Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Sales & Cus­tomer Care, Au­to­mo­tive Divi­sion, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - In­ter­view by: Bhar­gav TS

Vee­jay Nakra, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Sales & Cus­tomer Care – Au­to­mo­tive Divi­sion, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra

Go­ing Elec­tric Q. What is your in­dus­try out­look? A.

The sen­ti­ments are pos­i­tive and things are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. We have a full year for the new prod­ucts that we have launched. The first quar­ter growth is mainly due to that. The mon­soon is look­ing good, and the sen­ti­ments, in the ur­ban as well as ru­ral ar­eas are good. The re­al­i­sa­tion of this will how­ever start kick­ing in to­wards the third quar­ter. The sec­ond half of this year will be stronger there­fore. Cur­rently, the M&HCV seg­ments are grow­ing, and we hope the LCV seg­ment will also ex­pe­ri­ence a strong growth. If the in­fra­struc­ture ex­pands, M&HCV growth will be fol­lowed by LCV growth. We will see the ben­e­fit of both, in­fra­struc­ture and a good mon­soon. The two will help in re­viv­ing the LCV seg­ment in the com­ing months.

Q. At Mahin­dra, the em­pha­sis on elec­tric ve­hi­cles seems to be grow­ing. What do you hope to achieve? A.

We are look­ing at mak­ing mul­ti­ple driv­e­train fuel op­tions avail­able to cus­tomers. It is there­fore not just about diesel and petrol. We are look­ing at CNG fuel for cer­tain prod­ucts, and at elec­tric ve­hi­cles for cer­tain ap­pli­ca­tions. We were the first in In­dia to ac­quire a com­pany that pro­vides elec­tric (mo­bil­ity) so­lu­tions. We have the e20 and a few other prod­ucts from this busi­ness arm. We are now look­ing at cre­at­ing elec­tric so­lu­tions in many plat­forms. The Mahin­dra Supro is the first prod­uct in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory. We are work­ing on many other ex­ist­ing prod­ucts and plat­forms to pro­vide elec­tric so­lu­tions.

Q. How hope­ful are you of elec­tric or CNG in­fra­struc­ture to come up sooner than later? A.

The man­u­fac­tur­ers as well as SIAM are work­ing on it. They are also talk­ing to the gov­ern­ment. There is very good re­al­i­sa­tion in the coun­try, and the gov­ern­ment is ac­tively work­ing to­wards cre­at­ing the right en­vi­ron­ment. And, it is not just about CNG or LPG, but also about elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy. Elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy will boom with the progress in bat­tery tech­nol­ogy that would al­low for longer drives and quicker charg­ing. Man­u­fac­tur­ers in many coun­tries are work­ing on such tech­nolo­gies. Clean tech­nolo­gies are go­ing to be the fu­ture of our in­dus­try. Any new pol­icy or frame­work takes time. The good part is the frame­work the gov­ern­ment has come up with that gives use a road map till 2020. It is a pos­i­tive sign.

Q. Con­sid­er­ing the re­quire­ments of CVs, how do you think elec­tric tech­nol­ogy can play a role? A.

If you look at the cur­rent lim­i­ta­tions of tech­nol­ogy, it may not be pos­si­ble. How­ever, the speed at which tech­nol­ogy is devel­op­ing in elec­tric ve­hi­cles, we can see it com­ing in Small Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles (SCV). For it to come in Heavy Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles (HCVs) will take longer. For HCVs, the torque level has to be higher. Also, it would de­pend

on the load HCVs carry and the ter­rain they travel over.

Q. Apart from an elec­tric ver­sion of Supro, which other CVs could we look at in the elec­tric form? A.

We are cur­rently look­ing at pas­sen­ger seg­ment. We there­fore launched the Supro elec­tric pas­sen­ger ver­sion. Over a pe­riod of time we will bring elec­tric ver­sions of other ve­hi­cles too. In In­dia, cus­tomers usu­ally over­load their ve­hi­cle. The chal­lenge is not about pow­er­ing the ve­hi­cle for rated load ca­pac­ity, but about fac­tor­ing in the amount of over­load­ing, or its na­ture. That is our main chal­lenge. We will there­fore ini­tially think of elec­tric ve­hi­cles for car­ry­ing peo­ple only. Such ve­hi­cles are sel­dom over­loaded.

Q. How chal­leng­ing it is to de­velop an elec­tric goods car­rier? A.

There are a few things that have to be kept in mind. The need for charg­ing sta­tions for ex­am­ple. The owner of a ve­hi­cle for cap­tive use knows when and how long the ve­hi­cle will be run­ning. He can ac­cord­ingly charge the ve­hi­cle. For mar­ket load ap­pli­ca­tion, the driver will not know when he will get his trip, or for how long he has to drive. The need for charg­ing sta­tions en-route is there­fore es­sen­tial. An­other big chal­lenge is the higher ini­tial costs. The run­ning cost or the op­er­at­ing cost of an elec­tric ve­hi­cle is low, but the ini­tial costs are high. Look­ing at the pro­file of buy­ers in the CV seg­ment, it is def­i­nitely a chal­lenge about con­vinc­ing them to buy a prod­uct. In fact, the main chal­lenge is to make the propo­si­tion vi­able for a per­son to buy the prod­uct.

Q. What new are you bring­ing to the mar­ket in CVs? A.

We are strong in LCVs where we op­er­ate in a niche seg­ment. Our num­bers speak, and we are grow­ing much faster than our com­peti­tors in the seg­ment are. As far as the bus seg­ment is con­cerned, it is about cowlchas­sis. The bus plat­form is adapted to the cowl-chas­sis. Our team is ac­tively work­ing on it.

“We are now look­ing at cre­at­ing elec­tric so­lu­tions in many plat­forms”.

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