At a time when the nation is struggling to come to grips with ever rising air pollution, vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra is engaged in a play to popularise its range of electric vehicles in public transport.
At present there is demand for in shared vehicles and corporate transportation, and even taxi aggregators, the company’s executive director, Pawan Goenka, told HT.
Lithium Urban Technologies, which owns a fleet of electric cars, purchased 200 vehicles from Mahindra. “They will use them for commute of executives, and so far these vehicles have clocked 1.2 million kms,” Goenka said.
“The business model is proven and we are looking at similar associations with other companies,” he said.
Goenka did not name other cab aggregators that are interested to have a fleet of electric vehicles, but he said that there is “high interest of the eVerito sedan in Delhi and Pune.” Any deal is yet to happen.
Breakthroughs in technology have made batteries lighter, cheaper and more energy efficient.
Mahindra is also in talks with Ola, the country’s largest taxi platform. “We will have soon have electric cars from Mahindra as cabs on our platform, also for ride-share,” an Ola spokesperson said.
Online grocer BigBasket has bought 50 eSupros vans to deliver its orders. The company might soon order more vans for all its locations across 13 cities where it operates.
According to Mahindra, maintaining and running an electric vehicle costs 80 paisa, while a gasoline vehicle costs over Rs 2. In five years, Goenka said, a buyer will save enough to buy another electric car.
Asked about lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles in the country, Goenka said: “Infrastructure (shortage) is overstated. Buy an electric vehicle, and use it and call me if there is a problem.”
The volumes of electric are low, so far – 2,300 units in 2015-16. “We are not deterred by lack of volumes… We have a product plan. As an evangelist, a company of our size, spending Rs 300-400 crore is okay,” Goenka said.
THE FOREIGN HAND
Mahindra is also building a luxury electric car, which will compete with Tesla Model S, under the Pininfarina (the Italian car design firm) brand.
“The good thing is that we always get compared with Tesla, so that’s nice… With Pininfarina, we are looking at a possibility of also an all-electric vehicle,” Goenka said.
However, so far Mahindra and Tesla are looking at different segments – Tesla is focusing on high-end personal usage. “We are focusing on commercial as well as personal use. Our approach is to make electric mass market,” Goenka said.