Suggestion for Ather – Part 1 – Infrastructure Support!

Part of the problems with Electric Vehicles in countries like India is that there are not enough “Re-fueling” stations on the Highway. Chetan Maini’s Reva Startup did manage to set quite a few charging stations in and around Bangalore but did not set enough on the Highways for Intercity travel, probably Chetan didn’t imagine people might take a 80km-range car inter-city! Probably he was right but to see the countryside such a car was excellent, especially as people have to stretch/refresh themselves after an hour or two of driving during holidays or weekends.

Ather Bike with its expected range of even 80kms has the ability to travel to travel 640kms in 6 hours of charging or say 12 hours (riding+charging)!!! Which means by you could travel from Mumbai or Bangalore to Goa in 12 hours taking into consideration travel time +charging time.

Today the top end E2O strangely called T20 can travel 120kms which is great as most weekend getaway/picnic spots are around 100km to 150km distance. But there is no guarantee that they will find charging spots for the car for 4hrs to come back.

Reva probably expected the Government to think about the welfare of the country and build infrastructure to save foreign exchange. Failure to build enough charging spots on the highway stopped E2O from expanding hugely. For eg take the Loon Project – There are many places on earth that do not receive Facebook for lack of wired or wireless (wi-fi) Internet… how did Facebook solve this problem? By building Internet providing Baloons/Drones for them. Soon Sri Lanka will become the 1st country in the world which will have 100% free Internet. Is it free service? Not exactly as Facebook will get revenue from advertisements, probably they will charge the users a minor amount, and probably they will charge the companies that will use the internet services – companies like e-commerce firms, apps, cell phone providers, video streaming sites etc. Here Facebook technically becomes the “Google Play” or Content Store for everything. Facebook could have spent a lot of time in convincing the government, explaining the business to other companies, engaging startups to build this… but the result all could be zero. Facebook solved the lack of Infrastructure (telephone cables, electricity) by setting up balloons running off Solar panels to carry data through laser transmission for internet.
Just like Facebook it will be a good idea for Ather to set up its Infrastructure. Just like there is revenue for Facebook in the Internet there is revenue for Ather in setting up charging Infrastructure. These dealerships could double up as solar paneled charging stations where the riders will park their vehicle pay for the charge required and walk away to do his chores/make calls/shop/have coffee/unwind/watch TV on the premium Ather branded leather couch at the dealership especially when there is a cricket match on.

About Charging Stations:
1. Franchises for Charging Stations could be invited with ability to charge at least 5 bikes or 2 cars simultaneously.
2. The Charging Station/dealership should be made with ability to charge Ather bike as well as other Cars like E2O, Leaf etc.
3. The Charging Station must have at least One Fast Food counter & Grocery store.
4. And probably Car/Bike Washing, Polishing & Tyre services

Ather must set up a team that will travel on the highways and find convenient places to park and charge and convince the owner to open a charging station which will get the owner good money. They have to set up this strategically too. There is no point building 100 stations in each city but not having anything in between cities. For example Mumbai to Lonavala is 82 kms but no E2O owner will do this journey because
1) There is no charging stations near the climbing before the steep hills (Ghats) start so they are not sure they will have enough energy to reach the top.
2) They are unsure to find a place to charge at Lonavala. There is no charging facility even at most Hotels.

This is a very important step that the EV companies have to do – they have to not only build vehicles but in countries like India they also have to develop the infrastructure which too will be as profitable venture.

So Ather make sure you guys build the infrastructure too in such a way the Mahindra guys can charge from you guys and vice versa. The guys at PlugInIndia have done some awesome work by setting up charging points at strategic locations in the Country. All This will add a force multiplier force effect to Electric vehicles this is much needed as we at PlugInCaroo do not expect Petrol prices to increase over $80 per barrel. Peak oil arrived early… The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil. The Modi Sarkar has indirectly helped the EV section by holding on the previous prices in spite of Crude oil falling from $120 to $60 a barrel without which Petrol could have been as cheap as Rs 40 per ltr. Cheap petrol would mean lesser attraction for Electric Vehicles. Year 2015 to 2016 will see a boom in petrol based cars and bikes. The possibility of the price of Petrol going beyond Rs 100 per ltr in the next 10 years is very bleak.

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