side.

If wishes were horses beggars would ride.
Regards,
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Old 18th February 2021, 12:47   #9
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
An Aam Aadmi model

Charge it, Start it, Run it! No drama, no bluetooth connectivity, no phone apps, no voice commands, no customer exclusives.... a simple good quality electric scooter with a speedo and battery charge/range indicator.
What makes you think that we pay premium price for these features?. The primary cost in any EV is the battery followed by BLDC motor then the frame. The cost of the electronics would be the least as kits for Bluetooth and LCD screens are available in few hundred rupees. I am talking retail so wholesale would be even lower. So I don't see any much price difference even if they do opt for a mango model which would utilize the same basic setup.

Last edited by srini1785 : 18th February 2021 at 12:48.
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Old 18th February 2021, 13:10   #10
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
The quest for an electric scooter
The Ather
I liked Ather from day 1. An Indian start up that has taken a fresh approach and launched a really attractive product. I was really excited to learn my father's opinion after checking this out, very confident that he would be impressed.

The latter happened. He is convinced it is not for him. Says there is a lot happening, but all he wants is a scooter to take him from A to B. Few days later I asked him again, he said the experience was nice but he did not need all these features. I get the feeling he was intimidated by the tech.

An Aam Aadmi model
I understand Ather needs to differentiate itself in the market, especially the plethora of cheap chinese kit assembled contraptions that has sadly flooded India.

But there is a massive market out there who want a good electric scooter and are willing to pay a premium for the same. Yet what they need is an electric replacements of their Activas and Scootys, not a Tesla on two wheels.

Charge it, Start it, Run it! No drama, no bluetooth connectivity, no phone apps, no voice commands, no customer exclusives.... a simple good quality electric scooter with a speedo and battery charge/range indicator.

Perhaps buy the Lamby/Vijay/Lambretta brands when its up for sale soon and start a parallel range of mainstream e-scooters! I am sure there is a big vacuum for the same.
Nice topic and I completely understand your point.

Let's take a look at the Business strategy of Tesla. At the time of Tesla's founding, electric vehicles were very expensive. So they first produced high-price, low volume vehicles, for a less price-sensitive market. This allowed them to slowly bring down the cost of batteries and tech, which in turn allowed them to offer cheaper and higher volume cars. Their first vehicle, the Roadster, was a low-volume vehicle and was priced at over $100,000. The next models, the Model S and Model X, were more affordable but still luxury vehicles. The recent Model 3 and the Model Y are priced still lower, and aimed at a higher volume market

Now Ather's situation and approach is very similar from what we've seen so far. EV in India is still expensive. So the 450x is expensive. after sometime they can reduce cost and offer at lesser cost. But it'll take some time when they actually can start to do this.

For you, Looking at the usage and since Bajaj and TVS EVs are still not available, and the fact that you've liked the 450x, I'd suggest you to buy the 450+. It's the lower variant of 450x. Although it is slightly low on performance on paper compared tot he 450x, it is still very good. Do not buy any of their connectivity subscription plans as you have written that your dad won't really need all those tech.
The current 125cc ICE scooters are 1Lakhs and this is 1.4lakhs. Worst case per km saving on an Ather is 1.5rupees. So the 40k additional initial cost will be recovered in 25k odd kms.

By doing this you'll get a vehicle that you can Charge it, Start it, Run it! No drama, no bluetooth connectivity, no phone apps, no voice commands, no customer exclusives.... a simple good quality electric scooter with a speedo and battery charge/range indicator.

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 18th February 2021 at 13:14.
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Old 18th February 2021, 15:58   #11
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
Charge it, Start it, Run it! No drama, no bluetooth connectivity, no phone apps, no voice commands, no customer exclusives.... a simple good quality electric scooter with a speedo and battery charge/range indicator.
These days even normal petrol scooters come with connected tech, Bluetooth and what not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
But there is a massive market out there who want a good electric scooter and are willing to pay a premium for the same. Yet what they need is an electric replacements of their Activas and Scootys, not a Tesla on two wheels.
Maybe someone in the scooter world needs to do a 'Nexon'. One of the reasons I feel for the mainstream popularity of the Nexon EV, is due to the ICE version vehicle familiarity and the price. Someone needs to electrify their best selling scooter and voila
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Old 18th February 2021, 23:00   #12
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Most discussions that I hear regarding Ather revolve around how prohibitively expensive their scooters are. Nobody talks about performance or range. The discussion starts with pricing, goes on to pricing, and ends with "I guess I am better off buying an Activa / Jupiter / Burgman etc".

