MG Motor India banks on Comet EV to target 20% share of India's passenger EV market
WIth an eye on 100,000 units sales in CY2023, the company has invested Rs 800 crore at Halol plant, Gujarat to locally assemble Comet EV, which comes with 54 percent local content.
MG Motor, the British brand owned by China's largest carmaker Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) anticipates the Indian electric vehicle (EV) market to cross 1.5 lakh units per annum in CY2023, of which the company wants to corner 15 to 20% share, led by its latest entrant - the MG Comet EV - which will be introduced as a smart, urban-mobility solution.
Aimed at the aspirational youth of India, the Comet city car is expected to bring in a lot of first-time car buyers to MG's showrooms, a lot of whom are looking for a cleaner and affordable personal-mobility solution.
Rajeev Chaba, president and MD, MG Motor India, is confident about the new model and says while the Comet is aimed at the youth, it has a capability to cater to multiple segments. “This car grows on you, it can surprise many people. More and more people are interested in the Comet - young mothers, retired people, golfers etc. In terms of production readiness, we should be moving to 3,000 units a month, that is the kind of potential we see in this car," he told Autocar Professional.
MG Motor India has invested around US$ 100 million or Rs 800 crore to locally produce the Comet at its plant in Halol, Gujarat. In order to cater to incremental volumes coming from the Comet, MG Motor India will be adding a third shift at its plant to expand capacity to 120,000 units, which is the maximum annual production capacity this erstwhile General Motors factory can be stretched up to. The company has also created a dedicated press line for this micro-footprint car at this plant.
The Comet EV comes with a 17.3kWh LFP or lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry battery pack, with a claimed range of 230km per charge. Given the unique offering, which is unlike any other car available in the market, the company's showroom staffers will guide potential Comet customers about the car's functionality, and would evaluate whether it would meet the buyer's usage criteria.
Localisation is key
The Comet will feature around 54 percent local content at the start of production, with the company aiming to further enhance it to 60 percent by end-CY2023. While the company is locally sourcing the Comet's tyres and windshields from respective suppliers in India, the battery pack is being sourced from Tata AutoComp Systems (TACO), which in January 2022, had come into a joint venture agreement with China's Gotion, for the design, manufacture, supply and service of lithium-ion battery packs for EVs in India.
The car is likely to be priced around Rs 8-10 lakh, and will help further accelerate MG Motor India's presence in the fast growing EV space in the country. Along with its flagship EV model - ZS EV, MG Motor India is hopeful to produce and sell about 2,500 to 3,000 units of EVs every month in CY2023.
If it manages to meet its volume targets, MG Motor India will become the second-largest EV maker in India after Tata Motors. The company aims EVs to contribute to around 30 percent of its overall sales in CY2023.
With improved supplies of semiconductors, the Comet, which is poised to bring incremental volumes to MG's existing order backlog across its four existing models - Astor, Hector, Gloster and ZS EV - the carmaker is eyeing sales between 80,000 and 100,000 units in the current calendar year.
According to Chaba, his biggest priority right now is to break even and utilise the 120,000-unit maximum capacity at the Halol plant by next year. Alternatively, the company continues to engage with multiple potential investors to prepare for its second manufacturing facility.
"We are not in a desperate hurry for the second plant. We are going one step at a time. We are all focused on making money right now. If we sell 1.2 lakh units next year, we should be profitable. Till then we will continue to rely on ECBs or external commercial borrowings, and loans for working capital to fund the requirements," he added.
Expanding sales in next 12-18 months and planning for the next phase of expansion are all happening simultaneously at MG Motor India. Chaba says, the product planning team is working on what could be the next set of products for India and it has a wide array of options that it could bring to the Indian market.
"We will have EVs, PHEVs if there is a favorable tax benefit towards it and even ICE vehicles to cater to the different customer base," added Chaba.
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