Mahindra Reva, the country’s only electric car company, is drawing up a game plan to monetise its intellectual property (IP) and transform itself from being a car maker into a solutions provider of electric vehicle technology. Besides licensing the know-how gained from over 15 years of research and development in a niche space, it is eyeing a potential business opportunity of building cost-effective plants for customers globally.
Currently, the company is licensing its technology within the Mahindra Group, which is working on an electric version of its sedan Verito besides evaluating potential for small commercial vehicle models such as Gio and Maxximo.
“The idea was that definitely in the short term, since there is enough opportunity within the group, we will focus on licensing it there. In the longer term, this will go into other companies too,” said Chetan Maini, chief of technology and strategy at Mahindra Reva, a company he founded in 1994 and in which the Mahindra Group bought a controlling stake in 2010.
“The other part of the licensing comes on the manufacturing side where we are looking at the possibility of creating cost-effective green plants globally.”
Maini’s ambitions on the electric car ecosystem rides on the ‘e2o’, the car slated for launch in the next couple of months. The company is relying on the Mahindra Group’s distribution network to chart out a bullish marketing strategy that involves expanding to at least 50 outlets in India in the next one year and also entering global markets.
Though the company has not disclosed sales projections, it hopes to reach the full production capacity of 30,000 units annually at its new plant in Bangalore in the next three years. Globally, there are about 4,500 units of the Reva the company’s first model launched in 2001, on the road as of now.
“We see it as not just the car coming out. Between now and 2020 if there is going to be a game shift in this area, how do we position ourselves correctly to look at all aspects of the value chain,” said Maini. India’s National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month envisages sales of 6-7 million electric vehicles including cars, two-wheelers and buses by the end of the decade, which would require investments of up to R23,500 crore.
Mahindra Reva, whose key research areas include drive technology and lighter materials, has filed about 30 patents relating to energy management and making electric cars more efficient. The company last year signed an memorandum of understanding with the Australian state of Victoria to explore the potential for research, supply chain development, and manufacturing of clean technology vehicles.
“Having created a lot of technologies and integrating them with the car, we, over time, have been enabling ourselves to go into new business areas which starts giving consumer solutions. Are they meaningful today, No. Are they meaningful five years from today? Yes, when you have built up the ecosystem. Definitely we are exploring this,” Maini said.