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Ratan Tata bets big on electric vehicle company in Coimbatore

Ratan Tata bets big on electric vehicle company in Coimbatore
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Ampere sells electric vehicles — cycles, scooters, trolleys — and special purpose vehicles for the differently-abled.

Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested an undisclosed amount in Ampere, a Coimbatore-based electric vehicle start-up founded by a woman entrepreneur.

Mr. Tata made the investment along with Ampere’s existing investor, Forum Synergies. The start-up, founded by >Hemalatha Annamalai, will use the funds to scale up operations and hire talent over two years.

Ampere is the first automobile start-up investment for Mr. Tata, who conceived Nano, now one of the world’s cheapest cars.

In the last one year, he has invested in a slew of consumer Internet companies such as >Ola, >Snapdeal, Paytm, and >Xiaomi.

Ms. Annamalai, alumna of the Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, used her savings to start the venture in 2008. Ampere sells electric vehicles — cycles, scooters, trolleys — and special purpose vehicles for the differently-abled — in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Start-up boom leading to funds flow

Ampere designs and makes its own chargers, motors and controllers. The company has developed its own method to revive old batteries and offers after-sales service.

“Our vehicles are designed to suit Indian rugged conditions and it was well appreciated by Mr. Tata,” Hemalatha Annamalai, who founded the company, says.

She says her firm focusses on rural areas as farmers use two-wheelers to transport chicken feed, eggs and grains. “These equity investments are a vote of confidence on Ampere’s brand strength, market presence and product design capabilities,” she says.

The firm’s vehicles are part of a waste management project running for the last year and a half in the Kurudampalayam panchayat in Coimbatore.

Two years ago, Ampere received funding from private equity firms Forum Synergies India and Spain’s IMI Investments. As the country witnesses an entrepreneurship boom, Mr. Tata has been among a number of corporate leaders who are backing young companies.

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Printable version | May 27, 2018 10:11:02 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/ratan-tata-bets-big-on-electric-vehicle-company-ampere-in-coimbatore/article7396545.ece