Maruti Suzuki and Toyota are the only large players to launch hybrid vehicles in the market with one product each. While both the Japanese players have promised to deliver more hybrids in the near future after getting a positive reaction from the market, Tata Motors believes that investing in an intermediate technology like hybrid, will be counterproductive to the overall target of India being carbon neutral by 2070. Shailesh Chandra, president, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, spoke to Fe’s Swaraj Baggonkar. Excerpts:
What will be the penetration level of the EVs in your portfolio?
We were closer to 10% penetration but with the Tiago EV coming in it will be much more. In the next 4-5 year, it should be around 25% while our ambition is to be at 50% by 2030.
What would be the ratio in terms of the number of products in the portfolio?
Possibly the number of products in EV will be higher. Over time, there will be an equal number of products powered by battery and ICE.
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Will you be able to hang on to the number one ranking in Evs?
That will be our attempt. Our introductions are much faster (than competition). There are more Tata EVs on the roads and (thus) there is a greater brand connect. We will have the widest product portfolio. I will have products which have a wide spectrum or prices and body styles.
Do you need a separate sales channel for Evs?
After a certain stage it might make sense when you have a range of products and when the demand for EVs have reached a level where it can independently support a profitable channel process where showrooms can exist on its own. It has merit going forward, having dedicated sales executives. At some stage we might think about that.
EVs have their own experience and explanation.
Has there been any rethink at Tata Motors with regards to your approach for hybrids?
A customer buys a hybrid because of its fuel efficiency and the economics is proving to justify the delta the customer pays.
The comparison is made with the petrol variant and there is a comparison of the value proposition. Diesel also sells on the same proposition. If I am not meeting the CAFÉ norms only then will I consider hybrids.
You mean to say that EVs offer a much better value proposition?
Three years down the line EV will be a much stronger proposition and is a technology that will live in perpetuity. So why not dial up investments there? There is absolutely no need for fresh investment in hybrids. And since it is using electrification for higher fuel efficiency, it should not be compared with EVs. It should be compared with diesels.
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The industry is lobbying for tax cuts on hybrids. Your comment
The government cannot be subsidising everything.
The target of 2070 is not going to happen on its own.
The more you subsidise a technology that is intermediate you will delay the eventual technology adoption.
The time you start giving a slight support to an intermediate technology all OEMs will shift to that and customers will adopt what is offered.
Is the manpower at auto companies being stretched thin?
There are too many things we are dealing with such as phase 2 of BS-VI and E20 implementation. The only thing for us is to see how fast we are able to meet that timeline. It is about the resource and bandwidth within the organisation and not just us but testing agencies also; whether they have the capacity to do so many things.