Electric two-wheeler company Ather Energy has raised $128 million (₹989.1 crore) in series E funding from the government-anchored National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited’s (NIIFL) Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF), its existing shareholder Hero MotoCorp and other investors. Ather Energy plans to use these funds to expand manufacturing facilities, invest in research and development and charging infrastructure, and grow its retail network.

With the current round, Ather Energy's total funding stands at $286 million at the valuation of $591 million (as of January 27, 2022), research firm Tracxn data shows. Apart from Hero MotoCorp, the Bengaluru-based Ather Energy is backed by the founders of Flipkart -- Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal -- and Tiger Global.

The current funding comes six months after the electric auto company had raised $17.3 million as conventional debt from Hero MotoCorp in October 2021. Before that, Sachin Bansal and Hero MotoCorp had infused $35.1 million in series D funding in Ather in November 2020.

Ather Energy sold 3,779 units in April 2022, its highest ever monthly sales, on the back of strong bookings for its flagship product Ather 450X e-scooter. The sales grew by 25% quarter-on-quarter. Its current models, Ather 450 Plus and Ather 450X, are priced at ₹1,31,647 and ₹1,50,657, respectively.

Tarun Mehta, CEO, Ather Energy, said this investment will help the company focus on new platforms by expanding into new geographies and increasing its fast-charging network. “The switch to electric is inevitable and FY 22’ was the turning point for electric two-wheeler adoption in India," he adds.

For the government sovereign fund NIIFL, it’s the first direct investment in the manufacturing sector and in electric mobility. It manages funds with investments in different asset classes and diversified sectors. It manages over $4.3 billion of equity capital commitments across its three funds – Master Fund, Fund of Funds, and Strategic Opportunities Fund.

Also, this is SOF’s fourth investment after its infusion of money in two infrastructure financing NBFCs (Aseem Infrastructure Finance and NIIF IFL) and healthcare chain Manipal Hospitals.

Padmanabh Sinha, executive director & chief investment officer, NIIFL, said the electric two-wheeler industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. "Ather Energy has indigenously designed and developed products with a high degree of domestic sourcing of components and adaptability to Indian conditions," he adds.

Ather Energy was founded in 2013 by IIT Madras alumni, Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain. It is currently present in 32 cities, with 38 experience centres. It has a target to expand to 150 experience centres in 100 cities by 2023.

Apart from its flagship products, Ather 450 Plus Ather 450X, Ather Energy is reportedly planning to come up with two new models in this range. One of the two models is expected to be a long-range version of 450X, which will have a bigger battery pack, while the other may come with some upgrades. These new models in the 450 range are expected to come into the market by the year-end or next year.

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