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Mahindra bets big on last-mile connectivity and shared mobility for EVs

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on October 29, 2020 Published on October 29, 2020

Launches electric three-wheeler cargo model, Treo Zor

Mahindra & Mahindra is betting big on the potential of electric vehicles in the last-mile connectivity and shared mobility segments, identifying this as the space where the “real benefit” of EVs will come to India.

“Our interest right now is on shared mobility and last-mile connectivity (for EVs) because that’s where we think the real benefit of EVs will come to India in terms of the air quality improvement that we need to have in our cities,” Pawan Goenka, MD & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, told reporters post the launch of Treo Zor on Thursday.

Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd, the electric mobility business arm of the Mahindra Group, on Thursday launched its new electric three-wheeler cargo model, Treo Zor, starting at a price of ₹2.73 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi, net of FAME-2 and state subsidies). The Treo Zor is locally made in India except for the lithium ion cells.

Mahindra’s Treo rides into Karnataka

EV in the last-mile connectivity space is going to pick up very rapidly due to the fact that the commercial viability of it is well-established, said Goenka. E-commerce players are very keen to convert their last-mile delivery fleet to electric, he added. “Large-scale adaptation of EVs in shared mobility and last-mile connectivity is what India needs. Therefore, our focus is on launching technologically advanced, but affordable, shared and last-mile mobility products... I also believe that India has a huge opportunity to become the world leader in shared mobility application of EVs and become a supplier of technology and products to the world in this space and thereby promote ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat,” said Goenka.

“There is a huge need for last-mile delivery (especially amid the pandemic) and that’s where we want to play a role,” said Mahesh Babu, MD & CEO, Mahindra Electric. “We are in touch with large players like Flipkart, Amazon and Reliance Retail for Zor as it is a product designed on customer inputs and these players were involved at an early stage,” Babu added.

Post the transition to BS-6 emission norms from April 1, 2020, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an electric three-wheeler — after taking into consideration FAME incentives too — is less than that of an internal combustion engine three-wheeler, Goenka pointed out. “Therefore, the relative commercial value of EV in the shared mobility and last-mile space has become much better.”

No change in capex for EVs

When asked if there is a need for a government policy push for green recovery or EVs, Goenka said, “We keep looking for policies...now it’s up to us. We cannot keep looking for the government to keep doing it. If manufacturers, service providers and even end-users do not come together and say ‘we want to promote EVs’, then you cannot keep asking the government to do something more. In three-wheelers, we have reached a point where the TCO of an electric three-wheeler is lower than an ICE (three-wheeler) — what more do we want from the government?”

Goenka added that the only thing that can come up is the infrastructure for charging. “Why do we ask the government to give the infrastructure for charging? They have given incentives for charging infrastructure in the FAME policy. It’s up to us to do it. We are doing the vehicle part of it, somebody else should do the charger part of it, and somebody else should do the service part.”

Goenka also said that there has been no change in Mahindra’s capex for EVs due to the pandemic. “Everything that we have talked about is happening as per plans. We are investing ₹500 crore in an R&D centre which will be coming up in Bengaluru. We have already invested about ₹1,000 crore in EVs,” he said.

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Published on October 29, 2020
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