So one day after the event in Delhi, why do we see such negative reactions everywhere?
Ather's Subscription Plans
It all boils down to this slide right here. So Ather wants you to pay almost a Lakh Rupees upfront. Then you see those amounts on the right - Those are monthly amounts that you need to pay to lock or unlock features on your 450X. Ather calls them ‘Power packs’ - which you can upgrade or downgrade whenever you feel like.
Ather are not calling them variants as Tarun said they do not want to sound like a traditional Auto company. And i agree technically they are not variants. But, we will talk about this later.
Let’s get back to the pricing shall we -
So Ather wants you to pay Rs 2000 per month for the Pro ‘Power Pack’.
Now this, per month subscription fee is what is causing all the heartburn among the EV community.
You will have to keep paying these monthly payments to Ather irrespective of the number of years you own the vehicle - be it 3, 5, 8 or even 10 years. Although you have an option to opt out after the 4th year - If you opt out u will have to manage with an old battery and ageing performance.
If you continue with these power packs, Ather apparently will guarantee Range, Performance, User Experience - Essentially ensuring the user need not worry about battery degradation, top speed etc even as your vehicle ages.
My question is - How will Ather guarantee range and performance after, say 5 years.
Ather cannot cheat Physics and Chemistry - Batteries do degrade especially the
high Nickel NMC batteries they are using in their scooters.
Will Ather replace a battery if customers say -
“Hey Ather! I’m not getting the 85 km true range and i’m on your Pro Power Pack!
I’m getting 65 km true range now and I’m pissed as I have paid you Rs 1,20,000 over a period of 5 years and i want my range back!”
So will Ather replace the battery pack whenever customers starts complaining?
What if thousands of customers of the 450X demand the same.
Ather are gambling on the fact that battery prices will come down so they can offer battery replacements and use the money they earned from the subscription fees?
I’m not sure about how this pan out guys...It can all go wrong for Ather here.
What am sure about is that - people don’t want to pay now for something that might or might not want to change, 5-7 years later.
And the fact that Ather in enforcing these payments from Day 1 is causing a huge uproar among the EV community.
Anyway I want to get back to these power packs which I spoke about earlier.
I have a major issue with the way Ather are doing this.
Say, if you get “Plus” power pack, what is going to happen is they software lock-out the extra features on the 450X . You need to pay more to unlock them. Then you become a “Pro” user.
It’s like purchasing different plans of Netflix. More you pay more features you get.
But Netflix the expenses are in the streaming of data in HD and across multiple devices.
So the premium prices are justified. But for Ather everything happens locally on the bike hardware itself.
Why do you need to unlock features by paying when they don’t cost Ather anything?
Also wouldn't it have been wiser to create variants? That way Ather need not pack a larger motor, a bigger battery pack for “Plus” users. A “Plus” user is essentially lugging around hardware he may never use. Am pretty sure 99% of people who can afford the 450X will go for the “Pro” power pack. Again defeating the purpose of these Power Packs.
Also I would encourage you guys to read an interview done by Tesla Club of India, where they spoke to Ravneet, Chief Business Officer & Arun, Product Head at Ather.
What caught my attention was this.
Arun- Our primary target here is not people who are doing long term ownership.
Ravneet- See you know, the reality is that there are different categories in market with different needs. We will not be for TCO. We will be good at TCO, TCO works out if you do the math, but honestly that’s not the reason we exist.
I’m sorry Mr Arun and Mr Ravneet are throwing a bunch of marketing fluff here and sounding very corporatish.
The point of an electric vehicle is the low cost of ownership and with the 450X that is not the case. You can make a compelling EV but still have that edge over pollution scooters with the low running costs.
So, I pre-booked the 450X, but i will have to opt out - not because I don't want an Ather, i do.
You see I’m an EV advocate, I want to show people that even you too can get an electric and be the change. With the 450X, when I speak to people, the scope for convincing them is very less once you start talking pricing, subscriptions etc.
I wished Ather did a Steve Jobs type “One more thing” and then they revealed an Ather 250C a more affordable and compelling product.
But that did not happen.
It all depends on what type of company Ather wants to be. Would they want to be like an Apple, where their products will be used and loved by a small community or they would want to create a revolution and be instrumental in getting these awful noisy pollution scooters off our roads.
You know what the sad part here is?
Nobody is talking about all the great features of the 450X.
- The fact that they have improved the cells on battery
- They have reduced the weight of the scooter
- They have moved to Android system on the dash
- They improved the fast charger
This clearly shows how price sensitive India is and how the marketing team goofed up here.
I hope Ather is watching/reading this, listens to the EV community and makes some changes.
So Ather 450X, What do you think about Ather’s Xtreme pricing and these power packs?
Are you going through with your booking? Or are you cancelling your booking and going for the Bajaj Chetak or TVS iQube or the Revolt RV400?
Are you okay with these monthly payments. Or you hate them!
Do let us know.