Ratan Tata invests in electric vehicle maker Ampere

Ratan TataRatan Tata, the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, who looks set to acquire the status of a serial investor in technology start-ups, has now invested an undisclosed amount in Ampere Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a Coimbatore-based electric vehicle start-up.

This is the ninth technology investment by Tata since he retired as executive chairman of Tata Sons in 2012. Ampere is also Tata's first investment in an automobile start-up.

Tata has put money in Ola, the country's largest cab aggregator. He has also backed Paytm parent One97 Communications, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and CarDekho besides investing in Chinese handset maker Xiaomi.

Other ventures in Tata's portfolio include US-based airborne wind turbine developer Altaeros Energies and Grameen Capital, which is a micro financier.

He also invested in Kaaryah Lifestyle Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates an e-commerce site selling women's fashion wear besides offering its products through third party e-tailers.

Ampere's existing investor Forum Synergies has also put money in this round, The Hindu newspaper reported.

Ampere, the brainchild of Hemlatha Annamalai, a computer software engineer from Government College of Technology (Coimbatore) and an MBA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia) makes electric vehicles under brand names such as Angel, Bobo, Prince and V60 and special purpose vehicles for the differently-abled.

She pooled in personal savings of around Rs10 crore to kick-start the venture in 2008.

Ampere sells its products mainly in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The firm plans to use the money to scale up operations and expand its talent pool.

It had earlier raised about Rs20 crore from local investor Forum Synergies and Spain's Axon Capital.

"After two years of struggle, this definitely is something to cheer about, but then, we have a long way to go," the Hindu Business Line quoted Annamalai as saying.

Annamalai was selected for the CII Regional Emerging Entrepreneur Award earlier this year.
 
Meanwhile, sales of electric vehicles in the country are yet to pick up. In fact sales have declined by nearly a fifth to around 16,000 units in the year ended 31 March 2015 compared to the previous year.