13th January 2020, 13:18
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| | Mahindra re-inventing it's electric mobility strategy
Goenka said that they were looking at the upcoming eKUV with a range of 130 kms as it focuses on the shared mobility space rather than personal commute.
The Shared Mobility Strategy:
MUMBAI: As a recent press conference, Mahindra & Mahindra’s managing director, Pawan Goenka stated that Mahindra Electric was not working immediately on a product which would provide a range of 350-400 kilometers. |
Rather, they were looking at the upcoming eKUV with a range of 130 kms as it focuses on the shared mobility space rather than personal commute.
It was a ‘turning it on its head’ moment wherein Goenka in one statement pre-empted any range related questions where the company has been seen as lacking, compared to competition. This coupled with a few more initiatives in the electric vehicle space will smartly reinvent itself, say experts.
Competition has upped the ante and has been launching electric products in the personal category with a 350 kms plus range on a single charge. Hyundai Kona, Tata Nexon as well as the ZS EV have all attracted eyeballs with their offerings albeit at high price points. It is in this space that Mahindra seemed to be losing out. With the e2o Plus having being already discontinued and its eVerito not really setting the cash registers ringing, the company was seen as playing a catch up game.
The status of pioneers of the electric mobility space in India for over ten years was not helping matters. Coupled with this was the fact that the Government of India’s most ambitious electric vehicle project through EESL which backfired and the tender was scrapped, resulting in a loss of a potential order of over 4000 vehicles for Mahindra.
Meru game plan:
It is here that the company decided to change its strategy. Rather than getting beaten at its own game, it looked at reinventing itself. Gone were the thoughts of owning the leadership tag in the personal vehicle space and enter the shared mobility strategy. It is no secret that Mahindra has been selling its electric vehicles for last mile connectivity as well as to corporates for employee transportation. |
The recent announcement of a 1000 electric vehicles with Lithium is a case in point and the company is looking at various such tie ups pan India. What is interesting is the fact that such associations will hardly require a vehicle with a high range as it can be easily charged overnight.
Goenka also said that their prime focus will be on EVs and the company will be doing things “similar to what other service providers are doing, but with a twist”. He mentioned that there is enough room to accommodate more service providers and new entries in the segment should not be of concern.
In February 2019, Mahindra also forayed into the shared mobility space with the launch of Glyd, a tech-based e-mobility service for select routes in Mumbai. The company also flagged off the first batch of 10 electric Mahindra Veritos under this initiative in February last year.
But perhaps the smartest piece of business the company has done in recent times is acquiring a 55% stake in radio-operated cab service provider, Meru in September last year. Experts says Meru has its niche focus segment and would not compete with the Olas and Ubers of the world. |
What this association would give Mahindra access to is to push its electric vehicle fleet into Meru cabs. Goenka alluded as much that the reason behind buying Meru was that there are a lot of non-believers in electric vehicles as a service and it was upto Mahindra to demonstrate that there is a business model within electric vehicles.
He added that there were two ways to electrify Meru’s fleet. While the first one would be to set up a new business organically, the second one would be to buy a pre-set model and make modifications. The company decided to take up the second model by buying an “interesting” set up and work with them instead. There are indications that it won’t be long before Mahindra EVs are seen on the Meru platform pan India.
Mahindra’s has stepped up focus on electric three wheelers for last mile mobility. E-rickshaws are predominantly sold in North India and are one of the most effective means of last mile connectivity as well as being a cheaper mode of transportation. The battery-powered rickshaw has been replacing cyclic rickshaw with sales, growing at an average rate of 20% annually since 2015. |
Mahindra has sold only 1500 units of their lithium-ion based Treo in FY20 and analysts are quick to add that for a company like Mahindra this is a very small number. Though the company has sold more than 15,000 units of their lead based eAlfa, what could be a cause of worry is that lithium powered batteries will take some time to gain acceptability among users.
However what will give the company solace is the fact that over the next three years, the segment is expected to switch to lithium ion e-rickshaws completely on the back of customer education on issues such as better range and extended warranty. Mahindra is also selling its Treo range both to personal buyers as well as cab aggregators. The company feels that this segment is the future of mobility but in lithium ion and not lead acid.
Mahindra is also bullish on the technology parameter and is keen on providing electric powertrains for third party usage. All this would entail investments and the company has not shied away from it. The company has announced an investment upwards of Rs 1250 crore over the next 3 years. This would include investment at its plant in Chakan, Maharashtra as well as a new R&D centre in Bangalore.
Goenka has emphasised that with the government having done its part, it was time for OEMs to take up the responsibility to boost the EV ecosystem in India. With its changed strategy, this company could be doing just that, say experts.
Source: ET Auto