New Delhi: Automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) on Thursday said India’s electric vehicles dream is not far from realisation but it needs steps like priority financing and duty reduction on certain parts to push e-mobility in the country.

The company, which sells various electric models like e-Verito and e2O, said that with more manufacturers like Tata, Hyundai, MG Motors and Maruti Suzuki coming in the segment, there will be more acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs).

While stating that the government has done its bit to help e-mobility, the company said it was time for manufacturers to work towards reducing EV prices in order to make it viable for personal usage even as new business models in the shared mobility space proving it to be a sound proposition.

“Government has done what needs to be done… Electric vehicle dream is now not very far and with many players coming in, Tatas have announced their vehicles, Hyundai have launched their Kona, MG has announced their EV and Maruti has talked about its EV as well, with that we will see more and more EVs coming in,” Mahindra & Mahindra Managing Director Pawan Goenka told reporters here.

This certainly will make it more acceptable when we see many more products on the road for public to start using EVs, he added.

Goenka further said it was now up to the companies to take it forward in order to make e-mobility affordable.

“OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) need to reduce prices of electric vehicles by 8-10 per cent. We are working on it. Reduced prices would help in better offtake of such vehicles,” Goenka said.

Commenting specifically on Mahindra, he said the company would like to reduce the price of e-Verito to around Rs 11 lakh from Rs 12 lakh currently.

“To achieve that, we are focussing on localisation and also with cell prices going down, it should help. Right now, there is 5 per cent duty on import of cells, if that can be reduced then there can be a reduction of at least Rs 20,000 in vehicle price,” he said.

Highlighting the current challenges faced by the EV sector, he said that one of the major hurdles is in financing as banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are reluctant to give loans as they are not sure about the resale value of EVs.

“At present, interest on loans for electric three-wheelers are 5-6 per cent higher than those of diesel or CNG vehicles. If we can have priority financing for EVs at a lower rate, it will help accelerate growth of the segment,” Goenka said adding that electricity charges at a lower slab for charging would also help.

Outlining Mahindra’s strategy in the electric segment, he said the company would be focussed on shared mobility space over the next few years.

“Our focus is on shared mobility and is in tune with the government policy. the company is working with state government, fleet operators to make electric mobility viable. Mahindra now has around 22,000-23,000 electric vehicles on ground,” Goenka said.

He said the company’s current portfolio with range of 150-200 km was more than sufficient to take care the needs of fleet operators. Mahindra has a long-term association with electric fleet operator Lithium Urban Technologies.

The companies now have a fleet of over 1,000 electric vehicles on the ground.

Elaborating on Mahindra’s product strategy in the electric segment, Goenka said the company plans to launch e-KUV100 in the first quarter of next fiscal which would be priced competitively and cost less then Rs 9 lakh.

“We have the Atom (quadricycle), last-mile connectivity four-wheeler that will be launched in the third quarter of the coming financial year and that would hopefully redefine last-mile connectivity,” he said.

Goenka further said the company will launch high-range electric XUV300 in 2021, and “that will be our first entry into the personal use segment” while all other products are designed for shared mobility.

M&M is working on localising the components from April this year and only battery cells would be imported thereafter, he added.

When asked about the company’s orders for state-owned EESL, he said that while it did not work out but the aggressive plan by the government helped in bringing the spotlight on EVs and helped in building awareness.

He also admitted that vehicles supplied to EESL were good for shared mobility but not suited for personal usage of “senior officials of the government, who did not like them”.

In 2018, EESL had floated a tender for procuring 10,000 electric vehicles.

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