Mahindra to expand electric vehicle line-up
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Mumbai: Mahindra Electric, the electric vehicle making arm of Mahindra Group, will focus on mass urban mobility solutions, said a top executive. The firm is planning to introduce an electric three-wheeler in the next two months and a 32-seater bus within 18 months, said Pawan Goenka, managing director, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.
India’s electric mobility mission envisages to put 6 million electric vehicles on roads by 2020 and aims to make the country an all-electric vehicle market by 2030. So far, electric vehicle sales haven’t found many takers in the absence of incentives, infrastructure and (till now) a policy framework. In fiscal 2015-16, only 22,000 EVs were sold in India, of which approximately 2,000 were cars and the rest two-wheelers.
Mahindra, currently the only electric passenger vehicle maker, sees the recent policy push as an opportunity to capitalize on its first mover advantage. Not only is the firm ramping up capacity, but it is also improving existing technology, said Goenka.
The maker of Scorpio and XUV 500 SUVs, entered the electric vehicle market with the acquisition of Reva Electric Car Co. Ltd in 2010, and currently sells a range of electric vehicles including the E2O hatchback and Verito sedan and a few small commercial vehicles in the load and passenger carrier segment.
The company is boosting capacity at its Bengaluru facility to make battery packs from 500 per month to 800 to 1,000 per month in the next two to three months. It has also set up a new unit for the same at its factory in Chakan near Pune. The two facilities can assemble 5,000 battery packs per month.
Similarly, the company is also scaling up investments towards developing next-generation electric vehicle technologies and products that will address public transport needs, said Goenka.
It is also working with Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to increase range of the existing low volt batteries. Besides, it’s looking to reduce cost of manufacturing of such vehicles by as much as 20% by localizing parts and aggregates such as controllers, electric motors, etc. It’s also looking to cut the cost of battery, which accounts for two- thirds of total costs to a third, he said.
While the focus is on urban mass transport, Mahindra is also working on working on high end premium cars along with Pininfarina—the Italian design house it acquired couple of years ago, and its Korean subsidiary Ssangyong, that can compete with Tesla Motor. These will primarily be for markets outside India, said Goenka.
“The recent policy push on electric vehicles is a big opportunity for a company like Mahindra, which has been dabbling in such vehicles, for sometime now,” said Puneet Gupta, associate vice president at IHS Markit, a market research and sales forecast firm. Mahindra’s strategy to first target the commercial segment such as the fleet operators and aggregaters, augurs well and is in line with the government’s policy of popularizing such vehicles in the mass transport segment, he said.
Goenka also said that he has never been so confident of the future of electric vehicles in India given the amount of “focus, emphasis, thrust coming in from government of India and from the stakeholders including fleet operators and taxi aggregators.”
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to put an electric vehicle policy in place by the end of this year, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said last week. It has been offering subsidies on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs29,000 for bikes and Rs1.38 lakh for cars under FAME India Scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India), but the plan is to make such vehicles economically viable on their own.