This is the question we ponder in the first episode of the brand new podcast series - 'PluginIndia Musings'
Hello everyone! This is Kamlesh from PluginIndia.
In this brand new series, we analyze, speculate, appreciate and even vent our frustrations about the Indian electric vehicle industry!
Lets get right to it!
In this episode, we talk about Mahindra Electric, until recently known as Mahindra Reva the sole manufacturers of electric cars in India.
As many know, Reva Electric Car Company owned by Mr Chetan Maini was instrumental in developing and manufacturing electric vehicles sold in India and abroad. The iconic G-Whiz in the UK or the Revai in India were the products of the Reva electric car company.
When Mahindra purchased Reva, they expected to sell 50,000 electric cars a year in seven-eight years timeframe.
That was back in 2010.
2017 is almost upon us and Mahindra is way off the target.
So what did Mahindra’s electric car division achieve in 7 years between 2010 and now. It is almost 2017?
- Stopped selling the classic Reva and invest in creating the e2o
- Invested in a factory on the outskirts of Bengaluru with a capacity of 30,000 electric cars a year. Its an incredible factory with lots of renewable energy being used and energy efficiency in manufacturing processes.
- The 2 door e2o hatchback powered by Solar power was unveiled in March 2013. Who can forget that iconic photograph at the India gate in Delhi. There was a yellow and green e2o sucking amps from sunshine! That was a powerful image and great marketing and branding there!
A car that could run on Solar power captured the imagination of many! The 2 door e2o had quirky looks, they came in multiple bright colors. The e2o is truly an attention grabber and a conversation started. Many e2o owners in various Indian cities absolutely love the zippy nature of the car, ease of use in Indian roads and the low running costs.
In 2014, Mahindra Reva showcased couple of new electric cars - the e-Verito sedan, DC QuickCharge Stations and the Halo sports concept. Under the vision of Mr Chetan Maini, we were seeing some awesome progress being made. The Reva drivetrain was being used in a Mahindra Sedan - The Verito. A new electric Sports car called the Halo that really looked cool and turned heads.There was a demonstration of the DC QuickCharge station and the QuickChargePort on the e2o. The QuickChargePort upgrade package was extremely promising for existing new customers and potential new customers. Once you had QC stations between 2 important cities or outside cities, you could easily take your electric car outside cities.
At this point, EV enthusiasts were really excited! Within 4 years of taking over Reva, Mahindra were showing awesome progress.
Although the sales of the e2o were not encouraging mainly due to lack of government support with no subsidies provided.
It was great progress and the EV community were assured, that under Mr Chetan Maini’s vision and Mahindra’s commitment, India could well start an electric vehicle revolution…
Then in 2015, the big corporate arm of Mahindra took over.
Mr Chetan Maini left Mahindra Reva. He was replaced by Mr Arvind Mathew, former managing director of Ford in India.
This for me was a strange move. Why would you let go of a visionary in Mr Chetan Maini who is passionate about electric vehicles and appoint a guy who has worked with ICE based cars all along?
With this change, all the work and promise showcased by Mr Maini in 2014 were gradually reversed.
Mahindra - the corporate entity took over!
During the 2016 Auto Expo, Mahindra Reva rebranded as ‘Mahindra Electric’ showcased the Verito Electric Sedan which we saw 2 years back in 2014, The Supro Electric and the e2o Sports car! There was no sign of the Halo or DC Quick Charge stations or any sign of the word ‘Reva’!
While the eSupro was a good development, the e2o Sports car was a disappointment.
If they absolutely wanted a sports car, they could have invested time and money in the development of Halo, which was showcased back in 2014.
By 2016 they could have a finished Halo and it could have been ready for export. And the EU and American market would prefer a sports car like Halo than this boxy e2o sports thing.
The Halo could have been sold in India too.
Just imagine a Halo in Indian roads. It would have raised the profile of electric cars and Mahindra Electric by several notches.
I feel, Mahindra wanted to let go of Mr Chetan Maini’s vision and do their own thing.
A bad move in my opinion.
So its almost 2017 now and what do we have here?
- The quirky looking 2 door e2o is not sold anymore.
- Mahindra have made a more corporate and boxy looking e2o Plus, which is more practical.
- The eSupro cargo and passenger van are good additions. But the pricing is absolutely ridiculous. I’m going to make another episode of PluginIndia Musings just to vent my frustrations on the eSupro pricing!
- There is no news on DC Quickcharge stations installed nor have the DC quickCharge Ports been made available for e2o users.
- The EV community honestly believe that installing few QC stations between important cities could have really enabled Mahindra Electric to sell more number of electric cars. At this point Mahindra have left that to the Government and we all know that is going to take a lot of time.
I dont understand, why Mahindra did not pursue this. I know this costs money, but aren’t they playing a long term game here?
When you are selling a paradigm changing car, you gotta have paradigm changing support to get people to make that paradigm change. Sadly Mahindra have been in denial regarding QC stations.
They even backtracked on offering the DC QC port upgrade package for e2o users. Back in 2014, Mr Chetan Maini tweeted PluginIndia, saying that the DC QuickChargePort is backward compatible with older e2os. I show you the tweet here. But once Mr Maini left, this demand of DC QC port upgrade package by e2o owners was quickly brushed aside by Mahindra Electric.
The reason they gave was that its technically complex to fit a port. Are you kidding me?
We all know that this was a corporate decision not a technical challenge.
This episode has really made many people in the community if Mahindra truly has best interests of promoting electric vehicles.
Nevertheless, Mahindra Electric have been EV Community friendly and answer our queries regularly. They have been supporting EV community in our EV rallies. They have also supported us with charge point database while we were developing the Re:ChargeIndia mobile app.
If you don’t have the app, download it now! The mobile app will show you the nearest charge point around your location.
Overall the service center experience has been good, but there are people who are not happy with Mahindra Electric’s service.
I for once have no issues with the service center. They are knowledgeable and do a good job, whenever i leave my car for service.
Let me end this PodCast but talking about what, many people in the Indian EV community feels.
Mahindra Electric needs to publish a vision for the up-coming 1-2 years like Tesla does and work on realizing that vision. The community especially in Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru have taken the electric cars outside cities installing charging points on their own. We call them Community Charge Points. Please check our website for more information on these and the ReChargeIndia app. More support from Mahindra regarding charging infrastructure would have convinced more people to go electric.
Also the community feels, Mahindra Electric took too long to get the 4 door electric car. For almost 3 and half years the e2o was the only electric car being sold and there were very few upgrades offered to e2o customers. e2o Customers almost felt that the RnD team was just pulled out of making any upgrades be it software or hardware upgrades.
Mahindra Electric will need stop thinking like a ICE car company and start thinking like a tech company. They will need to offer frequent updates to their customers, and publish a roadmap to the community every year and work towards realizing it.
Nevertheless, It is a proud feeling that a major Indian auto maker is offering real EV's to the Indian market. While other Indian companies like Maruti / Tata keep minting money launching antiquated ICE engine products that do more harm than good. Its very credible that Mahindra showcases EVs. That, we here at PluginIndia appreciate.
EV’s are the future and Mahindra Electric has the first mover advantage. Its about time, they showcase a plan and work towards realizing that vision.
Let me know what you think? What could Mahindra have done better over the last 6-7 years?
Do comment below. We read every comment!
And let me know what you feel about this new series - “PluginIndia Musings”. Every suggestion and feedback is taken seriously and is appreciated!
Thank you and have a great new year!