Companies

M&M kicks off electric drive in UK

Murali Gopalan London | Updated on January 24, 2018

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Launches the e20 and hopes to spread wings in Europe

It was just three months ago when Mahindra & Mahindra launched the GenZe electric scooter in Oakland, California. On Friday, the company took its electric mobility vision to the UK with a larger offering on four wheels in the form of the e20.

The setting was a design studio in London on the banks of the Thames. The fact that Group Chairman Anand Mahindra was present with his leadership team put in perspective the importance of the event. As Arvind Mathew, Chief Executive Officer of Mahindra Reva, which makes the e20 said, “It is more than just a product launch, it is about the launch of the Mahindra brand in the UK.”

It is no secret that Anand Mahindra is passionate about the subject of mobility, especially when its dynamics have changed across the world. On more than one occasion he has spoken of the new era of access when the Ubers and Olas are providing a far more attractive option to ownership.

Likewise, with rapid urbanisation, comes the need for greater sustainability and this is where the e20 has been pitched to play its part in the changing world ecosystem. The UK is expected to be the first chapter of a larger story, which M&M hopes will gradually unfold to include other parts of Europe.

The interesting part is that the e20 involves a complete online buying model, which does away with the need for a dealership. At £13,000, it is competitively priced vis-à-vis models such as the Nissan Leaf. The car is positioned as a comfortable city commute that promotes the cause of clean air.

Pravin Shah, President and Chief Executive (Automotive), praised the UK Government’s vision to create a sustainable and cleaner tomorrow. “We reckon that there are more than 2.5 million households in the UK with a drive or garage way suitable for charging an e2o overnight and it is these people we are targeting,” he said at the launch.

If the script goes according to plan, the sky is the limit for the e20 if customers are convinced that they have a good mobility option that can navigate comfortably on crowded roads. Mathew reiterates that it boils down to sustainability and technology, which are the key growth levers for the company’s electric mobility drive.

So does Brand Mahindra have what it takes to catch the fancy of the buyer? The e20 may not create the kind of razzmatazz of a Model 3, which literally took the world by storm some weeks ago when it was unveiled and people queued up to book the car. Tesla Motors is today the buzzword for electric cars, but even its relatively affordable Model 3 is still priced at $35,000, which is big bucks for the mass buyer.

It is here that M&M hopes to fill an important void with products like the e20, which are easier on the wallet and can still meet the challenges of sustainable mobility. Clearly, the process has been set in motion with entry-level products such as the GenZe electric scooter for young buyers, with the e20 coming next on the hierarchy scale. It will be interesting to see what else will follow from the company’s stable in its electric mobility roadmap.

Perhaps the only downside is that there is very little traction happening back home in India, even while the Centre constantly reaffirms its clean air cause. At the ground level, there is a dire need to create infrastructure for charging points. Till that happens, customers in India will be paranoid about buying electric cars, which explains why the e20 barely does 100 units each month.

(The writer is in London on an invitation from M&M)

Published on April 16, 2016

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