When the government first announced that they intended to shift the paradigm of the entire automobile industry from gas to electric by 2030, it seemed like just another directive that would go unmet. As of yesterday, Tata Motors rolled out their first batch of all-electric Tigors out of its Sanand plant in Gujarat, set to make their way to several government agencies across the country via a 10,000 car tender with EESL. Also sharing 30% of the tender is Mahindra who will be delivering electric versions of their Verito sedan for the same purpose. So why has the government suddenly tendered for 10,000 electric cars? It all comes back to the 2030 directive, for which they had set a date but to spur the paradigm shift of this magnitude, one needs government intervention along with big corporates. Why? Well consumers are just not ready to buy electric cars as of yet, because there is no charging infrastructure. And without charging infrastructure and demands, there would be no reason for manufacturers to risk the shift. And so on and forth in a loop that might find no end.
In that light most cars used by government agencies have vehicles that work on a hub and spoke model. The cars leave a garage or central hub in the morning, go fetch their corresponding babu, go about their daily chores and in the evening make it back to the same hub with multiple other vehicles. In this case, setting up charging infrastructure is a feasible cost. Something that your average consumer can not afford. Okay so now the government has electric cars and get to be the poster boys for the green revolution, what point does that make for your average vanilla consumer? The answer to that is, nothing immediately but in a sort of profound way it does spark the metaphoric fire. 10,000 is the magic number here, it's enough for a company like Tata that up until then not really showcased any firm electric plans to start manufacturing a one of kind product. Or in the words of Tata Motors MD and CEO Guenter Butschek, “With Tigor EV, we have begun our journey in boosting e-mobility and offering a full range of electric vehicles to the Indian customers. This tender has effectively paved way for connecting our aspirations in the e-mobility space with the vision of the Government.’ Ie, this is the government's way of nudging the industry to meet its directives by creating a market that was not present before. The Tigor EV electric will spawn an electric Tiago since they share platforms the transition should be affordable considering the R&D is mostly taken care of (courtesy the guaranteed profits from selling large lots of cars to the government at almost sticker price). The same goes for the Verito will spawn the KUV100 electric and the XUV500 Aero, which have been in the pipeline for a while now.
To sum up, when all the dust is cleared and the traffic is silent, we might have forgotten the EESL and their tender, but the two cars that will have spawned the generation of electric will be the Tata Tigor and the Mahindra Verito. The fact that they are both Indian companies with just makes it better.