Why the delay – aren’t electrical engineers supposed to face the least resistance?

On Feb. 23, 2016, Tarun Mehta walked on the stage at a tech conference in Bengaluru, spoke for less than five minutes, and walked off. He reappeared quickly, though, wearing a black helmet, riding a black and white scooter. As the rock music toned down, Mehta dismounted, and with half a smile and a wave of the hand introduced his ride, “Guys, S340.”

The moment had been three years in the making, since Mehta and Swapnil Jain quit their jobs in 2013 and set up Ather Energy to try and build a smart electric scooter in India, for India. The S340 has a top speed of 75 kilometres per hour, a touchscreen dashboard that’ll eventually run on Android and sync with smartphones, a battery that charges faster than most mobile phones, and a range of over 65 kilometres. So far, the gamble had paid off. Since 2014, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) graduates managed to convince New York’s Tiger Global and the founders of Flipkart, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, to pour more than $12 million into their untested venture. And after long hours on the drawing board, agonising over aesthetics and engineering, and testing out multiple prototypes, Ather’s first product, the S340, had finally been unveiled.

On stage, Mehta spoke for another eight-odd minutes, describing Ather’s design philosophy, outlining the hardware that powered it and fleshing out the software, which he hoped would offer an edge to the S340 in India’s burgeoning two-wheeler market—the largest in the world. He finished with a promise to let prospective customers try out the scooter at an experience centre in Bengaluru within three months. The company also announced that the S340 would be available by the end of 2016.

Eighteen months on, the S340 is yet to hit Indian roads—and Mehta, the 27-year-old bespectacled CEO of Ather, makes no bones about the epic miscalculation by one of the country’s most exciting electric vehicle startups. {via}

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