• Ather S340

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India’s first smart electric scooter

“Electric vehicles is the future” is what you will see under the banner of every automotive manufacturer now. They are moving away from the addiction to liquefied dinosaurs in a bid to a cleaner alternative to protect the environment. Time and again it has been proved that electric/hybrid vehicles have an overwhelming advantage especially to ride within the town and this evolution has been a gradual process for some – and an exciting start for others.

We had, not long ago, featured the Tork T6X: the country’s first production electric motorcycle. Now, a Bangalore-based startup, Ather Energy, has been in this pursuit since their inception in 2013 and are on an epic journey to give the country’s first premium electric smart scooter christened as Ather S340. The company was founded by two IIT-ians who are committed to building smart, connected, uncompromising vehicles and seeks to reimagine urban commute with the help of technology.

Their first offering is the Ather S340, which they are building it from the ground up and promise to change the way we perceive the electric transport till now. The company has received fundings to the tune of ₹6.3 crores from Flipkart, ₹76 crores from Tiger Global and the very recently ₹205 crores from the world’s biggest manufacturer of two wheelers, Hero MotoCorp. This has allowed Ather to sustain momentum in its journey of building a future-ready product platform and to accelerate the infrastructure and ecosystem development around electric vehicles in the country.

STYLING

The design philosophy of the scooter is a result of the inspirations taken from the performance motorcycles having a dynamic silhouette with lines and curves flowing smoothly around the body. A kicked back rear tyre section and a distinct forward-leaning profile gives the S340 a sporty stance, which is a newfound way to go with every other motorcycle coming on the streets.

Out front, you get smart LED headlamp that operates itself depending on the ambient light conditions and controls the intensity to suitably illuminate your path effortlessly without you having to squint. The front looks sharp and the folks at Ather have done a good job in keeping up with the proportions of the vehicle all the way to the rear. The rear section also gets futuristic looking LED treatment. A part of the subframe is exposed under the rider seat and is given a green colour pigmentation which by far looks attractive and contrasts the scooter’s white body. Talking about practicality, the scooter can accommodate two helmets under the seat.

The dashboard is an interesting piece of a device which has a 7” touchscreen that integrates itself with the vehicle’s firmware. It offers various level of personalisation for each rider and you can also select from two riding modes: Sport and Economy, within the dashboard. You can also connect your smartphone to the bike’s systems that can allow you to configure your ride and profile preference. What it also does is, alert you if your scooter is being victim of theft. It syncs your GPS navigation and displays it onto your dashboard so that you never lose your way or stop to know your way. Pretty cool if you ask me.

POWERTRAIN

The S340 makes use of an electrically powered motor and a battery pack to power the scooter forward and backwards. YES! This scooter has a reverse gear too.

Perfect for running around the city, the system will give you a healthy 60 km range at the least with a top speed of 72 kph. All the power and torque is served to the rider instantly which will give you an edge in stop and go traffic conditions. The power is transmitted via an industry first belt drive. The battery can be charged through any 5A socket and will give a dash charge of 80% within 50 minutes and a full charge under 1.5 hours.

The battery pack also includes the battery monitoring system (BMS) which is an in-house design to be structurally robust, thermally efficient and intelligently packed. You can get an uncompromised ride for nearly 50000 kilometres. The IP 67 rated battery pack can wade through 1 m of water for 30 minutes and will still pull you out of trouble without a sweat.

Ather will be constantly monitoring the vehicle’s critical data and regularly keep improving the firmware and software and update them via air. This will open up a lot of opportunities to enhance your riding experience constantly within the same vehicle which will be an all new thing to experience your ride getting better and better. What more exciting is that the battery can manage itself during long breaks in Vacation mode.

RIDE AND HANDLING

Making use of aluminium for the scooter’s construction, Ather has managed to keep the weight below 90 kg. With the size being similar to any 100cc scooter plying on the road, its electric motor will give it instant delivery to make you feel like Rossi. Nonetheless, its ergonomics are well suited for an urban commute and quick dashes to your grocery store.

A balanced front and rear weight ratio will give the scooter better riding dynamics and it has the stability to negotiate even the harshest city streets, thanks to the zero lateral offset and low centre of gravity.

The exact specification of the suspension and braking units are not released, but we can see inverted forks at the front and a mono shock unit at the rear to provide a supple yet steady ride. The scooter makes use of ByBre two piston calliper units biting the disc both at the front and rear. Stylishly designed alloy wheels give the scooter a sporty outlook and wide radials will keep the scooter planted.

PRICE

No official statements regarding the pricing are out but we believe that it will be strategically priced between a Honda Activa and a Piaggio Vespa. Say around ₹90000 to 1 lakh. This has also been made possible because of the government’s initiatives towards electrical and hybrid eco-systems like the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 and FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles).

We have seen only one colour option on the palette – White body and green impeachments on the subframe that looks very modern and black alloys having green pinstripes.

COMPETITION

This is the first electric scooter that can be used on our roads that also match the performance and specs of conventional petrol powered premium scooters.

There is no one to compete in this segment and we hope we get a few in the coming years.

VERDICT

The company will be moving to the production phase sometime this year. Meanwhile, they are busy testing multiple prototypes of the S340 across various parameters to give customers the highest level of satisfaction. Ather plans to setup charging points across the city in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune in their first leg. Charging points will also be installed at a customers’ residence after the purchase. Currently, they are ramping up hiring across the board for about 100 employees in the coming year.

Since there are no much mechanical and moving parts to fail, you will not be hitting the service centres very often and maintenance costs will be close to nil. The S340 is a compact and quiet vehicle that will give you surprising acceleration and 100% torque at zero rpm without any emissions.

The social pride you get because of the notion of responsibility from creating a better, healthier planet is immense and with the increase of innovation and technology, the S340 will only get more exciting to drive.

You can visit their website to express your pre-order interest. You can get in touch with the engineers and founders themselves to know more about the scooter and be prepared to feel elevated with the conscience that you are making a difference to the planet.

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