Tata Motors will use the strength of group companies to fuel its foray into electric vehicles (EVs). It has tied up with Tata Power to install charging stations and will us the group’s retail arm chain, Croma, to digitally showcase the vehicles.
“We are proud that the group’s entities are diversified and have expertise in varied segments. We are leveraging the strength to make EVs more popular,” said Shailesh Chandra, president of the electric mobility business and corporate strategy, Tata Motors. “We plan to set up 300 fast-charging stations by the end of this financial year, of which we have already installed 50.”
The group’s automotive component manufacturing arm, Tata AutoComp Systems, has signed a joint venture (JV) with Chinese company Guoxuan High-Tech to manufacture battery packs for electric cars. The JV company has started a prototype manufacturing operation in Pune. It has also formed a partnership with Australian company Tritium to manufacture DC fast-chargers for EVs.
According to Chandra, the idea of displaying the car at Croma stores is due to the type of people who come there. “We are trying to appeal to tech-geek customers. If somebody is going to buy an Apple product, he/she could be thinking electric,” he reasoned.
In his address to shareholders at Tata Motors’ AGM earlier this week, Chairman N Chandrasekaran said the company had “recalibrated its ambitions higher” in the EV space, after the announcements by the government to boost dem-and. As part of the plan, it is looking to launch multiple EV models.
On Thursday, the company unveiled the Nexon EV, its first electric SUV for personal buyers. It uses the company’s new EV technology platform, Ziptron. The SUV, claimed Chandra, will be able to bridge the massive price difference between an EV and one powered by the conventional internal combustion engine, a big barrier for EVs. Executives said until there is an EV priced below Rs 10 lakh, it is impossible to make these popular in the personal vehicle segment. Maruti has selected its Wagon R model to launch its first EV.
Chandra said the latter market is huge as compared to the fleet segment. “The fleet segment is just 10 per cent of the total passenger car market; 90 per cent is the personal segment. Vehicle electrification cannot be driven by not addressing the 90 per cent pie. You have to address that,” he said.
If enty-level segment vehicles are transformed to electric ones, he thinks, the price difference might be too high, and repel customers. “That’s why we choose a model where the price difference will not be more than 20-25 per cent. This, along with the superior performance of the car, will make it popular.”