Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, has made an undisclosed personal investment in Coimbatore-based Hemalatha Annamalai’s electric bike company Ampere Vehicles Pvt Ltd, making it Tata’s ninth known investment in the technology space since he retired as executive chairman of Tata Sons in 2012.
Ampere Vehicles Pvt Ltd had last raised about Rs 20 crore from India’s Forum Synergies and Spain’s Axon Capital.
Annamalai, a computer software engineer from Government College of Technology (Coimbatore) and an MBA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), started Ampere in 2008. She pooled in personal savings of around Rs 10 crore to kick start the venture.
Ampere’s existing investor Forum Synergies has also put money in this round, according to a report in The Hindu newspaper, which was the first to report this development.
Ampere would be Tata’s first automobile startup investment. Under his chairmanship, Tata Sons’ arm Tata Motors had conceived the Nano, now one of the world’s cheapest cars.
Ampere, which sells electric vehicles and special purpose vehicles for the differently abled among others, will use the money to scale up operations and expand its talent pool. It sells products under brand names such as Angel, Bobo, Prince and V60 in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Recently, Tata put money in Ola, the
country’s largest cab aggregator. He has also backed Paytm parent One97 Communications, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and CarDekho besides investing in Chinese handset maker Xiaomi.
This marks the second venture funding in electric vehicle space this year. Recently, Bangalore-based startup Ather Energy Pvt Ltd, which is designing electric scooters and is aiming to roll out its first product by next year, raised a significant sized Series A round of funding from Tiger Global.
Sales of electric vehicles in the country are estimated to have declined by a fifth to around 16,000 units in the year ended March 31, 2015 over the previous year. It is a far cry from sales milestone of 100,000 units as recently as four years ago.
Hero Motor Corp with their Electric Motorcycle and Ather Energy with their Electric scooter are the most awaited electric bike makers. While Tata is expected to release the Tata Nano Electric car very soon. Thus the year 2016 would be a very Electric year for the Indian Automobile Industry.