India must aim to build a global brand in electric

by Brian de Souza 22 Apr 2022


India’s EV sector must aim to build a global brand in electric, create its own standards and ensure that there is no compromise on safety-related issues, said Chetan Maini, chairman of Sun Mobility. He made these remarks in a keynote address at the Autocar Professional EV Forum

Maini started his address by focusing on, in his view, the three key opportunities India has in the EV space. These, he said, include tapping opportunities in personal and commercial transport, leveraging the entire eco-system, not just the product per se, and creating the right Indian standards.

Maini, however, said that there were many challenges along the way that the EV sector would have to overcome. These included lowering reliance on imported parts such as batteries and electronics, strengthening R&D and encouraging innovation and design, amongst another factors. Then drawing a parallel with the existing eco-system, he said “We need to replicate in the EV domain what we have been able to achieve in ICE,” he said.

Maini also said the as India’s EV sector grows, it needs to offer the potential customer a wide range of quality products, a handful of which now exist. Also, he said the industry has to prepare for a time when subsidies will go, and therefore, aim, to be self-sustaining.

The chairman of Sun Mobility also touched upon other issues such as the sector’s vulnerability in design and quality, lack of extensive charging and swapping infrastructure,  and also the need to look at the post-purchase experience and sustain customer confidence.

In his remarks, Maini said the recent fires were a wake-up call to the industry. Industry has had familiarity with the lithium-ion battery for 17 years or so, and the future would belong to companies that “ think long term”, and that safety was paramount.

India’s EV sector had to either choose to follow global standards or devise its own, which would give it a chance to be a strong global player. The sector needs to standardise hardware and customise software, an area in which OEMs and tier 1s have tremendous opportunities.

In terms of the manufacturing set up, he said India’s EV journey offered OEMs and Tier 1s the opportunity to work together, and highlighted the developments in industries such as the PC and telecom where collaborative work has brought many a product within an affordable price range.

Maini also said the design and performance of Indian two wheelers should meet Indian expectations. “We should try to design batteries and electronics which comprise 60 percent of the electric two-wheeler.”

He  stressed the need to devise new business models centered around battery swapping, energy, infrastructure charging etc,. The country needs to look at the role of government and enabling policies and said “innovation is paramount”.

With regard to fires, he said it was a wakeup call for the industry and said there cannot be any compromise on safety.

The EV sector can help grow the economy and create a wide variety of jobs. Industry and government have to come together and “ win together”.  In conclusion, he said that it is finally the industry and the consumer that should make the final decision in the kind of products that will be on offer.