Automobiles

Ather Energy Electric Scooter

Ather Energy – The Future of Commute

Since the news of Ather having launched two ‘smart’ electric scooters in the country – the 340 and 450, got me wanting a test ride. Similar interests was built up amongst the fellow members of our biking group – ‘The Kriegers’. Fellow rider and friend Shoubhik took initiative, got speaking with them and arranged for a test ride specifically for us on a Sunday morning of 01 July 2018.


The Showroom

Ather Energy is a Bengaluru based company with its first office/showroom located on the Indiranagar main road. A distinct colour theme of black and white is made evident from the interiors to it’s highlighter – the scooter. The entrance has one wall section giving an subtle yet clever ode to the end of the exhaust pipe on two-wheelers. Facing which stands two Ather scooters under ceiling lights doing it’s thing…showing off. Brilliant!

Walk in further and each wall section highlights the scooter’s functions and features. On top of a table is one Ather scooter stripped off all its outer body panels and wiring to proudly display its aluminium-steel framework with its battery and motor. Another corner has another scooter with its charging unit against the wall. Besides which a wall area that has the information relating to the warranty, pricing, Ather One subscription plans.


The Scooter

The scooter is designed and well built up from scratch giving the rider/owner an exhilarating experience considering the current traffic and road conditions. On first glance, the scooter in its a black and white colour suit gives the vibe of a clean functional machine and this it very much is. Straight lines, clear curves with the side stand, rear foot rest, bag holder at footboard and the pillion grab rails all integrated within the body perimeters. The scooter doesn’t come with a center stand with the clear message that it does not want to add any unnecessary extra weight. Front and back lights are clear, bright functional LED lights. Body panels are kept clean white with no clutter of bright colours and/or graphics. Just a small green tag below the pillion seat area with the word ‘ATHER’ keeping the information small, neat and clear. With shape and appearance, the Ather scooter could easily be mistaken for a product of Apple. For those wanting to be different/ stand out from the crowd or just wanting to pimp their ride, the scooter’s white body panels is a good canvas to explore/experiment with. Personally, I love it just the way it is and would NOT alter it anyway. It’s just perfect!

The dashboard upfront houses the large 7.0-inch full-colour capacitive touchscreen, (a first on any Indian scooter). The screen is an IP65 rated waterproof unit that has lots of features which can be controlled via a mobile app. There is the option to connect headphones (inside of helmets) to the display via bluetooth, to receive navigational directions, however this function has been deactivated due to traffic laws not permitting this yet.The standard features being a speedometer, odometer, trip meter, clock, average-speed indicator and a range display (in km). Additional features are accessible via drop-down menus from corners of the screen such as settings, rider info, navigation and park assist. Park assist helps move the scooter at a speed of 2kph … in reverse! A definite first on scooters, will help riders move the scooter out from tight parking spots and/or inclines.

Each scooter comes with a permanently installed SIM card, that which constantly collects GPS location and riding style information such as acceleration, braking or cornering. A six-axis IMU and a gyroscope transmits a complete telemetry of the rider and vehicle at any point in time. This can not be viewed by the user, however on approaching the company office, one can visually see the information on a large screen display. Something quite out from a sci-fi movie and this one must try out at least once. Very impressive indeed. Initially, all of this is taken care of by Ather, however this will be chargeable and be part of subscription service much like how mobile phone charges operate.


Inside the Scooter

The framework or skeleton of the scooter is mostly made up of aluminium but for the head stock unit (that which is of steel), making up for most of the scooter’s total weight of 118kgs. Enough thought has gone in to make sure there is enough space is provided in the under seat area. Up top on the dashboard is where all the electronics of the scooter are controlled from.

The heart of the scooter is located at the foot board. Weighing at about 20kg, the Li-Ion battery pack is designed and built to provide high capacity of 2.4 kWh for range, high power output for a quick acceleration and speed, a long life upto of 50,000 km, and fast-charging up to 80% at 1 km. Ather chose to go with a Li-on battery as against a more compact and lighter Li-Po battery, all for valid reasons – stores more energy, costs less to manufacture and has longer lifespan.

