In this episode we will talk about Mahindra Electric’s grand return with electric SUV offerings.
Is Mahindra playing the EV game just like a typical BIG ICE car manufacturer? They announce grandiose EV plans to the media but ensure that the reality plays out just like they want?
Are you ready?
Let’s understand what Mahindra revealed at their event. They revealed their electric car platform called the INGLO and five SUV models that will use the platform. INGLO stands for Indian innovation at heart with a global reach. The platform has the following features.
- Modular scalable design that allows variable vehicle lengths, widths, and wheelbases
- LFP chemistry based designs using two cell architectures - Blade and Prismatic.
- Battery packs with capacities of 60-80 kWh packs with high charge discharge cycles.
- 175 kW Fast Charge - 80% in less than 30 minutes
- Compact drivetrain with Motor, Transmission, Invertor, Controller integrated in a single unit
- High Voltage platform
- Designed Global N-Cap 5 star rating
The platform is key for all electric car manufacturers. Volkswagen designed the MEB platform for its ID-branded vehicles. Hyundai showed us the E-GMP platform. Tata showed us the Pure EV Architecture with the Avinya unveil, and now Mahindra has shown us their platform and it is called INGLO.
The modular EV platform is nowadays referred to as a skateboard. All the important bits are combined into one unit and then the body is fitted. The skateboard is suitable for multiple types of cars: a 2-seater, a 5-passenger SUV, or even a pickup truck. Such simplicity also helps lower production costs, which is the key to profitability. Without the need to find a place for an engine, transmission, radiator, exhaust system, and driveshaft, there is a lot more room for people and their stuff inside, so electric cars feel more spacious even if they are the same size as traditional models on the outside.
Mahindra did not mention the system voltage of the INGLO platform. They did say it will support. It certainly looks like Mahindra have abandoned their low voltage platform called MESMA, which we saw at the 2018 auto expo. Looking at the features of INGLO, I would say it is well ahead of Tata Motor's Ziptron platform. Ultimately Tata's PURE EV architecture will be competing with INGLO and it remains to be seen who among Tata and Mahindra will launch the first electric car on these platforms.
One interesting thing that Mahindra has got right strategically is their partnership with Volkswagen, where they have signed an agreement to explore the use of components from VW’s MEB modular electric car platform in Mahindra’s electric vehicles. The Volkswagen MEB platform has been in production for a few years already with the ID-3, ID-4 electric cars. VW’s MEB was designed from the outset as an ‘open’ vehicle platform, which means it was intended for use by other manufacturers. As such, it is scalable and very flexible for use in a variety of applications. This will benefit Mahindra greatly as they won’t have to recreate components and thus have access to VW’s production ready components.
Mahindra & Software?
The corporate suits at Mahindra went on to talk about the onboard computers, display systems in the platform which are heavily software driven with features like high performance computers, embedded 5G Network capability, over the air updates, an Edge to Edge vista screen display for interacting with the software, Augmented Reality heads up display, and Voice commands.
Let’s be honest. We are talking about Mahindra here, who are essentially a car company and not a tech company. All of these software driven drivetrains will be new territory for Mahindra and no major details on software investments was disclosed in this event. I personally have first hand experience on how Mahindra abandoned any software development or updates for my e2o electric car. And it's not like this was always the case. Take Kamlesh, the founder of PII and one of the 1st e2o owners in India. His blog records how he used to take his car in for software updates back in 2013. But soon after, Mahindra stopped all updates and did not even bother to fix issues or remote monitor electric cars in the field. We still have hundreds of disconnected Mahindra electric cars on the road. With this kind of track record, do you expect me to believe anything Mahindra says regarding software? Unless the management shows a plan for how they are going to tackle software within the company, I will remain skeptical.
Regarding vehicles, Mahindra showcased 5 SUV monstrosities that will arrive only after 2024. All the five models shown are large sized SUV's. The efficiency on highways would be close to 250-300 wH/km which will scare away both people like me who crave efficiency and regular SUV drivers who crave power and performance. But Mahindra are SUV kings, and it’s normal that they will continue to create these monstrosities in the EV world. And yeah Mahindra will launch one XUV 400 electric SUV with the old gen platform with deliveries supposedly starting in early 2023. But then why would you buy this car when, 2 years later, you can get INGLO platform cars? In my honest opinion, this limited launch of the XUV 400 electric SUV is just a way of greenwashing for Mahindra to shut people up for the next 3 years.
Business as usual for Mahindra
But here is how Mahindra plans to NOT disrupt their ICE vehicle business anytime soon. Essentially they will launch one electric SUV each year after 2024 on the INGLO platform. By 2027 they may have 4 or 5 electric cars in their portfolio while continuing to launch oil guzzling SUVs and continuing the never ending updates to their XUV, Thar, and other pollution SUV’s. This way they will continue to have 10-15 ICE models and variants and 4-5 EV’s and their business won’t get disrupted. They will continue to push their oil guzzlers.
If you want a demonstration of how to drop the ball hard, look no further than what Mahindra has done since 2010. They bought the Reva from Chetan Maini and killed it. They got rid of key processes, personnel and technology that was needed to take care of their customers. Chetan Maini announced the Halo electric car and Mahindra killed it. They announced the eKUV and killed it. Is there any doubt as to the fate of the new line up of EV’s that has been announced? The fact that the first real EV will be released not this year, not next year but two years from now should give you all the clues you need.
You can expect all of this from Mahindra electric
- You can expect artificially inflated pricing to keep EV numbers low, just like what they did with the e2o Plus P8 which was sold at 12 lakhs and the eVerito which was sold at more than 11 lakhs.
- You can expect no EV’s under Rs 10 lakh price. Having an EV at around 7-8 lakhs will disrupt their ICE SUV business, and they will absolutely ensure nothing of that sort happens.
- You can expect the same awful experience at dealerships where the priority will be given to selling pollution SUVs as they bring in the service revenue.
- You can expect the same old dealership greed by fleecing EV customers and charging crazy amounts for electronic parts.
- You can expect substandard service experience at Mahindra’s dealerships with uninformed service reps
You read my take on the event, now let's suss out the mood of electric car owners who watched Mahindra’s event video.
Mr Zarryl Lobo
Mr Zarryl Lobo shares his thoughts on Mahindra's EV 'vision' after watching their video
Mr KV Suresh shares his thoughts on Mahindra's EV 'vision' after watching their video
Mr Kamlesh shares his thoughts on Mahindra's EV 'vision' after watching their video
Thanks for reading/watching. Do write in the comments below your thoughts on Mahindra’s EV vision, the announced, and the INGLO platform. Are you disappointed? Are you excited for the launch of the XUV 400 electric SUV this year or will you wait for INGLO platform cars?