At the recent launch of the updated Tata Harrier and Tata Safari, Tata Motors MD Shailesh Chandra talked about the need for government actions to improve the country’s charging stations for electric vehicles. He also shared insights about the company’s future products and plans.
Shailesh Chandra during an interview with Moneycontrol stressed the need for the government to install more fast-charging stations, especially along highways. He points out that this is not only beneficial for EV users but also creates an additional source of income for OMCs. Although the government had set a target of 22,000 chargers for OMCs to install, progress in this area has been slow. Chandra mentions that Tata Power has made significant efforts, but it’s not sufficient by itself. Additionally, Chandra highlights that there are no existing regulations mandating residential complexes and housing societies to provide shared charging points for electric vehicles. He suggests that addressing this gap in regulations is necessary to further promote EV adoption at the residential level. The recently updated Harrier and Safari SUVs comes with advanced ADAS technology, but their engines are unchanged, and they don’t offer all-wheel drive. However, Chandra explained that very few people are interested in 4×4 technology. He prefers to invest in electric technology, which will make up half of the brand’s sales for electric cars for passengers by 2030.
He further says,
“With the upcoming Harrier EV, I can look at providing all options for consumers, including a 4×4 option. I’m sure there will be demand for that in the segment. Investing in 4×4 technology for an ICE vehicle is not feasible in the long term. We’d rather focus on the future,”
Tata’s latest products are based old Land Rover platform. To make electric SUVs with all-wheel drive, they would need to install a dual-motor system. This setup involves having separate motors for each wheel axle. Currently, Tata’s electric vehicles, like the Nexon and the Tiago EV, use a single-motor setup.
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THE GEN 2 EV PLATFORM
The Nexon and Tiago EVs, though, are built on the older Gen 1 foundation. Tata doesn’t plan to use this platform for more electric vehicles. Their next product, coming out by this year or by next year, will be the first one built on the new Gen 2 platform, which, among other benefits, offers a longer driving range. The upcoming EV is an electrified version of Tata’s compact SUV. However, still product name is not revealed because of the significant modifications being made to the product. Shailesh Chandra did not confirm whether they’ll improve the car’s aerodynamics to extend its range, but that’s one of the main ways electric car makers make their vehicles go as far as possible. Lot of up- do date electric motors, advanced features and entertainment options which where tested in Tata Nexon EV can be included in Tata Punch, as Shailesh Chandra was of the opinion that people like to spend more time in their electric cars while they are recharging.
He further said that,
”With Gen 2, the primary benefit is range. We can package prismatic cells, and Gen 1 is better suited to cylindrical cells because it can be squeezed into small crevices. But going forward, most international EVs are using prismatic cells. Gen 2 also allows us greater flexibility with the form factor. So the Punch EV, which is coming, will be styled to look more like an EV.”
When questioned about the possibility of creating a smaller electric car and bringing back the Nano brand, Chandra didn’t give a clear answer. He acknowledged that there is potential for it, but currently, it’s challenging to produce a less expensive electric vehicle compared to the Tiago EV without significantly reducing how far it can go on one charge. For now, there are no intentions to reintroduce the Nano as an electric car.
NEED FOR FAME III SUBSIDY.
Shailesh Chandra also stressed the need for the extension of fame subsidies through Fame III. Chandra opined that adding a road tax for EVs in some states has affected demand. While customers are willing to pay for an EV, they see the road tax freedom as a bonus. In places like Telangana, rumors of a return to the exemption make customers wait before buying.
“In states like Maharashtra, during the peak of FAME II subsidies, we hit about 1,000 units a month and that has now stabilized to about 800 units,” he said, adding that the government needs to re-consider extending subsidies to private EVs with FAME III because EVs are still more expensive by 30-35 percent compared to ICE vehicles, which add to the oil import bill and add to CO2 emissions by 30 percent. “That needs to be kept in mind.”- Chandra stated
Chandra also mentioned that even though global battery costs have somewhat balanced , the company still covers certain parts of the expenses instead of making customers pay more. However, he believes that battery prices have dropped quite a bit, although they might still change in the near future. But in the long run, he expects these prices to decrease. Currently, Tata Motors buys all the battery cells for its electric vehicles from other countries.
KEEPING AN EYE ON TESLA
Chandra also mentioned that the brand is keeping a sharp eye on new ways to build things, just like what Tesla is doing. According to a report by Reuters, Tesla is getting really close to a new way of making the bottom part of electric cars. This is unlike regular cars with gasoline engines, which need about 400 different parts. With this, Tesla is trying to make electric cars more affordable.
“We are definitely keeping a close watch on this. These are big-ticket investments. So although I have nothing to share at this stage, we are analyzing what sort of scale will be needed to justify that kind of investment. So yes, we are definitely looking into it”.
PLANS ON DIESEL AND CNG CARS
Tata’s Harrier and Safari are unique in their class for offering diesel engines when diesel vehicle sales are declining. Tata Motors plans to introduce a new 1.5-liter turbo-petrol engine. But this comes just four years before the possible implementation of BS7 emission norms, requiring substantial investment for compliance. Shailesh Chandra is awaiting clearer guidelines on BS7 regulations before deciding whether to modify existing diesel engines. He also expressed optimism about Tata’s CNG lineup, particularly with the positive reception of the Altroz iCNG. However, he noted that larger diesel vehicles still cater to customers seeking power, torque, fuel efficiency, and low running costs, which CNG cannot fully provide. Tata expects its existing diesel customers to transition to electric vehicles to meet their requirements.