Having led Tata Motors to a leadership position in the domestic electric vehicle market, Shailesh Chandra, Managing Director, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Ltd and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility Ltd, spoke to businessline on the introduction of future technologies in the Indian automobile industry, challenges for electric vehicles, and the way ahead. Excerpts:
Are you exploring any partnerships with Tata Motors’ British subsidiary JLR on future technologies like autonomy and connected cars? Do you see space for such products in the Indian automobile market?
We are jointly exploring future technologies with JLR as the underlying architecture that supports these features is electric and we are planning something. Connected cars are a way of life as cars are more mobile on wheels and the demand is only going to increase. If a level three autonomy comes in Europe, then a level two autonomy can come in India.
What are the key EV customer insights gained so far? Are some of the customer needs different than in the conventional vehicle space?
Customers have given us insights on cost optimisation, use of regeneration on highways, and charging behaviour as to how often and how many hours they are charging their vehicles. We can provide solutions accordingly. The insights have been used to optimise products and develop an ecosystem on charging infrastructure as well. As we have telematics information, we are using the data to further improve algorithms to make our cars more efficient.
What is the EV market share that you are targeting?
We are not worried about market share as we are the market right now. Our focus is on volume growth and we aspire to have 50,000 as the demand is strong.
How do you plan to contribute to the development of charging infrastructure in the country?
We are collaborating with Tata Power on public charging on the highways, particularly as we have witnessed that inside the city 97 per cent of our customers charge at home. We are providing home charging where Tata Power installs it for us and we are also working with residential societies to give us space for setting up of common chargers. We have put 200 chargers in 50 societies in three cities including Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune.
In your view, what are the biggest challenges to marketing an electric future to Indians? And how do you plan to overcome these hurdles?
There are residual problems like people waiting to see if it is a safe technology and if practical and charging infrastructure is available. In the next two to three years, the charging infrastructure would have expanded. When people see that the running cost is low and the best technology is available it is a matter of time before the residual issues are addressed.