NEW DELHI: Tata Motors unveiled two electric sport utility vehicles on Wednesday as India’s largest EV maker rushes to extend its lead in a hotly contested sector.
A new electric SUV called Sierra and an electric variant of the auto major’s popular SUV Harrier were introduced on the first day of India’s biggest motor show. An electric vehicle concept called Avinya, which means innovation in Sanskrit, also was showcased. It will hit the streets by 2025.
These launches pave the way for Tata Motors to build a robust electric fleet that will account for one-fourth of its portfolio by 2025 and 50% by 2030, said Sailesh Chandra, managing director of Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility.
“The transition to electric mobility will happen much faster than we had anticipated,” said N Chandrasekaran, executive chairman at conglomerate Tata Sons. The company aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the passenger car division by 2040, followed by the commercial vehicle business in 2045, he said.
Tata Motors, which trails Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor in overall Indian car sales, has set a target of selling 50,000 electric cars for the fiscal year ending in March.
Tata has been an early mover in India’s fledgling EV segment, where two-wheelers have blazed a trail ahead of cars. Four-wheelers accounted for only 3.9% of the electric vehicles sold in India in fiscal 2022, research firm CEEW-Center for Energy Finance reports.
The company raised 75 billion rupees (US$916 million) from private equity firm TPG and Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ in 2021 for its EV subsidiary, valuing the entity at US$9.1 billion.
Despite its funding, Tata Motors faces strong competition from global automakers that are speeding into India with electric vehicles. New Delhi has announced incentives so that by 2030, EVs make up 70% of sales of commercial cars and trucks, 30% of private cars, 40% of buses and 80% of two- and three-wheelers.
India has cut taxes on electric cars and introduced two subsidy programmes, trying to clean up the notoriously polluted streets in some of the country’s sprawling cities and hit its 2070 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal.
One subsidy is a package of nearly 260 billion rupees rolling out from 2022 to 2027 to spur local production of vehicles powered by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells. The other is a programme worth around 180 billion rupees to boost local battery production.
Among the global automakers betting on India’s electrics market are South Korea’s Hyundai, which launched its Ioniq 5 EV at the auto show, and Chinese EV maker BYD, which said on Wednesday that its electric sedan Seal will launch in India later this year. India’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, unveiled the concept version of its first electric vehicle.
While carmakers such as Hyundai and BYD have positioned their electrics as premium offerings priced north of US$30,000, Tata Motors has launched cars with price tags as low as US$10,000. The electric variant of its Tiago model is India’s cheapest.
Tata Motors is also exploring other clean-fuel options such as compressed natural gas to build an environmentally friendly fleet, reflected in the launch of CNG variants of the Altroz hatchback and Punch SUV.