Till Mahindra do something people will keep talking of… waiting for the Govt. subsidy to come, for Gudi Padva to come, for Diwali to come, for Christmas to come and for New Year to come to buy a new car. It is not the Company’s responsibility nor is it in its benefit to engage in such discussion. Even if the subsidy is given the improvement in sales will be marginal because people have not understood the Electric Car. They are afraid of the Electric car just like they are afraid of the Automatic Transmission car. People imagine the cost will be much more.
Another excellent excuse is “auto industry is in recession” Yes it is in recession BECAUSE the petrol prices are going through the roof and people find it expensive to own Petrol/Diesel Cars. So presently they rent one whenever the family trip happens. Meeru Cabs are an excellent call-taxi service so people depend upon that. Electric Car marketing team should have capitalized on this increase petrol prices and the EV industry sales could have just zoomed upwards. But right now the best selling electric car in the world (until the late 2009) is facing its worst sales record EVER. While the EV industry the world over did excellent sales. Mind you from 2009 till 2013 the whole of Reva-e2o team were completely dormant due to the switch over to Mahindra. The company lost 4 to 5 precious years of momentum and gave away the first mover advantage to other international companies.
If the petrol prices drop THEN this “auto industry is in recession” excuse is acceptable for the EV industry, not the other way around.
But who benefits most from excuses? - The Company Marketing heads obviously benefit most. It is they who have an excuse to show that it is because the Govt Subsidy did not come people are not buying the car, it is because Diwali has not come that people are not buying the car, it is because New year has not come that people are not buying the car. Blah Blah and more Blah… It is for such reason that a separate marketing team has to be setup for the EV Department. The future of this team should depend upon the future of the EV Marketing Team of the Company. Fair enough?
The onus is also on the company is on reaching out to the customer, in engaging them, in discussing and showcasing live to them how the car runs. This is paramount… as almost 99.99% of the population has not even seen how an e2o or an Electric Car looks in real life forget about how it performs. This is a serious disadvantage for the company which they have to overcome... SOMEHOW.
It is not every day that people put 7 Lakhs rupees on the table to play blind. It is also not a inexpensive car. Let us also accept the fact that parking the car, maintaining Solar Panels and charging is much, much easier to do in villages than in Cities. If we are willing to do a little heart searching we will also find that the villages are where people need more vehicles as the public transport is very limited.
We would do well also to accept the fact that not all villagers are poor. And a much higher percentage of villagers (in comparison to the city dwellers) are installing Solar Panels for their lighting/Irrigation purposes. Theoretically any person in the village having more than 1 Acre land or having 5 cows should be a prospective e2o buyer.
By that account itself Mahindra E2O should have sold at least 10% of number of the Solar Irrigation Pumps sold in India. If suppose 10,000 Solar Pumps were sold till date then Mahindra should have sold at least 1,000 E2O. Its as simple as that.
Marketing Blunder or Design Error
If Mahindra could not do this then it is a very serious marketing blunder on their part. Or unless the vehicle cannot be used on village roads which again is a very serious problem that Mahindra Team are to solve.
If Mahindra were to showcase this vehicle across the country and target the small towns and villages then they would easily double their sales. But they have to explain to the small town/village folks how this thing works, the whole concept idea and how by charging it from their solar panels would liberate them from Petrol and Diesel costs just like the Solar Pumps have liberated them from the mercy of the Grid and Electricity charges.
One of the solutions includes offering Lead-Acid Battery as an option which they were using in their older version called Reva. Obviously the quality of the Lead-Acid Battery and its packing have improved over the course of the last 10 yrs. So a Rs 5 Lakh E2O with a Rs 90,000 Lead Acid Battery (good for 2yrs) is a good option for a person who do not want the 3Lakh Li-Ion Battery pack or a person who wants to reduced the price of the car.
After all everybody likes to have a choice. Don’t we?
I once again list the things Mahindra needs to do to improve:
1. Short term Renting out - for people going outstation or longer distances especially on weekends.
2. Show case the car to the people on the road. Have more road shows, EV events and let people actually feel and appreciate how good the car is to drive.
3. Marketing department needs a shake up. Or a completely new marketing team needs to be set up for the Electric Vehicle segment.
4. Social Network push can get better.
5. Websites, Magazines and other media that are pro EV need to be supported.
6. To think of Rural areas and small towns as bigger markets than Cities. 70 % of India is in Villages. ALL OF THEM have space to park a car, Solar panels are getting installed every day. But sadly the world EV community, Mahindra thinks the other way around. Most of them think of city People as prospective buyers.
7. EV vehicles need to be able to tackle village type uneven roads.
8. Inclusion of locally made good quality (Su-Kam) Lead Acid Batteries as an option for cheaper e2o car.
9. Publish a strategy on DC quick charging stations. Placing of these along highways rather than residential areas will allow people to travel Inter-State especially around tourist/business spots - Prominently along Mumbai-Pune-Aurangabad / Bangalore-Chennai etc.
Placing quick charger stations will enable, existing customers of the Mahindra e2o to occasionally travel more than 100 kms and thus solve the problem of long distance driving. This would change the e2o from a commuter car into a regional car.
10. Have townhall events, like the ones showcased by Tesla Motors where the top executives, including Mr Chetan Maini can speak to the owners and get feedback. This should be published on YouTube and other social media to showcase and encourage other prospective customers.