Following Hero MotoCorp, TVS, and Ola Electric, electric vehicle (EV) startup Ather Power is the most recent manufacturer to announce a refund for customers who paid extra for the charger of their newly acquired vehicle. In the next two months, Ather Power will offer reimbursements to customers who purchased an Ather electric scooter and had to pay extra for a recharge. However, this process may take some time, as carandbike understands that various customers paid different prices for their vehicle’s charger.

Ather Energy charged customers up to Rs 20,000 additional for the charger that was sold alongside the scooter.

“While there is no legal requirement to integrate chargers, following discussions with MHI and in the interest of the EV ecosystem as a whole, we have recently made the change to bundle the charger with the vehicle. In order to be fair to consumers who purchased the vehicle prior to this change, we have decided to refund the invoiced amount of the fees for automobiles purchased prior to April 12, 2023. In the coming weeks, we will send an email to customers who qualify for this refund, according to a statement released by Ather Strength.

Ather Electricity is one of four manufacturers under investigation by the Ministry of Important Industries (MHI) for allegedly exploiting a lacuna to meet the FAME-II scheme’s price limit and subsidies. In total, Ather Electricity is now obligated to pay up to Rs 140 crore as part of the reimbursement procedure. The startup has also been asked to refund approximately Rs 25 crore to the MHI, as it added to the price of its flagship scooter by including a proprietary software upgrade. Until recently, the Ather 450X’s price tag incorporated a ‘performance enhancement’ over and above the ex-showroom price of the scooter, which added Rs 21,510 to the final bill, after which the FAME-II subsidy amount (Rs 55,500) was subtracted.

Whistleblower emails to the ministry of large industries named Ather Vitality, Hero MotoCorp, Ola Electric, and TVS Motor Company, with the whistleblower noting that until recently, all four brands excluded the portable charger to be sold with the scooter from the vehicle’s ex-showroom price. Manufacturers resorted to this in order to satisfy the Rs 1.5 lakh ex-manufacturing unit selling price limit; otherwise, they would not qualify for FAME-II subsidies. A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Heavy Industries issued a notice to all four manufacturers on the matter, and the manufacturers have since moved to reimburse customers.

The price of the Ather 450X now begins at Rs 1.15 lakh, which includes the cost of the charger.

With this controversy lingering large, Ather has recently reorganised its product line and reduced prices. The 450X e-scooter is now available for a starting price of Rs 1.15 lakh (ex-showroom, Bengaluru, including FAME-II subsidy). There is no longer a base 450 Plus variant; as an alternative, there is only the 450X. It can be experienced in standard form or with the ‘Pro Pack’ option, which adds Rs 30,364 to the price, bringing the scooter’s price to Rs 1.45 lakh for the fully-equipped model. These prices are approximately Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 less than the previous prices for Ather’s scooters.

As a result of a reduced-capacity charger, the entry-level 450X’s gradual charging time is now around 15 hours.

A charger is included in the ex-store price of the Ather 450X, but to keep prices in control, Ather has discontinued the 450 Plus and is now offering a decontented, entry-level version of the 450X with a charger that has a significantly lower capacity. Charge times for the base 450X with a reduced-capacity charger increase to 12 hours and 15 minutes (to 80 percent) and 15 hours and 20 minutes for a complete charge. Comparatively, the 450X Pro Pack can meet an 80 percent demand in 4 hours and 30 minutes and a full demand in 5 hours and 40 minutes. More critically, however, the base 450X cannot be charged at Ather’s quick-charging station network, the Ather Grid.

Other brands under scrutiny have already implemented programmes to compensate their existing customers. Ola Electric confirmed it will refund the cost of the charger to buyers of the S1 e-scooter, while Hero MotoCorp and TVS will do the same for consumers of the Vida V1 and iQube e-scooters, respectively.