Tata Motors, India’s largest electric car maker, is testing its electric vehicles in a number of global markets where it could consider a possible launch if the experiment is successful, its executive told Reuters.
The testing is at an early stage and based on how the cars perform, Tata may have to make some changes to the product before it can finalize and develop a go to market strategy, Shailesh Chandra said in an interview.
“It’s about which markets I should be active in, with which products and with what kind of distribution strategy. We assess a number of markets, run our cars and discuss with business partners,” he said.
Chandra said it was too early to discuss details about export markets and that there would be more clarity next year.
Tata also plans to roll out new car dealerships in a number of Indian cities that will sell only electric cars in the coming quarters as sales of its clean cars gain momentum and faster launches of new electric models are planned, Chandra said.
Electric car sales have grown globally as stricter emissions regulations push automakers to increase the share of electric cars in their portfolios. While Tesla still leads the EV race, Chinese rivals like BYD are catching up with new factories and aggressive exports.
Tata Motors, which already sells three EV models, launched its fourth electric car in New Delhi on Thursday – a new version of its Nexon electric SUV with a starting price of Rs. 1.5 million, which can drive 465 kilometers on one battery charge.
The EV manufacturer has a share of more than 80 percent in the Indian electric car market, which is small but growing and where it competes with China’s MG Motor and its own Mahindra & Mahindra. Tesla is also eyeing a factory in India and is in talks with the government to build a car worth $24,000 (nearly Rs. 20 lakh).
Electric models accounted for about 2 percent of total car sales in India (3.9 million) last fiscal year and the government aims to grow this to 30 percent by 2030.
The Mumbai-based carmaker has said it plans to have 10 electric cars in its portfolio over the next three to four years, with electric cars accounting for 25 percent of total car sales by 2025. Chandra said the company is on track to achieve its goals. including plans to sell around 1,00,000 electric vehicles in the current fiscal year.
Growing sales and the new Nexon EV have become the catalyst for the plan to launch electric-only dealerships, Chandra said.
“It won’t be a pan-India rollout, it will be a progressive rollout. We want to fully understand the implications of an exclusive outlet versus what we were selling with the existing outlets,” Chandra said.
Tata has a nationwide dealer network for its petrol and diesel cars, through which it currently also sells its electric vehicles. Chandra said the rollout of new EV outlets would take place in small and big cities depending on the current network of dealers.
Tata’s ability to ramp up production of its electric cars and launch new electric car models at a faster pace will also support its plan for new dealers, who can now offer a broader portfolio, making them more viable, Chandra said.
“Previously the bigger problem was our lack of demand assessment… today we are very well prepared for a faster increase,” he said.