Rajan Wadhera, president, Automotive Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra, is bullish on demand for the just-launched Jeeto Minivan, the second product off the Jeeto platform.
Q&A: RAJAN WADHERA, PRESIDENT, AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR, MAHINDRA & MAHINDRA
What is your outlook for the van segment in India?
The passenger segment has been flat this year but two years prior to that it witnessed de-growth. In 2016, we grew at around 4 percent, with a peak of about 15,000 a month. Sales in the category have now come down to 12,000.
This segment is going to grow with smart cities, last-mile connectivity, congestion, people switching to shared mobility and travelling from metro stations to their destination. People will look towards better and safer ways to travel. As affordability goes up, people are willing to pay more for better safer travel. The three-wheeler may not be able to fill in the gap and aspirations of the traveller, consequently we are poised to take the growth.
How much of investment and effort has gone into the new Jeeto Minivan?
The total cost of the Jeeto platform was Rs 500 crore, where Rs 350 crore went towards the load carrier, and the balance Rs 150 crore went towards the passenger version for developing the CNG, diesel and petrol variant.
How do you view demand for the Jeeto cargo vehicle with GST in place?
Veejay Nakra: Jeeto is a small-platform vehicle, it is not required to carry heavy loads, it is meant for short trips within the city. It is targeted at e-commerce companies and aggregators, transporters and logistics service providers where we see a huge opportunity.
Post-GST, the whole automotive industry will see benefits. For Jeeto, e-commerce and Swacch Bharat have helped drive growth. The initiative has helped the platform and product; we were the first company in India to sell more than 2,000 Jeetos to the Telangana government, which uses it as a tipper and garbage collection van. We foresee similar demand from other states as well.
Do you plan to introduce an electric variant of the Jeeto Minivan? How is market demand for the electric variant of the Supro?
Typically the segment is more of a wait-and-watch segment. More and more of a regulatory thrust will push people. Many years ago, there was poor demand for CNG vehicles but it rose when the government strengthened the CNG infrastructure and compelled three-wheelers to switch to the cleaner fuel.
With the year 2030 being announced by the government for an all- electric vehicle fleet, all these things will fall into place. We are getting experience and an understanding of what the consumer wants. We are rightly poised for growth.
I am optimistic that EV adaptation and growth will first come in the commercial vehicle sector. Also, it will start only with certain markets in the country as it would not be possible to be rolled out across India at the same time.