Mahindra’s Electric Vehicle programs largely unaffected by COVID-19

While the Electric Vehicle movement is at an infancy stage in India and needs support from all quarters to stay alive, the COVID-19 lockdown and the subsequent the fall in oil prices and the destabilization of the global economy will be big hurdles for electric vehicles in the short-term. Dr Pawan Goenka, Managing Director of Mahindra, recently talked about the issue with ETAuto when asked how the COVID-19 and low crude oil prices has impacted the EV development in India:

Firstly, the low oil prices certainly make the business case for EVs but crude oil prices will not have much effect in India. Globally, auto companies are talking about investing multi-billion dollars in EV development. My guess is large companies will find it difficult to justify the huge investments in EVs for a little while and therefore those EV platforms that have been developed make it deferred somewhat.

In India, the second concern of the COVID-19 impact on EV development is not a big one because the kinds of cost that we are incurring in India are not very high. I’m not talking about platforms developed outside India and brought here. Indian companies that are working on electric vehicles perhaps can afford to continue the work.

In Mahindra, we have not cancelled any EV program because of the current crisis. We are still working on all the things that we have talked about in the past. But the customer acceptability may come down a little bit because of the oil prices coming down and also because right now everybody wants to focus on what is proven, reliable and known, and not take chances with something new.

So I would have to say that if anything, there might be a bit of setback in the EV movement, perhaps less in India as India is behind the curve anyway. But for those who are ahead in the curve, the curve may slow down.

Mahindra’s upcoming electric vehicles

Mahindra’s first EV launch in 2020 would be the eKUV100, tagged as the most affordable electric car in India with a price tag of Rs 8.25 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, as announced in February at the Auto Expo. The eKUV100 is being targeted not only at the shared mobility segment but also towards personal car owners who need a city runabout. Mahindra’s first electric quadricycle, the Atom is also lined up for a launch this year as an environment-friendly shared mobility solution for last-mile connectivity.

The shared mobility economy is going to feel the brunt of the impact as the Coronavirus has induced social distancing which is here to stay until maybe a cure for the virus is found and available widely. At a time when people are trying to limit contact with others and surfaces in shared environments, cab aggregators and car sharing services could see a big drop in demand once the economy reopens.

Mahindra eXUV300, the company’s first long-range EV, may be somewhat shielded from these effects for two reasons: it will be launched in mid-2021 when India is expected to be close to a full recovery, and secondly it is targeted at not shared mobility but personal car buyers with a range of over 370 km in a single charge. This will be Mahindra’s first car to be built on the MESMA platform, which was developed completely in-house as a high-voltage and high-performance electric platform for affordable long-range electric vehicles.

You can catch our video walkarounds of the two electric SUVs from their presentations at the Auto Expo to get a good look at their exterior and interior.

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