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NEW DELHI :  

Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, on Thursday unveiled its first electric truck, the Tata Ace EV, a spin on its largest selling truck, Tata Ace. The vehicle will come with a certified range of 154 km and has a modular platform, which can adapt to a wide variety of intra-city applications.

Tata Motors has optimized its offering for a host of e-commerce businesses such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Bigbasket, which have “closed-loop" use of trucks, which travel a specified distance and return, and are, therefore, amenable to electric vehicles.

Tata Motors will also leverage Tata Power’s strengths and work with logistics service providers to install charging stations at specific e-commerce fulfilment centres.

The automaker has signed memoranda of understanding with these e-commerce players to deliver 39,000 trucks starting next quarter in Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi. The company did not give a delivery timeline, citing production constraints because of the shortage of semiconductor chips.

The Tata ACE EV, a small commercial vehicle, will be eligible for subsidies under the government’s FAME-II scheme and fleet operators deploying the trucks will also be able to benefit from incentives provided by various state governments.

The automaker said it has also received interest in electric options of its medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs), but did not clarify how soon a product could be introduced. In any case, all its EV solutions will be custom-designed for each application.

“Even in M&HCVs there are some applications which are closed-loop, lower-range movements. For example, players in the cement and steel industries are interested in moving towards electrification to fulfil their own net-zero emission goals. So, there is good interest even in that segment, but of course, the kind of technology that we use is going to be different," said Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors.

“However, in commercial vehicles, the transition to electrification will happen through natural gas, for example, and therefore the alternative will remain more relevant in larger trucks. However, there are customers who are talking to us about some of these applications. We will work with them the way we did with our e-commerce customers," Wagh said.

Tata Motors is already a leader in the electric vehicle segment for passenger cars with more than 80% share of the market and is planning a similar, fast-paced introduction of electric solutions in commercial vehicles as well.

“As we gradually increase the spread of electrification in our portfolio, the percentage of capex spend that will go towards electric vehicles will go on increasing. Today, it is still taking care of IC engine diesel and natural gas vehicles because next year we have to transition to the second phase of BS-VI emissions norms, so that is a big transition of the entire product range currently under way. However, once that’s done, gradually year over year, you will see more and more capital expenditure going towards electric and also alternative fuels such as CNG," Wagh said.

Even as Tata Motors starts working on delivering on the demand it has been able to aggregate, supply chain disruptions due to a shortage of semiconductor chips might keep capacities constrained. “We are first going to work on the supply chain side to see how fast we can deliver on these orders," Wagh said.

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