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Tesla’s Former India Policy Chief Said to Join Ather Energy as Vice President

Tesla’s former India policy chief is joining homegrown electric scooter startup Ather, one of the best-funded fledgling firms in a sector attracting record investment.

Manuj Khurana, who quit his post as Tesla’s local head of policy and business development in June, will start next week at the firm based in the southern technology hub of Bangalore, a person with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News. Khurana will join as a vice president, though his specific role there is unclear, the person said, declining to be named as the matter is not public.

Ather, which competes with local rivals including Ola Electric, this year raised $128 million (roughly Rs. 1,050 crore) from investors including Hero Moto, and India’s National Investment & Infrastructure Fund. It’s one of several players vying for a slice of a market expected to surpass $150 billion (roughly Rs. 12,33,900 crore) by the end of the decade — roughly 400 times its current size.

Representatives for the startup didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Indian consumers are expected to gravitate toward electric vehicles as the nation combats some of the world’s worst pollution. Venture capital and private equity funding in Indian electric mobility firms is on track to exceed $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,225 crore) for the first time in 2022 as sales rise steadily, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Khurana had joined Tesla in March 2021. The US electric automaker, run by billionaire Elon Musk, has faced a raft of challenges in India over import taxes and a local factory. It’s sought lower levies in India so it can test the market by selling cheaper imported electric vehicles before committing to a manufacturing base of its own.

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