“Electrification is irreversible in India”, said Suman Mishra, CEO, Mahindra Electric at the day one of the 3-day EV Forum organised by Autocar Professional. Other panelists including Sun Mobility’c co-founder and vice chairman, Chetan Maini, Tata Motors Product Line Director, EV and ALFA architecture, Anand Kulkarni and Nagesh Basavanhali, Group CEO & MD, Greaves Cotton also agreed to what the Mahindra Electric CEO said while discussing the ‘transition to mass scale e-mobility’.
According to her, we are going to see a significant shift from conventional ICE vehicles, “This is going to change faster than we anticipate.” Variety of market studies indicate that almost 90 percent of customers are looking to move to EV, the major drivers will be the ecosystem, charging, price points, mass market products. she mentioned.
Mishra explained that the constant increase in fuel prices along with a certain level of price parity have also impacted this shift, “almost 65 percent of three-wheelers are on track for electrification and they are close to the TCO tipping point in their life cycle. For three-wheelers we are already at the TCO tipping point, particularly because of the FAME subsidy. Also, we expect around 25 percent of e-autos will be there in the market in the next 3-4 years and 60-70 percent by 2030.”
Echoing Suman Mishra’s comment, Sun Mobility’c co-founder and vice chairman, Chetan Maini mentioned that the time for electric vehicles has come and battery swapping will be one of the enablers, “battery related challenges are different for various vehicle segments. The context and technology as well as the solution will be different, depending on the battery cycles.”
Tata Motors' product line director of EV and ALFA architecture, Anand Kulkarni stated that 'this is the best time to be in the electric field'. According to him, there are products now that can dispel the myths that are there in the EV field with regards to infrastructure, range and more. He added that people are also enquiring a lot about EV.
“Around 25 percent of the Nexon enquiries are for the EV. And, the penetration of EV will only improve further,” he said.
Nagesh Basavanhali, Group CEO & MD, Greaves Cotton, said “These are exciting times. We have moved people and cargo over the generations. Now the transition to a future of clean sustainable solutions is happening. Financing has been an issue and these challenges are getting addressed now. Most leading banks are now more open to financing EV two-wheelers. This is a key enabler for mass scalability."
CNG vs EV: Not the same route
Discussing about the transition to EVs and on concerns whether they will also meet a similar fate as CNG, Mishra said that the availability of the fuel was a key challenge in the CNG vehicles. “EVs will not face such a challenge. The shift towards EVs is a non-reversible one. A lot of indicators are pointing towards this.”
Anand Kulkarni pointed out that, “Lack of historical data a challenge in deciding EV resale value. Depreciation of value is huge (20-25%) in year 1. This becomes more favourable for 2nd & 3rd user. Initial fluctuation in residual value will stabilise as more products are in place.”
Sharing the platform an option?
The one-size-fits-all approach is not ideal for the EV field according to Chetan Maini. He stated that the indigenisation will give a competitive advantage involving OEMs, suppliers and the complete ecosystem.
On the other hand, Anand Kulkarni mentioned that it is not new for the OEMs to share a platform and it has been there for a long time. But when it comes to EV, only select parts can be used commonly. He added that, “cross sharing of platforms will be a little difficult unless there are certain conditions.”
Mentioning a similar point, the Mahindra Electric CEO added that there are two areas where we can find commonalities – supply ecosystem and software, “The shift of the profit pool is unlikely to go in one direction. OEMs need to look for a balance in the margin scenario. They have a stake in tech and EV manufacturing. EV servicing is a challenge; training is crucial and equipment is relatively expensive.”
Bypassing the hybrid
On the topic of hybridisation, the industry leaders agreed that now is the time for EV and not hybrids. With the battery prices going down drastically, the tilt is more in favour of EVs. Suman Mishra pointed out that, hybridisation is not a profitable option at the moment, “It will be adding complexity without gaining any advantage in terms of lower emission. The focus is now on direct shift to electrification.”
“By 2030, India may have 40-50 percent of its fleet as electric, making a case for wider renewable energy sources. Clean energy ecosystem at an affordable rate makes business sense for all. Rooftop will be a great distribution. And, 20-30 percent can quite easily come there. When policy changes come in, it will be easily adoptable,” Chetan Maini signed off.