The e2o, launched on Monday, is only the first part of the electric vehicle (EV) script for Mahindra & Mahindra. The next big step will include SsangYong Motor of Korea, which the Indian company bought out a little over two years ago.
“We are looking to develop the next electric powertrain jointly for SsangYong and M&M where Mahindra Reva will do the work,” Pawan Goenka, President, Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors, told Business Line .
Mahindra Reva has its plant in Bangalore and, like SsangYong, was another critical acquisition made in May 2010. Work on the new M&M-SsangYong powertrain is expected to start shortly.
It is also not clear yet if this will be part of a larger global play where a whole range of EVs from the stables of M&M and SSangYong will find their way into a slew of markets. Goenka was, however, categorical that he did not “want to put the cart before the horse,” saying that his top priority was to first ensure some vehicles were out on the road “before other things start falling into place”.
To that extent, the market response to the e2o will play a big role in plotting M&M’s future plans.
The absence of any Government incentives has been a big drawback but the company still hopes there are customers who can see the bigger picture, in terms of other benefits, and opt for the e2o.
“It is important to see some results first which will do a great deal of good in overall motivation for the team,” Goenka said.
For the moment, EVs are going through a rough ride in global markets and the buoyancy witnessed even up to a year ago is clearly missing.
This is where the e2o could just do the trick in changing global sentiment about EVs. After all, it was India which made the term ‘frugal engineering’ fashionable in the automobile industry. “If we do succeed, it could hopefully bring back the enthusiasm for EVs across the world,” Goenka said.
The M&M chief was also hopeful that EVs would not be a rarity on Indian roads 2-3 years down the line. “This will happen with more than one player and I am sure others will be watching how the e2o does before they plan their future offerings,” he said.
Ideally, added Goenka, it would be great to see EVs become the last mile connectivity in cities for people to subsequently use subways, the metro or long-distance buses.
“It is not as if three-wheelers and taxis will go away but people will not mind an EV once mass transport becomes desirable and almost fashionable,” he said.