Inside an EV factory, where battery meets mobility

Inside an EV factory, where battery meets mobility

Ather Energy's Hosur plant to push up annual capacity to 1.1 lakh e-scooters

Assembly line at Ather Energy's facility in Hosur. Credit: DH Photo

Electric Vehicles have been around for years. But how does a startup with zero experience in automobiles enter this space, make waves smartly integrating software, ergonomics and a battery made entirely in-house?

A visit to Bengaluru-headquartered Ather Energy’s new plant in Hosur showed how this is done and scaled up.

Launched on January 2, the 1.23 lakh sqft Hosur plant is Ather’s second plant after its Whitefield factory. Capacity upgrade to a projected 1.1 lakh electric scooters per year is the objective.

But why chose Hosur? As its co-founders explained, the idea is to scale up in an ecosystem that promises a robust supplier base. A conveyor belt with 37 stations, manned by 70 workers. This is the assembly line from a distance.

But get closer and watch the complexities unfold. Every process from rear-side sub-assembly to linking individual parts onto multiple frames are manually done and passed on to the next station.

Li-Ion battery pack?

The Li-Ion battery pack is one of the first to be integrated below the footboard. A separate assembly line, which also features a robotic unit, is part of the Hosur plant, with an annual capacity of 1.2 lakh battery packs. Ather is currently the only EV maker in the country, having filed 13 patents on battery design and manufacturing.

In 280 minutes flat, the individual parts trooping in from outside are positioned, fitted, tested and pushed out as a finished product. “Every four minutes, a vehicle comes out of the assembly line,” an engineer explained.

Software integration is a key feature of Ather’s 450X and 450 Plus range. This is critical to populate the e-scooters’ dashboard that features a GPS-enabled map, battery status, range and more. The interface also helps Ather gather user data to fine-tune the EV’s performance.

“We now have over 25 million kms of road data, collected in the last two years,” informed company CEO and cofounder Tarun Mehta.

The software is preloaded onto the dashboard and fitted to the swing arm before the EV goes into the ‘dyno test’ mode, where acceleration, deceleration, braking and other manoeuvres are tested.?

But the final Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) for the ‘OK Tag’ is not done without an on-road test of about one km.

Founded in 2013 by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumni Tarun and Swapnil Jain, Ather Energy is backed by Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Hero Motocorp and Tiger Global.?

 
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