Tata Motors, one of the leading players in electric vehicles (EVs) space in India, is taking a lead in zero-emission mobility by developing a range of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The company is also working with relevant Tata companies to offer a full ecosystem solution to EV industry, says Shailesh Chandra, President - Electric Mobility Business and Corporate Strategy, Tata Motors. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Shailesh Chandra focuses on how India can acheive its true potential in EV industry and Tata Motors' growth plans for EVs.
How is Tata Motors preparing itself to tap the evolving EV market?
We at Tata Motors have identified sustainable transportation as one of the core elements of our company strategy, in line with the Sustainable Mobility Vision outlined by the Indian government. With Government’s continued thrust on accelerated adoption of e-mobility through enabling policies and with continued reduction in battery prices and other critical components, we clearly see sharp rise in demand for electric vehicles in the coming years.
Tata Motors already has developed cars, buses and last mile vehicles – either launched already or ready for commercialisation. It has used in-house capabilities as well as collaboration with its partner, Electra EV, to develop competitive range of products. In the coming years, acknowledging the need for range of options to bring excitement among consumers, Tata Motors is developing a strong portfolio of products. Alongside products, the company is also working with relevant Tata companies such as Tata Power, Tata Motors Finance to offer a full ecosystem solution.
What are key issues before EV industry in India?
High cost, range anxiety and charging infrastructure definitely remain the top concerns or barriers to adoption of electric cars. Nevertheless, with reducing battery costs in the future and government’s support to development of charging infrastructure will overcome these top issues. Additionally, incentives through FAME India scheme will help in overcoming the cost barrier in the interim period.
The other noteworthy issues remain the lack of choices for consumers, long charging time for electric vehicles (currently in hours, as compared to few minutes for refueling ICE vehicles) and concerns on resale value of electric vehicles. Also for the Indian market, high dependence on imports due to lack of supply base in India, pose a big constraint in a price sensitive market.
Are there also challenges involved in the manufacturing of EVs? Is Indian auto component industry ready to support the growth of EVs market in India?
As mentioned in the earlier response, a significant value in terms of components and parts, are imported. Demand for e-vehicles is very low, which deters interest in local ecosystem development. Initial seeding order for cars (such as EESL tender for 10,000 cars) and buses by the Government have triggered interest in not only OEMs but also other auto component players. However, clarity on EV policy, lack of sustainable demand and technology uncertainties are the reasons being stated by various suppliers for not investing.
Nevertheless, some big auto component suppliers have taken the plunge and are proactively investing in the new technology components to take the lead. As the demand in the market grows, more and more auto component suppliers, sitting on the fence, are likely to invest to secure their future as the transition gains pace. However, localisation in upwards of 80-90 per cent, is going to take time especially on account of battery cells, which is capital intensive and vulnerable to dynamic state of battery chemistry innovations.
At present, government procurement is driving EVs market. Do you see scope for private consumption for EVs increasing as well in near future?
We believe that Government’s procurement will be the anchor around which the EV ecosystem will develop. However, beyond Government, we clearly see that the fleet, commercial and aggregator segment will be the next immediate buyers because of daily running being in excess of 150 kms. This ensures a quick payback owing to lower per kilometer running cost of EVs. Private buyers will need greater awareness building and will gradually take-off. Mass adoption will need full ecosystem maturity and prices will significantly come down in future.