Mahindra and Mahindra claims to be the first and only Indian automobile firm that is looking at building an all-electric vehicle portfolio, as India tries to reduce emission and pollution.
“We are working on that,” said Pawan Goenka, executive director of M&M. The firm is betting on electric, self-drive, and ride share, what it calls the “future of mobility”.
Many in M&M say though the cost to acquire an electric vehicle is high, over time, its maintenance gets cheaper, which will eventually boost its adoption.
“Mahindra is looking to make some of its mainstream vehicles electric,” said Goenka. Scorpio, its SUV, might soon have an all-electric variant. The company that sold 2,300 electric vehicles last year didn’t disclose the details of its electric portfolio, sales targets and investment.
“We will focus on the mass market … we are betting on electric vehicles, and not hybrids,” said Goenka.
The company has completed its entry-level car portfolio with Reva models (the last one launched on Friday). It is yet to decide whether it should launch mid- or high-end cars.
Meanwhile, M&M will build a premium Pininfarina (Italian car design firm and coachbuilder that M&M acquired) brand vehicle. Goenka said the vehicle will “also be all-electric”.
However, high cost is the biggest roadblock for electric vehicles in India even though the government announced incentives and an investment of Rs 14,000 crore under the Electric Mobility Mission plan.
The battery remains the most expensive part even though its prices have come down by more than a half in the last year. “As a group, we will see how we can make this technology affordable,” said Pravin Shah, president and chief executive (automotive) at M&M.
Goenka said M&M would not make low-cost batteries, but would work on battery technology that will “optimise its use”. “We want to be the company that brings electric vehicles to India,” he said.
While in the past, people have questioned the performance of an electric SUV, Shah said the 80 kilowatt pack that M&M uses was powerful enough.
Some of the other countries such as China are also betting on electric vehicles, and not hybrid. England, too, has de-incentivised hybrids. According to various reports, by 2020, electric vehicles will constitute a quarter of global car sales.