Interview: CTO Swapnil Jain aims for double delight with upcoming Ather Rizta

Ather Energy co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) - Swapnil Jain, spills the details on the upcoming Ather Rizta family electric scooter ahea
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Athe Rizta Swapnil Jain
The Ather Rizta will be the brand's second offering in the electric two-wheeler segment and the countdown has been begun for the launch of the family e-scooter
Athe Rizta Swapnil Jain
The Ather Rizta will be the brand's second offering in the electric two-wheeler segment and the countdown has been begun for the launch of the family e-scooter

The countdown has begun for the Ather Rizta family electric scooter, which promises to be nothing like the 450. While the latter is a performance-focused e-scooter, the Rizta will cater to a wider audience as the quintessential family offering. Considering about 80 per cent of the scooter segment falls into the latter category, the Rizta will have a big role to play in Ather’s future as the brand’s volume model. So, was it difficult to build the Ather Rizta when compared to the 450? Swapnil Jain, CTO - Ather Energy, spills the details in a conversation with HT Auto as we learn more about the Rizta ahead of its launch on April 6, 2024.

Ather Rizta: Developed in 15-18 months

The Ather Rizta has been built on a completely new platform, albeit with extensive learnings from the 450 series. The company took about 15-18 months to develop the Rizta, reveals Jain, much faster than the 450 range, which has been around for five years in the company’s decade of existence.

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“When we started the 450, we wanted to build the best performance scooter. An exciting, fast two-wheeler," said Swapnil Jain. “That’s how the entire design philosophy if you look at every single component of the 450, that’s how it was designed. Starting from the aluminium chassis, dual disc brake, and position of the motor, everything was designed for a performance-focused market, something that we ourselves would love to ride."

Also Read : Ather is all set to introduce its first family scooter, Rizta: Check details

Ather Rizta
The Ather Rizta will be built on a completely new architecture while sharing its tech with the 450 series. The company says it had to fundamentally rethink of a family scooter and its parameters
Ather Rizta
The Ather Rizta will be built on a completely new architecture while sharing its tech with the 450 series. The company says it had to fundamentally rethink of a family scooter and its parameters

“Over some time, we realised that now we need to innovate multiple platforms. The 450 has been stable and has proven its reliability and as an organisation, we have proven the kind of technology we can build, the kind of cost structures we can build, and our manufacturing capabilities. Essentially, the entire organisation was built on the back of the 450," he added further.

Jain says Ather is now eyeing the family scooter market, the biggest in the scooter space, and wants to create the same thought process which went into the 450. While the 450 was more about performance, the Rizta is designed around three fundamental parameters - convenience, safety and comfort.

“The entire thought process around the Rizta was how we use the engineering strength to now recreate the magic we did with the 450 with the Rizta and around these three fundamental parameters," Jain said, “You will see more features around these three themes and some of them are first in the industry, which have never been offered on any product before. Certain aspects like Ather’s batteries have proven to be the safest. Safety was inherently built into the 450 and has been carried over to the Rizta as well. Additional safety features are being carried over for the Rizta."

Also Read : Ather Rizta teaser shows LED headlamp, TFT screen; completes water wading test

Ather Rizta teaser water wading test
The Ather Rizta was recently shown completing the 400 mm water wading test ahead of launch in a teaser video, a previous teaser showed the battery being tested for durability with a 40 ft. drop
Ather Rizta teaser water wading test
The Ather Rizta was recently shown completing the 400 mm water wading test ahead of launch in a teaser video, a previous teaser showed the battery being tested for durability with a 40 ft. drop

Ather Rizta: We had time but not experience

The development of the Ather Rizta had its own set of challenges, which Jain insists were restricted to the product itself. In comparison, developing the 450 also meant building the foundation pillars for the company. Jain explains this included the systems, tools and processes, which are present today. The time taken to build the 450 was not just for the scooter but to build the backbone of an OEM.

“The focus as an organisation was to build tools, systems, processes and the organisation structure itself, so we can scale it up to build multiple products. This time we only had the problem of product development because of everything else including manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, logistics, and quality, all of that is already in place. We just have to replicate it for another product."

The company also benefitted from over five years and lakhs of electric scooters sold, providing the company with crucial data. This helped Ather to define the product in a better way.

Jain said, “We could use all the data to know exactly about the usage. For example, we knew a lot of family customers were riding the 450 even though it was meant for performance. We could see their usage pattern and really make sense for those customers. This time it was a lot easier than in the past."

Athe Rizta
The Athe Rizta will borrow several components and tech features from the 450 while performance will be optimised for the family buyer
Athe Rizta
The Athe Rizta will borrow several components and tech features from the 450 while performance will be optimised for the family buyer

Ather Rizta: Back to fundamentals

The Ather Rizta will not be anything like the 450 insists the company. Swapnil Jain says the reason for this is because a lot of things had to be fundamentally thought through again. Some of the architectural decisions taken for the 450, were not relevant for the Rizta. At the same time, a lot of tech developed for the 450 had to be carried forward on the new platform. The challenge then was to take the same elements and bring them together to delver the experience of a family vehicle.

Elaborating on the same, the Ather CTO said, “How do you use the building blocks of the 450 and develop a family scooter? We have a very high amount of vertical integration in design. It wasn’t a big challenge for us to redesign a new platform. All the skills we needed were already available under one roof. And thankfully, our engineering team has been very stable."

"The people who designed the first 450 are still around, so that gives us a lot of advantage. They know exactly why a certain decision was taken when designing the 450 and what changes they can make for the Rizta. It’s becoming more evident that a very strong engineering team with vertical integration in design works very well when developing new products."

Jain also insists that Ather will be the first OEM to bring two vehicles and won’t be a one-product company like Ola, Bajaj or TVS. “They have had modifications but nobody has come up with a fundamentally new product altogether."

To be fair, TVS did launch the X performance electric scooter last year, which is completely different from the iQube but the model is yet to begin deliveries.

Also Read : Ather co-founders drop new details on Rizta e-scooter ahead of April 6 debut

2023 Ather 450S
Much like the Ather 450S and 450X, expect the Rizta to come in multiple variants and possibly with different battery pack options upon launch
2023 Ather 450S
Much like the Ather 450S and 450X, expect the Rizta to come in multiple variants and possibly with different battery pack options upon launch

Ather Rizta: Will Exist Alongside The 450X

Rumours have been rife that the 450X will finally bow out making way for the Rizta. However, Swapnil confirmed that both models will be sold alongside each other and will cater to different customers.

“We ideally like to build products which are sharply positioned for one customer’s need. Another customer might absolutely hate it, which is what our product philosophy is all about," revealed Jain.

The Ather Rizta will arrive in multiple variants and could get similar battery size options as the 450X. While Jain remains tight-lipped on the prices, he does say a wider price band should make the model accessible. Moreover, the Rizta and 450 series will come from the same assembly line, which is said to be flexible enough to build multiple products.

First Published Date: 02 Apr 2024, 09:01 AM IST
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