With an increase in awareness on use of electric cars, their benefits in terms of pollution reduction and a push from the government, Mahindra & Mahindra has announced that the brand will develop three to four electric vehicles, that are affordable enough for masses. The company says the electric cars in question would be priced within a range of Rs 8-10 lakh. The Indian auto manufacturer has also said prospects of an electric SUV are also on the cards, which is likely to take some three-four years for development based on Pininfarina's design inputs. Mahindra plans to bring out these affordable electric vehicles into the market also in hope of entering fleets of Ola and Uber, according to a report on PTI.
Culture for electric cars in India is still in its early stages. Mahindra came up with the Reva which was an all electric car for four passengers. It, however, did not sell in large numbers. The design did not appeal to many buyers, however another reason for small sales figures was that India so far lacks electric charging infrastructure.
On this matter, M&M Managing Director Pawan Goenka opined that success of electric cars largely depended on help from the government. India does not have the same kind of subsidies many other countries offer on buying electric vehicles, Goenka pointed out.
He further said that the electric vehicles under development at Mahindra would have to be affordable as pollution can only be curbed if the electric cars are bought by the masses.
"Globally, people are working on electric vehicles that are high performance, high powered and sell at a significant premium over petrol and diesel vehicles. The reason we want to do electric vehicles is to help clean the environment, which also means that these vehicles will have to be affordable for the masses, it cannot be a niche segment," he explained.
"India has about 2,000 dollars for subsidy. There are countries which have 10,000 dollars, therefore we cannot have a very high-end vehicle because nobody will buy it and it does not even serve the purpose. If only 200 people bought it, it won't help much in curbing pollution," he added.
Mahindra is also working on a SUV which would use an all electric powertrain.
Electric vehicles are important, but SUVs are what remain the prime focus of the brand's image, Goenka said, adding the company is planning a Pinifarina SUV which is still three to four years away from development.
Although the government is now taking electric vehicles a bit more seriously, but the real issue with these vehicles still remains to be lack of charging infrastructure. Hence, government support becomes very crucial for their development.