As the global electrification trend gathers steam, home-grown OEM cis emerging among as one of the players which is placing a bigger bet on the industry’s future to be electric.
As the Nexon EV, Tata’s first electric vehicle (EV) model powered by its Zipton technology and aimed at the personal usage segment gains ground, the OEM sees the EV drive to get only bigger. The Nexon EV, which turned a year old on January 28 and is close to crossing the 3,000-units sales mark, could be followed by more models in the near future. The Nexon EV’s real-world driving range of over 200km per charge is seen as a key factor for its market performance, in addition to the fact that it falls in the most favourable SUV segment.
“Today the Nexon EV is able to deliver that and that's why it is in the sweet spot today as far as that segment is concerned. Similarly, the Safari and HBX would be launched later on. All these will be candidates for electric as far as our entire portfolio is concerned. So, our entire portfolio can go electric,” Shailesh Chandra, President – PVBU, Tata Motors tells Autocar Professional in the latest episode of Autocar Professional Dialogue, a video interview series.
Plugging into green mobility
Tata Motors’ efforts in the EV space began with an EV version of its first passenger vehicle model – the Indica – in 2006. Since then the EV projects were mainly developed for technology demonstration purposes. It was in September 2017 that an announcement of winning a bid to supply Tata EVs to Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) that surprised many. The first batch of Tata Tigor EVs was delivered on December 14, 2017. The Tigor EV is Tata Motors’ first EV model to hit the market and till end-December 2020 has sold a total of 1,780 units. Thecarmaker's new platforms on which sit the current range of passenger vehicles (PV) already have been designed to support electrification.
The ‘piggy backing’ approach has been taken to allow the OEM develop EVs with relatively lesser investments. However, as the EV industry evolves Tata Motors could develop EVs on dedicated platforms. “As the market evolves, as the scale increases, as the technology prices of electric vehicles come down you would definitely like to go for more efficient products on dedicated platforms,” says Chandra.
A large part of Chandra’s bet on EVs is also influenced by multiple factors, with deteriorating air quality in many cities across India being a key one. “The first and biggest driver as far as India is concerned is that you have 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities of the world in India, where you have an issue of 75 to 80 percent of dependence on oil through imports. And then the whole energy security issue. All these points towards a greater urgency as far as electrification as far as India is concerned,” he says.
With the Central, and many state governments also devising policies to adopt electric mobility, industry players like Tata Motors stand to benefit. The critical scale is still some time away though. Addressing challenges like charging infrastructure, higher acquisition cost compared to ICE vehicles, and creating more consumer awareness about the new technology will be crucial to pave the way for a better drive for the EV industry.
To watch the full interview with Shailesh Chandra, click on https://youtu.be/7gP5wkSBaRg
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