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India’s electric cars race: M&M vs Maruti Suzuki vs Tata Motors vs Ola Electric

CNBCTV18 logo CNBCTV18 8/16/2022 Kanishka Sarkar

Mahindra and Mahindra is eyeing leadership in India’s electric four-wheeler segment, with its design studio in the UK expected to be a critical differentiator.

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"The time has come for electric vehicles," Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, said at the launch of Mahindra Advanced Design Europe (MADE) studio in Oxfordshire, UK, on Monday.

M&M has announced that it would launch five new electric Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for both domestic and international markets, with the first four expected to hit the road between 2024 and 2026.

The Indian auto major’s plans come at a time when data shared by the Minister of State for Heavy Industries Krishan Pal Gurjar with Parliament shows that a total of 1.19 lakh EVs were sold in 2020, which increased to 3.11 lakh in 2021 and 4.19 lakh in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Automobile Dealer Association's (FADA) data suggests Indian EV sales increased threefold to a total of 4,29,217 units in the 2021-2022 financial period compared to 1,34,821 units from the year-ago period. Of this, the share of e-cars was only 17,802 units.

Here’s a look at how M&M, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Ola Electric and their peers plan to take India’s EV drive forward

Mahindra and Mahindra

The Mahindra Group has launched two new electric brands, the XUV and the all-new Born Electric (BE), for ground-up electric vehicles. The XUV.e8, XUV.e9, BE.05, BE.07 and BE.09 are based on the Indian Global (INGLO) platform and use Volkswagen's Electric Vehicle components.

According to the firm, the INGLO platform includes progressive battery technology, brain power, platform architecture and a human-machine interface. The platform will underpin all Mahindra EVs going forward, it said.

In a statement, the firm said, "Mahindra's vision is to lead the electric mobility revolution in India by bringing authentic electric SUVs with cutting-edge technology through the three key strategic pillars of brand, design and technology."

Tata Motors

Tata Motors made its way into the EV four-wheeler space with Nexon EV and has two cars in its electric portfolio for the Indian market, Tata Tigor EV being the second one. It also recently launched Tata Nexon EV Max, a premium version of the e-SUV.

Tata Motors, which sold 9,300 electric units in the April to June quarter, plans to launch 10 new electric cars in the next five years.

According to a FADA report, Tata Motors commanded over 85 percent of India’s electric car sales in FY22.

Earlier in April, Tata Motors unveiled its most advanced electric vehicle concept yet, the Avinya. The company said the Avinya has been built to global benchmarks and would be launched in 2025. Shailesh Chandra, the managing director of Tata Motors' passenger vehicle business unit, said Avinya would give a minimum range of 500 kilometres.

“Nexon EV and Tigor EV are two products in generation 1, Tata Curvv in generation 2, and now Avinya we have showcased in generation 3," he told CNBC-TV18 in April.

Maruti Suzuki

Months after Maruti Suzuki's Managing Director and CEO Hisashi Takeuchi said the firm would launch its first EV in 2025, the company unveiled its foray into the EV space with its hybrid Grand Vitara in July.

While the production will start in August, the 2022 Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara is scheduled to go on sale in September. The car is slated to be the first-ever strong hybrid SUV made by the company.

Grand Vitara comes in two engine options.

(i) The Intelligent Electric Hybrid trim is powered by a 1.5-litre self-charging strong hybrid powertrain. This variant comes in four different modes — EV, Eco, Power and Normal — and offers the best-in-class fuel efficiency at 27.97 km per litre. The car will offer only an e-CVT.

(ii) The Progressive Smart Hybrid trim comes with a 1.5-litre engine paired with brake energy regeneration, torque assist, and idle start-stop features. This will be the mild-hybrid version. The Progressive Smart Hybrid trim will offer a maximum fuel efficiency of 21.11 km per litre. It will have a five-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.

While Maruti Suzuki is yet to reveal the hybrid SUV’s price, earlier in April, Takeuchi had said that EVs are still very expensive, and with the current technology, it is quite difficult to make a very affordable EV. When asked if that meant the company's first EV would not be under Rs 10 lakh, he said, "I can't give you a specific answer right now but what I can tell is that it's really difficult to have a cost-competitive and less expensive EV because of the cost of a battery."

Hyundai

South Korea's Hyundai Motor said in December 2021, it planned to invest Rs 40 billion ($530 million) in launching six electric vehicles in India by 2028.

The auto major launched Kona EV in India in July 2019.

Hyundai has also confirmed that it is bringing the Hyundai Ioniq 5, based on the same E-GMP platform as Kia EV6, to India later this year. The hatchback will be assembled in India.

The Ioniq 5 will likely sport two battery options — 58 kWh and 77.8 kWh. On a full charge, the car is claimed to deliver a maximum range of 507 km. As it will be assembled in India, the car could be priced as low as around Rs 45 lakh, reports suggest.

Ola Electric

Ola Electric has confirmed its electric car with a range of up to 500 km (310 miles), hailed as one of the ambitious car projects in India, will be launched by 2024. Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola Electric's CEO, said it would be the sportiest car ever built in India. Ola Electric car will deliver a drag co-efficient of less than .21, which would be the best in its class, as per Aggarwal. The car is said to have an all-glass roof and a smooth aerodynamic body.

Aggarwal said Ola Electric aims to provide a range of electric two-wheelers to electric cars. "We have a full roadmap in the works in the car space... We will definitely have cars at the entry price market. We are starting with a premium car, and that comes out in 18 to 24 months," he told news agency PTI.

He further said, "We are envisioning across all the products (that) we will launch, maybe by 2026 or 2027 we will target a million cars a year by volume." Aggarwal, however, did not elaborate on how many electric car models the company would have by 2026-2027. Ola's first electric car will have the capability to accelerate from 0-100 kmph in four seconds and will have a range of more than 500 kilometres per charge, he said.

Mercedes-Benz

With plans afoot to locally assemble its all-electric sedan EQS in India, luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz is looking to accelerate sales of electric vehicles in the country, a senior company official earlier said.

Mercedes-Benz India plans to bring the locally assembled EQS electric sedan to the market in the fourth quarter of FY23 to add to the all-electric SUV EQC, which was launched as a fully imported unit in October 2020 and priced at Rs 1.07 crore.

Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director & CEO Martin Schwenk, earlier in January, said, "We have taken a step-by-step approach in developing electric vehicle strategy in India. EQC was first available in six markets in India and gradually expanded. Now we are in 50 cities with the EQC, and the next step is to expand the portfolio with a car, which we believe has a stronger volume appeal and producing it locally."

BMW

German luxury carmaker BMW expects its electric vehicle sales to account for over 10 percent of its total car sales in India by next year, a top company official said in May.

The company, which launched its all-electric sedan i4 in India at an introductory price of Rs 69.9 lakh, is confident that with the "widest electric vehicle portfolio", it will lead the "charge in electromobility” in India.

In November last year, the company announced plans to launch three electric vehicles in six months in India. It has already launched its technology flagship all-electric SUV iX and all-electric MINI SE luxury hatchback.

MG Motor

MG Motor India is prepping to launch its next electric car in India, which will likely be priced between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 16 lakh. The company's President and MD Rajeev Chaba is said to have hinted at a Mint Mobobility Conclave.

MG currently sells ZS EV in India, competing against rivals like Tata Nexon EV and Hyundai Kona EV.

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