The BLDC motor offers an optimum 20.5 Nm of instant torque and a peak power output of 5.4kW for cruising at top speed. The motor also helps regain energy back using regenerative braking when slowing down. Floor mounted battery pack and low mounted motor accounts to it’s 51:49 front:rear weight ratio for great handling while leaning and turning. The zero lateral offset and ​symmetrical weight distribution for better balance. This setup also gives it the lowest center of gravity amongst all scooters currently available in the country.

Progressive mono-shock suspension gives super comfort with its softer response back especially over bumps on rough roads. Front and rear disc brakes with the combined braking system (CBS) over 12-inch wheels (90/90 R12s at both ends), delivers good braking either for gradual or sudden stopping.


Test Ride

After the presentation indoors, it was time for the test ride. Outside the showroom, to it’s side stood 4 scooters facing the charging units up on the wall. Two scooters were specially kept aside for us (The Kriegers) to test ride the scooters that morning.

The charging units is currently offered to buyers with the scooter’s price. These home charging units do a slow charge overnight to fully power up the scooter. Besides this, Ather has already installed fast charging points at various locations within the city. Do note that Ather recommends to slow charge up the scooter to lengthen the lifespan of the battery and use the fast charge option only in times of emergency. Ather is currently identifying more locations in and around the city where they can install these fast charging units. The charging unit also comes with a regular 15 Amp point as an option to charge from as well. A point to note is that the charging cable end is child safe ensuring safety of its usage.

We took turns in batches of two do a test ride. Each time one returned back to the start point, they had a broad grin to show of their excitement and complete flipped over approval of the scooter. My turn came up along with another friend and biker. Turn the key to on position and the dashboard display comes on. One can choose forward or reverse mode via dashboard or power button/brake lever toggle action. Tried out the reverse parking assist first and was at first odd – to register that the two-wheeler was in fact moving backwards.

Unlike all other vehicles wherein the sound of the exhaust note and/or the vibration of the handle bar makes us aware that the vehicle is on and ready to move ahead, it’s difficult at first to remind oneself that the bike is in fact on. A twist of the handle grip and with just a soft ‘wizz’ sound, the scooter moves forward effortlessly. Just as I turn onto the main road and accelerate a bit and in moments have touched a speed of 73 km/hour, no sooner to hit the brakes as I near the traffic signal intersection.

We ride off the main road and into the narrow inner lanes to test the scooter on actual city road conditions that are usually the norm. Potholes, stupid speed breakers, gravel, unevenly tarred roads, stray dogs and cows, pedestrians walking and/or crossing the road without looking out, other vehicles moving with no lane discipline whatsoever and the persistent honking of the average Indian. Bear in mind, I haven’t used the horn for several years now and did NOT have the need to even now, despite the fact the Ather scooter is rather silent.

People looked on at the scooter with curiosity, while other two wheelers on the road barely realized the presence of the Ather scooter behind or besides them. The scooter can be slanted without worry and easy to maneuver. It was noon and by the end of the test ride, it left me with the desire to want one. Only time will tell.

Ather representative’s response to some of my queries:

  • Q: If one needs another personal charging unit to be installed at another/secondary home location?
    Ans: There would be additional charges to it that Ather still needs to work on.
  • Q: A home charging unit that comes with each scooter is unique to that scooter. What if a friend needs to charge his scooter at my home?
    Ans: At present, one would need to call Ather for the user to get access to charge that other scooter.
  • Q: Can I charge my mobile phone and/or any other electronic device from the scooter or the charging unit?
    Ans: No, currently not possible but might be integrated in the next upgrade.
  • Q: Is it possible to replicate my mobile phone screen onto the dashboard display panel (think I might be asking for too much here)?
    Ans: No

Some links to check out:
ZigWheels : Link to a video
AutoCarIndia : Review
OverDrive : Review


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One comment

  • July 10, 2018 - 4:36 am | Permalink

    Very descriptive. Thanks 🙂

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