Mahin­dra Elec­tric to con­duct more pi­lot projects for E-mo­bil­ity

Auto components India - - COVER STORY - Story by: Sricha­ran R

Mahin­dra Elec­tric, part of the Mahin­dra Group, plans to con­duct more pi­lot projects across the coun­try to learn how to op­ti­mise and add more value to its cus­tomers in the seg­ment. The Ban­ga­lore head­quar­tered com­pany, re­cently signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MoU) with Auroville, an ex­per­i­men­tal town­ship near Pondicherry. After ac­quir­ing Reva Elec­tric Car Com­pany in May 2010, Mahin­dra Elec­tric launched the elec­tric hatch­back e2o in 2013. Now, the com­pany sells elec­tric ve­hi­cles in dif­fer­ent seg­ments that in­clude Ci­tyS­mart hatch­back e2oPlus, elec­tric sedan eVer­ito, and elec­tric com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle eSupro. “We will be do­ing more such pi­lots. With the learnings from the first pi­lot project, we will an­nounce mul­ti­ple prod­ucts based on scal­a­bil­ity in the com­ing years. We have not planned any­thing spe­cific to South In­dia. But, this is go­ing to be a learn­ing right now on how we can be a part of a smart city eco-sys­tem and on how we link mo­bil­ity with power gen­er­a­tion, sus­tain­able en­ergy, and app-based connectivity. For the ini­tial pi­lot project, we are not look­ing at any fund­ing. On later stages, based on the learnings we may do that,” Ma­hesh Babu, CEO, Mahin­dra Elec­tric, told Au­toCom­po­nents In­dia.

Re­cently, the com­pany show­cased its soft­ware in­te­gra­tion plat­form NEMO and un­veiled its en­ergy stor­age so­lu­tion. The app NEMO, Next-Gen­er­a­tion Mo­bil­ity, is a cloud-based plat­form that en­ables shared, con­nected and elec­tric

ser­vices. It helps to ad­dress the bar­ri­ers of adop­tion of EVs such as range, bat­tery per­for­mance, and pro­vides deeper in­sights into the ve­hi­cle per­for­mance. Be­ing a cloud-based sys­tem, the com­pany has no connectivity or se­cu­rity prob­lems. It gives them connectivity across the globe with lots of flex­i­bil­ity and free­dom, par­tic­u­larly in au­to­mo­bile sec­tors.

About the new app, Babu said, all the cars they sell are con­nected via a GSM sim. “NEMO gives us in­sights into bat­tery life, how the cus­tomers are driv­ing etc. This data help the users to op­ti­mise en­ergy. How we are op­ti­mis­ing en­ergy, so­lar gen­er­a­tion from our stor­age to charg­ing the car and to the grid is the first key learn­ing we are look­ing at. Sec­ond, what will be the type of mo­bil­ity needs of a com­mu­nity and how we can ad­dress them through op­ti­mum prod­uct and ser­vice, thus bring­ing in mul­ti­ple so­lu­tions. This learn­ing helps us make the prod­uct more suit­able to cus­tomer needs.”

“There is al­ways an ap­pre­hen­sion to cus­tomers about what would hap­pen to the bat­tery after a pe­riod of time. To­day, we have 100 cars that have crossed 1 lakh-plus km. and, 10 cars that have cov­ered al­most 1.75 lakh km. We have the data and the cars are run­ning still. Run­ning 2 lakh km is some­thing mag­i­cal that is dif­fi­cult even with a diesel en­gine. This brings in huge con­fi­dence for us and for our cus­tomers. By connectivity, you can pre­dict if some­thing is wrong and this makes it run longer. For ex­am­ple, if one owns a fleet of cars and they do not charge prop­erly, we send a mail with the data and ad­vise them. Most of the cus­tomers that Mahin­dra Elec­tric gets are re­peat or re­fer­ral cus­tomers,” he said. The elec­tric car com­pany feels that after the 2017 Niti Aayog re­port and the gov­ern­ment’s push for all-elec­tric have cre­ated an in­ter­est among cus­tomers, in­vestors and oth­ers. On the push for e-ve­hi­cles and re­new­able en­ergy, the CEO said, “We were the only one to push e-mo­bil­ity. The gov­ern­ment’s idea to make all-elec­tric has helped us and now ev­ery­body is be­liev­ing it. The gov­ern­ment has started to buy elec­tric ve­hi­cles for its own fleet. The sup­plier com­mu­nity is en­er­gised now and go­ing for­ward, ev­ery­body will look into it. Ear­lier get­ting re­new­able en­ergy was unique. Now, it has be­come a global prob­lem, and many have started im­ple­ment­ing re­new­able en­ergy pro­grammes. About 25% of what we use is re­new­able en­ergy and we have re­cently in­creased the ca­pac­ity through so­lar. We also have plans to buy so­lar en­ergy from farms and this will make us sus­tain­able.”

Speak­ing about sus­tain­abil­ity, Babu said that the com­pany has de­cided to re­duce car­bon foot­print in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. He said that the e2o plus was made in a sus­tain­able way. “We do not have a paint shop. The colour is pre-im­preg­nated, and we do not paint at all. This is be­cause we do not want to cre­ate more pol­lu­tion in mak­ing the car,” he said.

Go­ing for­ward and look­ing at the fu­ture he said that the com­pany is fo­cus­ing on three main agenda: clean, con­nected and con­ve­nient. The e-ve­hi­cle com­pany also have plan to bring au­tonomous ve­hi­cles but believes that it will come at a later stage. “Au­tonomous might come in by 2040-50 and will play a ma­jor role. We will start once we have achieved the first three fo­cus points. It will hap­pen but will take a lot of time as we have to bring in bet­ter traf­fic man­age­ment sys­tem, dis­ci­plined driv­ing etc. There is a high pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing it within a cam­pus and at present, we are not pri­ori­tis­ing it,” Babu said.

Ma­hesh Babu - CEO, Mahin­dra Elec­tric and Min­haj Ameen, Co­or­di­na­tor - In­te­grated Trans­port Ser­vices, Auroville

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