Mahindra to develop own range of electric vehicles

Mahindra and Mahindra plans to enter electric mobility in a big way, producing a range of vehicles from small cars to performance vehicles as it fortifies its future, chairman Anand Mahindra told shareholders on Friday.

Addressing the company's 71st annual general meeting in Mumbai on Friday, Mahindra informed shareholders that the company will have range of electric cars - right from a small car to a vehicle for shared mobility platforms like Ola and Uber to even a performance car under the Pininfarina brand.

But, he said, Mahindra is not interested in being Tesla of India, the company would rather create a differentiated offering than following Tesla. He said Mahindra has a strategy both for ride sharing in fleet business right up to premium vehicles.

"We have just committed that we are working on high end cars. Tesla was the pioneer, so Mahindra should develop its separate niche. There is no point in copying anybody, you have to differntiate yourself. We are spending significant amount of money on electric. We are ahead of the game," Mahindra said.

Mahindra, with its electric subsidiary, has invested about Rs500 crore in the EV business and has recently committed an additional Rs600 crore. The company currently imports cell and packages and fits it on to the vehicles.

He said the 12 per cent fix on electric vehicle GST combined with the Rs1 lakh benefit under the FAME scheme and the road tax waiver by some state governments have come as a big relief for manufacturers of clean energy vehicles.

However, Mahindra said, industry cannot always look for government subsidy and should be ready for normal life after the initial hand holding. "For electric vehicles to take off they must become competitive against the gasoline and I believe that is around the corner given the falling battery costs. If you as an industry are going to depend on government for subsidies, it will never survive," said Mahindra.

Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing finished third in the recently concluded Formula E Racing competition, ahead of global brands like Jaguar just behind Renault and Audi. "We were third out of 10 constructors, after Renault and Audi. We are getting enormous technology feedback from there, Formula Electric is our laboratory in that sense, that is part of the reason we will succeed in the high end of electric vehicles," Mahindra stated.

Mahindra defended Mahindra Electric's recent exit from the UK market saying that market for EVs in UK had moved up from affordable small cars to high performance electric cars.

"We tried a very unique model in UK where we had no dealerships, we are re-adjusting our strategy for Europe with EVs. What we found out was the market has moved very quickly from smaller E2O like vehicles to higher end EV - it is better to return when we have a right product for Europe. As you know we have acquired Pininfarina, we intend to be in the higher end EV space, so we will come back with a product which is suitable for European market," Mahindra added.