If the price was slightly lower, I am sure that Ather would have sold a lot more scooters than what they do today. Then again, that needs to be balanced against production (constraints?), supply chains networks, dealership growth, managing customers etc. Im sure Ather has quite a lot of smart folks working for them who are constantly weighing these factors and pricing their offering(s) accordingly.
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Old 19th February 2021, 19:07   #13
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ohaak View Post
You should take a look at Bajaj's eChetak. It has no frills and it is cheaper than the Ather 450x.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarpadaki View Post
There is Bajaj Chetak which is an Aam Admi model with simple dashboard and decent range as well
The Chetak is the ideal solution but their production numbers are so negligible, I get a feeling its simply a token product to bring a smile to the Govt's EV champions. They have only launched in two cities to date and even there there are massive waiting periods.

Also, I hate Bajaj's front link suspension on their scooters, it was terrible on their Safire scooter range and they switched to forks later. But my primary issue is availability.
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Old 20th February 2021, 09:54   #14
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
Let's take a look at the Business strategy of Tesla. At the time of Tesla's founding, electric vehicles were very expensive. So they first produced high-price, low volume vehicles, for a less price-sensitive market.

Now Ather's situation and approach is very similar from what we've seen so far. EV in India is still expensive. So the 450x is expensive.

[/b]
Well, Ather is actually going the opposite way to Tesla. 450x priced much higher than 450. At the time of 450 launch they said, they will launch cheaper models in the future, but they actually launched a much costlier model. Initially, they said they will sell through their own showrooms but later to had to expand through third-party dealerships due to costs involved. Also, now they are spending a lot of money on ads while Tesla still doesn't advertise on TV or print media.

Also, the 125cc models cost 1 lakh on-road but Ather 450 plus costs 1.42 lakhs ex-showroom. Insurance is extra. In many states, there is no waiver for road tax.

The major reason for the price increase is I believe is, their fixed costs grew rapidly while their sales stayed very low for too long. Most of the fixed costs are for high-paid employees who are working on so-called smart features. Sadly, based on Ather forum complaints, even basic features like ride stats sync, navigation are not working properly even after more than 2 years of 450 launch. Even in the latest model (450x) which has better hardware, there is little improvement.

They started spending huge amounts of money on ads for the last few months which I believe is due to low demand.

The big issue for potential customers is, there are not many alternatives. Bajaj fits the bill perfectly but its availability is pathetic. It's the same for TVS iQube. I was hoping for Ather to push the traditional companies towards EVs but the launch of 450x dashed that entirely. Soon, we may see silent price increases for Chetak and iQube. The last hope is Ola (Etergo) scooter which is rumored to have aggressive pricing. They are building a much higher capacity and most of the R&D work is already done by Etergo. With Ola's plan of producing much higher volumes, they will be able to reap the economics of scale.
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Old 20th February 2021, 11:10   #15
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Default Re: Ather needs an 'Aam Aadmi' model!

I tend to differ. If I were to segment the motorcycle market, it'd broadly be
1. People who ride a motorcycle for a specific purpose and hence have a predictable range - think of office goers, moms who drop kids in schools/classes etc.
2. People who ride motorcycle everywhere for business - swiggy delivery guys, service professionals like plumbers, electricians etc. and sales guys in banking, financials, pharma sectors.
3. People who ride motorcycle anywhere for pleasure - weekend bullet guys

I'd think Ather's target is only the first segment. The second segment needs intra-day charging which may or may not be available at the time they want it. Their scooters can be charged to 10km range in 15 minutes? That's a lot for these guys. May be a section of the third segment will be interested, but that's a miniscule number.

Within the first segment (based on my observations in Bangalore, Chennai etc.), many single professionals live in shared rental houses and there's a lot of flux there. They keep changing residences. They'd have to consider getting a professional to move their Ather Dot to new residence, negotiate with roomates on how to share the electricity bill etc. When these people get married and graduate to a single family home, they have their sights set on a car.

That leaves a small fraction of the first segment where the owner is fairly settled in a rental or own house, has predictable riding pattern and specific needs. This is not to say Ather shouldn't launch a cheaper scooter. I just think they are better off in spending that R&D money on increasing range of existing models, bring down service costs and build the charging infrastructure faster in big metros. When scale economies kick in, the existing 450 models might become viable to the general populace.
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