Exclusive: Mahindra appoints Kausalya Nandakumar as COO for EV division, new COO for auto biz likely

Kausalya Nandakumar, currently head of Women Empowerment at the Mahindra Group, will drive the P&L of the EV company; new COO for auto business to help accelerate M&M’s SUV growth

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 22 Mar 2023 Views icon14424 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Exclusive: Mahindra appoints Kausalya Nandakumar as COO for EV division, new COO for auto biz likely

Having announced an investment of Rs 10,000 crore in its electric vehicle (EV) business in December 2022, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is now putting together a leadership team and an organisational structure in its newly formed EV division – Mahindra Electric Automobiles Limited (MEAL). 

Autocar Professional learns that the company has appointed Kausalya Nandakumar (pictured above) as its Chief Operating Officer (COO), who will be responsible for the operational growth as well as PL&L at MEAL. The new setup, which is to be announced shortly, will be effective from April 1, 2023. 

Alternatively, the company is likely to appoint a COO for the Automotive division, who is likely to be roped in from outside the group in order to reinforce its growing SUV business. 

Kausalya Nandakumar, who has been with the Mahindra Group for over a decade and a half, is currently the head of Women Empowerment at the Group. She has overseen numerous roles within the Group right from branding, sales, market research and strategy planning, through to exploring new business opportunities. She headed the business transformation vertical during the peak of the second wave of Covid, before taking charge of the Women Empowerment role.

The new organisation will be strongly supported by Mahindra Automotive's management through an internal management council. Veejay Nakra and R Velusamy will be joint managing directors in this new arm; they will also be part of the Management Council which will be led by Rajesh Jejurikar as the chairman of the council. 

An email sent to M&M to confirm these latest developments did not elicit any response till the time of publishing.   

The management council is likely to be composed of Mahindra Group leaders like Veejay Nakra, R Velusamy, Vinod Sahay and Rajeev Goyal, who will provide the direction and will be a bridge between Mahindra Automotive and Mahindra Electric Automobiles. This essentially means that the critical functions of design, sourcing, product development and manufacturing will be supported by M&M’s existing automotive division.

Mahindra Electric Automobiles Ltd (MEAL) is a dedicated arm for battery EVs in the passenger vehicle segment, with the Last Mile Mobility Division, led by Suman Mishra being operated as a separate arm with a dedicated P&L. 

While the key roles of the heads of marketing and products have been finalised, appointments of sales and other key functional heads are underway. A detailed structure of the EV company is slated to be announced shortly.

M&M's EV drive gets future-ready

As is known, M&M has already announced plans to launch half-a-dozen EVs across price points targeting sale of over 200,000 units in the coming five years. Therefore, it needs to have a strategic and appropriate structure in place to execute this plan as it aims to lead the segment, said people in the know.

In August 2022, M&M secured a sourcing partnership with the Volkswagen Group for MEB electric components. With the development of vehicle architecture gathering full steam, a competent team is being put in place to execute this ambitious plan.

To fund the same, M&M raised Rs 1,925 crore /US$ 250 million last year at a valuation of up to Rs 70,070 crore / US$ 9.1 billion from British International Investment into Mahindra Electric Automobile.

Despite trailing in the EV race with Tata Motors, interestingly, M&M was able to raise money in its EV subsidiary at almost a similar valuation as did Tata Motors. TPG invested Rs 7,500 crore for an 11-15% stake in Tata Motors, valuing India’s EV market leader around Rs 70,000 crore.

British International Investment will invest up to Rs 1,925 crore in the form of compulsory convertible instruments at a valuation of up to Rs 70,070 crore, resulting in increased ownership from 2.75% to 4.76% for BII in the EV division.  The first round of BII’s capital investment was planned to be completed no later than June 2023 on fulfillment of conditions precedent and the balance post-completion of certain milestones in FY2024. However, this got pushed by several quarters.

As per the revised plan, the first tranche of Rs 1,200 crore will now be invested by March 31, 2024 while the second tranche of Rs 725 crore will be completed by July 1, 2024. These are subject to achievement of milestones.

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