In conversation with Arun Vinayak, Chief Product Officer for Ather S340 electric scooter.
Unveiled back in February this year, Ather S340 electric scooter will soon be launched in India. We speak with Ather Energy’s CPO, Mr Arun Vinayak about the thought process/approach behind designing the S340, by far the most advanced two-wheeler to be launched in India.
What was the thought process/approach behind designing the S340? What did you want to achieve?
The S340 is built on a clean design philosophy we follow at Ather. While zero emissions is an obvious product of being electric, from an engineering perspective it is important to optimize component level design.
The clean design philosophy helps in achieving substantial weight reduction by design multifunctional lightweight structures, keeping mechanical parts to a minimum reducing wear and tear, eliminating need for lubrication which keeps serviceability easier and clean as well. Overall it leads to a lighter and efficient vehicle that offers a better ride experience.
Therefore, the result is a zero compromise vehicle in terms of performance with an advantage of better space utilization and an ergonomic suited for urban commute.
On the weight front our major objectives were to get the basics right like:
– To reduce weight (20%)
– Lower weight – the center of gravity (10%)
– Centralize weight – zero lateral offset and increased forward weight
– Reduce unsprung mass (wheels and other suspension parts) provides a smoother ride comfort.
To keep up with our clean design philosophy we’ve made some decisions like:
-All LED lights (90% lower energy consumption)
-Belt drive as against chain. Zero lubrication and 60% lighter.
-Plastic body works over metal
We had a blank page to start with and we built this vehicle for ourselves.
From a design perspective, what are the differentiating factors in the S340?
From a design perspective a lot of inspiration has been derived from bikes especially with the ?whole rear monoshock suspension set up, exposed rear wheel, exposed frame to name a few, and an aluminium swing arm.
Ather S340 boasts of a more aggressive stance (forward leaning) which is also reflected in the weight distribution of the vehicle of (49% front and 51% rear). This is quite contrasting to the general laid back stance of scooters (30% front and 70% rear)
It also comes with auto-LED lights (Headlamp, indicators and tail lamps) which is quite unique for two wheelers and not just scooters, touch screen dashboard, onboard diagnostics.
How does Ather justify optimum use of materials in the S340
We’ve never attempted to use exotic material. All the material that goes in is industry standard.
However, a lot of effort goes into better design and integration of different components. Our chassis is very unconventional. We do a lot of functional interplay with functional parts like the battery pack and the transmission housing which also acts as the chassis. Things like this helps us reduce material utilisation. Starting from a blank page and not an existing platform helped us achieve this.
What are the obsessive & meticulous detailing that has gone into the making of the scooter???
There’s a lot of detailing that’s gone into all parts, even those that are not visible externally. It’s an inside out approach. ?One of my favourite components is the side stand. It truly demonstrates the love for finer details. All our engineers are obsessive about not adding anything unnecessary. I remember engineers spending days to save 50 grams on certain components. It’s important because if unchecked soon it all adds up across the vehicle to a larger number. Storage space was another paramater that the team has obsessively protected across the development lifecycle.
Can you explain the approach taken to design the battery pack?
The battery pack is placed on the floor board to lower CG (center of gravity) and keep weight as central as possible. It’s a pressure die cast box which stores all the cells and the BMS (Battery management system) and associated protective systems. For thermal reasons we used aluminium, and at the same time it works as a structural member, by increasing the rigidity of the chassis. This helps us lower the weight of the chassis. Structurally robust and intelligently designed, The battery pack is IP67-rated and offers an uncompromised ride for 50,000 kms and can be immersed under 1 meter water and remain functional.
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