India's Tata Group, a steel-to-autos conglomerate, is making its biggest push yet towards clean vehicles with plans to make electric cars and batteries, set up charging stations and build a battery recycling plant, senior executives said on Tuesday.
More than half a dozen companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals, Tata Power and Tata Croma, a chain of stores selling consumer electronics, are pooling resources and expertise to build an electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, the executives told reporters in Mumbai.
The plans were announced ahead of the launch of Tata Motors' electric sport-utility vehicle (SUV) Nexon EV, which was attended by N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, the automaker's parent group, and family patriarch Ratan Tata.
"This is the launch of an ecosystem, which is the real need, not just another vehicle launch," Guenter Butschek, managing director at Tata Motors, which also owns the British luxury car brand Jaguar Land Rover, said.
India, in an effort to curb high pollution in several cities and to bring down its fuel import bill, is encouraging automakers to build EVs.
But it has faced resistance from some carmakers that say the charging infrastructure needs to be set up first and that battery costs are too high to build affordable EVs for the Indian market.
Tata Power, which has already set up 100 charging stations, will add another 650 in more than 20 major Indian cities over the next one year, the company's CEO Praveer Sinha said.
All stations will support fast charging and will be linked to a mobile application, which has been developed with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), for payments and to check the availability of chargers, Sinha said.