‘India can become model for low-cost EV solutions to emerging markets’: Rajeev Chaba

Pricing will play a big role in popularising EV adoption and the country’s talent pool and infrastructure is capable of bringing in that change in the ecosystem.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 29 Nov 2022 Views icon5942 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

With cost being the biggest hurdle in EV adoption, especially in a price-sensitive country like India and in some overseas markets, lowering the cost has been one of the perpetual challenges that the automotive industry has been facing.

While the industry has been struggling to do so with its hands tied due to the lack of a well-established local supply chain, frugal engineering and a small vehicle form factor could just be the right answers to solve this piquing problem.

According to Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director, MG Motor India, “We need to have India-specific EV solutions considering our driving patterns and distances. While there are going to be aspirational EV customers, the mass market is going to be concentrated in customers who require a credible range of around 120-150 km for day-to-day commutes. I think such a small car could be a practical, cost-effective solution.”

Chaba who was the keynote speaker at the Autocar Professional EV Forum (Passenger Vehicles) said that India’s passenger vehicle (PV) market has evolved with unique solutions like the government’s encouragement towards sub-four-metre cars which are fuel efficient and occupy less real estate on the country’s congested roads.

“In terms of EVs too, I think India with its frugal engineering capabilities can become a role model for other emerging nations like Brazil, Mexico and Egypt, and develop small-footprint electric cars that are affordable and efficient,” he said.

15 percent of Indian PV market likely to go electric by 2030
With EV sales in the country set to clock a record year with annual volumes touching the 50,000-unit mark in CY22, Chaba further said that he estimates the numbers to further grow to reach 1,20,000 units in CY23, therefore registering a “phenomenal” growth and forming about 2.5 percent of the total PV market of about 3.8 million next year.

“While 2.5 percent is still not a bad number to start off with, we need to ascertain the requirements for the demand to sustain and grow. I expect at least 15 percent of the total Indian PV market to go electric by 2030. This number could even touch 30 percent on the higher side,” Chaba mentioned in his keynote address at the EV Forum. As per industry forecasts, the Indian PV segment is projected to grow to seven million units by 2030, with almost two million cars sold by that time likely to be EVs.

He mentioned that having a local supply chain is critical to sustain EV demand in India and acknowledged that while the country was certainly late in the battery race, the government's policy push with the PLI scheme is a step towards acceleration and encouragement for local cell manufacturing in the country.

“We are also in a good spot with respect to localising motors, controllers, wiring harnesses, and BMS and furthermore, battery recycling and urban mining of lithium-ion batteries will enable local raw material ecosystem in the country,” Chaba explained.

Chaba’s address stressed upon the four key pillars – supply chain, charging infrastructure, skilling and retail of EVs – which are necessary for accelerating EV adoption in the country.

Despite the home-charging trend being prevalent, Chaba explained the relevance of a strong EV charging infrastructure in India’s case wherein there are unique challenges with respect to parking as well as power-grid conditions compared to some developed economies.

“Skilling of manpower to service EVs as well as customer handling before the vehicle is even sold is important too as these cars boast new technologies such as ADAS and connectivity features, which could eventually give rise to the adoption of a direct-to-consumer retail model in the future, therefore, changing the entire consumer experience,” he added.

“Dealers will also see their business models going through a complete transformation when EV penetration increases further in the coming years and EVs will bring possibilities for higher levels of transparency with a track-and-trace delivery model and therefore, a redefinition of the customer journey,” he signed off. 

Watch Day 2 of Autocar Professional EV Forum. Register Now: http://bit.ly/3UNQqQE


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