Mahindra Reva believes that the e20 scheduled to be launched on Monday is not just an electric car but an attempt to redefine the future of mobility.
“I am not going to go so far as to say that the world will change tomorrow as a result. This is not the case but the product we are launching is actually part of a complete ecosystem,” Pawan Goenka, President (Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors), M&M, told Business Line.
For instance, the Bangalore plant by itself is designed to keep pollution in check. Nearly 25 per cent of its energy needs are met by solar panels.
Designing the ecosystem of charging the electric vehicle through solar energy (which will hopefully be implemented) is another initiative.
“We are happy with the product and driving it will be a pleasure. It has taken a lot of work since the time we acquired Reva in May 2010,” Goenka says. There were already prototypes then and to make one which was production-worthy has been a “memorable experience” for the Mahindra Reva team.
“We are thrilled and with a little luck and excitement among well-informed buyers, it should be able to make a difference,” Goenka says. The only concern is that the Government subsidy did not come through, which means that the Mahindra e20 could just be priced at a slightly “uncomfortable level”.
As he puts it, it is not a matter of profits but a sense of “profound disappointment” that the company may not see the kind of penetration the e20 could have managed comfortably otherwise.
Conceding that this is a drawback, the M&M chief believes it will be difficult for anyone to launch an electric car at a price which consumers are willing to pay.
“We will always sell a few vehicles no matter what the price but that will not make a dent. Eventually, we will have to do reasonable numbers to make a difference and keep us excited. We cannot do any development otherwise,” he says.
India is still way behind almost every auto market in electric and hybrid vehicles. However, Goenka does not think this is the end of the road.
“We can catch up provided the industry and government can work together to find a way in electric and hybrid cars.
“One has to look at technology as a way to advance the overall cause of fuel security and air pollution,” he says.
Mahindra Reva is only too aware that to be able to continue the electric vehicle momentum, it will need a slew of products across user segments.
And in order to do this, R&D will have to fend for itself as the parent cannot constantly lend a supporting hand.
“We have invested enough in Reva after we took over and future product development should be supported by R&D.
“The funding should come from launching these products as it will become very difficult to continue support otherwise,” Goenka says.