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EVs Will Get More Efficient: Mahindra Electric CEO Mahesh Babu

May 10, 2019

Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd vehicles completed 100 million e-kilometres in mid-January. Mahesh Babu, CEO, Mahindra Electric, speaks about the present and future of electric cars in India. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are the main challenges in encouraging people to go electric?

First is the charging infrastructure. Even though we don’t drive more than 50-100km a day, even if I give a range of 140km (on a fully-charged battery), it’s still a challenge. Second is the ecosystem and awareness. It has been proved that 80% of the charging happens at home and the rest depends on public infrastructure. Yet, people don’t move quickly unless public facilities come. Third, even if our cars are high on initial cost but low on operative cost, decisions (to buy) are made on the initial cost.

Is the environmental benefit of using an electric car significantly greater than that of a conventional fuel-driven one?

Today in India, a kilometre of running on electric—well-to-wheel—emits less carbon dioxide than conventional vehicles by 20% because electric vehicles are four times more efficient. If India’s target of being 30% more sustainable by 2030 is on track, the above percentage will come close to 30-40% by 2030. Cleaner air will reduce healthcare costs.

What are the joys and pain points of driving an electric car in India?

When you drive, you realize it’s got no gears, so it’s comparable to an automatic car. For many fleet cars, the biggest benefit is that the noise due to being electric is so low that their fatigue from driving has come down. People give you respect because you have gone sustainable. You don’t depend on fuel price fluctuation. Servicing an electric car is much cheaper—there is no oil change, filter change, etc.