China’s SAIC-owned British brand Morris Garages (MG), which launched its first vehicle, the mid-size Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) M G Hector, in India in mid-2019, will launch its first electric vehicle MG ZS SUV on December 5, 2019. The company plans to create an ecosystem to support the electric vehicle. Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commercial Officer of MG Motor India, speaks to T E Narasimhan, about the company's views on Indian EV market and the company's plans. Edited excerpts:
How bullish you are about the adoption of EVs in India?
The adoption of EVs is inevitable in India over the long term. EVs will continue to be a niche category in the short-term owing to weak infrastructure for charging and high acquisition price. However, MG as a brand is not waiting for the infrastructure to be created, rather it is looking to pioneer the electric vehicle ecosystem in India through various charging partners ahead of the launch of our first EV – the MG ZS, on December 5, 2019.
Do you think India is on the right track when it comes to EV?
I do feel so, yes, it is on the right path. The government is focusing more on electrifying public modes of transport and we hope that there would be subsidies for private buyers too in the coming years. A lot of the credit has to go to the government for its focus on promoting EV adoption. Recent policy changes in BS-VI, tax relief of Rs 150,000 lakh on purchase of EVs, and FAME II have underscored its commitment to have more electric vehicles on the road by 2030. We are also working on creating a robust and well-integrated ecosystem for battery charging infrastructure and for battery reuse and recycling – to further bolster EV adoption among Indian consumers.
What needs to be done to accelerate growth?
The future growth trajectory for the Indian EV market will depend on the strength of the EV infrastructure available, as well as the level of awareness about the need for EV adoption. Indian youth is not just aware of critical societal issues but is also more willing to take the initiative to address these challenges.
We also need more policies and regulations that provide tax breaks and financial assistance to both EV manufacturers and customers. Doing so will encourage EV adoption by bringing down the cost to the end-consumer, thus incentivising more individuals to purchase an EV. I also feel that we need better support infrastructure for the manufacture of vehicles and auxiliary parts within the country; this will bolster local economic growth and job creation, apart from strengthening the supply chain.
Developing a strong EV support ecosystem should also be a priority to help the EV industry unlock the next phase of its growth.
How MG is preparing for EV story in India?
MG Motor India is in the vanguard of India’s march towards an EV-driven future and aims to act as a catalyst for driving adoption of EVs in India, through the upcoming MG ZS EV. The future of mobility is both electric and connected. We are readying ourselves for the market launch of ZS EV, India’s first internet electric car, and have already created an entire ecosystem around this product. For instance, we have partnered with domain-leading players such as Fortum and Delta Electronics to cater to the fast and slow charging segment, respectively. We have also associated with other players such as Exicom and eChargeBays for charging and sustainable battery recycling solutions.
Unlike other OEs, MG is also setting up charging infrastructure. What is the strategy?
Our primary objective is to deliver an unsurpassed ownership experience to all MG ZS EV customers across India. This can only be achieved if we can ensure a seamless and hassle-free charging experience for them, whether at their homes, their offices, or nearby locations. Our partnerships with leading EV charging and clean energy companies is aimed at removing the biggest hurdle to EV adoption – that of inadequate charging infrastructure. We are open to partnering with PSUs and private sector companies to further strengthen our pan-India EV ecosystem.
Will you be able to produce EVs in India to become cost-competitive and when can it happen?
It is too early to comment on the local production of EVs. As of now, the volumes of EVs do not justify local production. It also depends on the local supply chain and the availability of components in India. We will wait and watch how this segment pans out and take a decision on this at a later stage.
How much you are planning to invest in the next 2-3 years?
We have already announced an overall investment of Rs 5,000 crore during a 3-4 years horizon. Over Rs 2,200 crore has already been invested in the Halol plant and for the rollout of our first product, MG Hector.
Which segments wlll be MG's focus?
Our focus, in India, is on the SUV segment. Both our India products, the Hector and the upcoming ZS EV, are SUVs. We are also focusing strongly on the electric mobility segment and will be looking to introduce more EVs in the market to cater to multiple sub-groups.