India’s Mahindra Group CEO on electric vehicles

Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra expects half the vehicles it would sell by 2030 to be electric, the company’s managing director and CEO told CNBC on Friday.

The market for battery-powered vehicles in India is still at a nascent stage. For example, India’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, does not sell an electric vehicle at the moment, citing the current high costs associated with owning one.

“Electric vehicles in India are, I would say, a few years behind some of the other countries, largely because of the fact that in India, it’s difficult to provide incentives for cars — it’s a luxury item,” Anish Shah said during a panel at CNBC’s Sustainable Future Forum.

As most Indians do not own cars, providing subsidies or lower taxes to encourage switching to electric cars is unlikely to work the same way as it would in other countries, Shah explained. Plus, a lot of the incentives available are comparatively lower than what other countries are offering for the switch. “That will result in a slower adoption but at the same time, it’s here to stay,” he said.

India is also a cost-conscious market where people tend to opt for cheaper options. That means the cost of owning an electric car has to be on par with or cheaper than owning a combustion-powered car.

Factors that can drive EV adoption

Expectations from COP26

The move toward electric vehicles is part of global efforts to combat climate change.

World leaders and environmentalists will be meeting in Glasgow, Scotland — from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 — in a bid to hash out a climate change deal at the COP26 climate change conference.

When asked what Shah expects from policymakers he said they need to step up their support in the development and deployment of new technologies that can reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere at a faster pace.

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