Homegrown carmaker Tata Motors is shifting its focus for electric cars from niche segments such as corporate fleets and taxis to personal segment as it plans to address key barriers such as range anxiety, safety, durability and others that kept buyers away from adopting electric vehicles (EVs).
Speaking to media on Thursday Shailesh Chandra, president – electric mobility business and corporate strategy, Tata Motors Ltd said, “If you just focus on fleet there is a danger that the personal car users would start associating an electric car as a taxi. That would be very bad for the adoption of electric vehicles."
Adding further Chandra said, “The fleet segment is just 10% of the total passenger car market while 90% is the personal segment. Vehicle electrification cannot be driven by not addressing the 90% pie. You have to address that."
Tata Motors on Thursday announced the development of an all-new modular powertrain platform called Ziptron that will power its electric cars for personal segment in the future. The company said that the new platform comprises a permanent magnet AC motor connected with a dust and water proof lithium ion battery system, the two most critical components of any electric vehicle powertrain.
Chandra said that the modular powertrain platform will be capable of providing long running range of up to 250 kms per charge along with the fast charging capability.
“We plan to offer a warranty of 8 years on both, the electric motor as well as the battery," Chandra said clarifying that Ziptron will power models for the personal segment only.
The senior company official had in the recent past told Mint that a 220-250km running range will overcome the range anxiety amongst the potential EV buyers in India. “If you give anything above that, it will not help in terms optimizing the whole equation," he had said referring to the performance and cost parameters.
Tata Motor’s modular EV powertrain platform may feature different combinations of the electric motors and the battery systems depending upon the model requirements and its sub-segment positioning. Chandra said that the components and the platform selected are world class and they clear all the fundamental barriers that include running range, power, durability, safety and lack of charging infrastructure for EVs.
“Most of the electric cars that were available in the personal segment in the past did not address these barriers. The 90% pie in the passenger car market needs to be addressed with the right attributes and I clearly see a market for this," he said.
Speaking on accelerating EV adoption in India, Guenter Butschek, MD & CEO, Tata Motors said, “The government has done very well with what the phased manufacturing program (PMP) under Fame 2 scheme along with GST cut to 5% (for EVs) provides us. It addresses the major elements in one go and it is by far an inclusive package the government has generously provided the automotive industry. The beneficiaries of these initiatives will be all of us."
The second phase of government’s faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles (or Fame 2) involves an outlay of Rs10,000 crore over FY2019-20, 21 and FY22. That includes incentives for electric buses, three- and four-wheelers to be used for commercial applications along with funds sanctioned for setting up EV charging stations.
Butschek said government’s PMP under Fame 2 will bring a lot of localization of EV components, which will have a positive cost impact.
Stressing on the adoption of electric cars in the personal segment, Butschek said that the sales pitch of EVs in the future will be based on the customer needs and used cases. “We have to make sure that we don’t fall in the global trap. We actually need to get what really matters," he warned referring to carmakers selling expensive global products in India.
“Why should we carry an extensive battery pack that can theoretically give you 450km of range if you need only 150km," Butschek said questioning the unaffordability of such an electric car.
In July earlier this year, Hyundai Motor India Ltd had launched its electric sports utility vehicle Kona Electric with a price tag of more than Rs25 lakh (without GST concessions). Hyundai claims that Kona Electric’s 39kWh lithium-ion polymer battery can provide a running range of upto 450 kms per charge in standard conditions.
“EVs have the opportunity to become the mainstream and we are working on it," he said.