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Storyboard18 | How auto brands should emphasize their electric ambitions

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Unpacking the market opportunities and challenges for brands, the players to watch and what they should watch out for.

Storyboard18 | How auto brands should emphasize their electric ambitions
As auto brands gear up to market an electric future to Indians, Storyboard18 caught up with industry veteran Delna Avari to get her view on the electric vehicles market in India. Avari used to head marketing at Tata Motors' passenger vehicles division, where she was part of the senior leadership core team that led the transformation of the PV business unit. Here, Avari unpacks the market opportunities and challenges for brands, the players to watch and what they should watch out for.
The EV market in India and auto brands
With a CAGR of 22 percent till 2030, the EV market in India is growing rapidly especially with a lot of states declaring incentives and subsidies. The 3-wheeler category generated the highest revenue in the electric vehicle component market in India, under the vehicle type segment, in 2019. This is credited to the huge sales of e-rickshaws in the country, which are the highest in the world.
In recent years, the Indian electric vehicle component market has witnessed a number of product launches, as the players are focusing on expanding their business, with the rising demand for EVs. Apart from B2C use cases, a lot of companies are now focused on providing last-mile solutions for clients like Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy.
Companies like Ather Energy, Ola Electric, Ampere, ETO, and a host of start-ups have revolutionized this space of last-mile solutions along with some 4-wheeler OEMs like Tata and Mahindra.
Emphasizing electric ambitions: What works and what doesn’t
According to WBCSD, the recent Indian electric vehicle policy advancements are encouraging electrification, but the absence of ambition and mandates leaves ambiguity about the pace.
There is a need to develop a roadmap with clear milestones for the systematic transformation towards sustainable mobility. Aspects to consider include incentives to customers to scrap old and migrate to EV, encourage vehicle fleet owners to increase usage of EVs, systematically invest in upgrading charging infrastructure in a grid-based manner, standardize industry protocols and liberalize regulation. This is happening but needs to be more collaborative and structured in a single direction to build momentum.
At a large OEM level, there is adequate action with Tata Motors and Mahindra leading the charge so to speak. There is also a sub-sector emphasis on employee transport, ride-hailing services, and goods delivery services where the adoption of electric two, three, and four-wheelers could gather steam soon.
Undoubtedly what works is the ecosystem conversations around EVs driven at one level by the likes of Tesla and at the other by homegrown brands. The early adoption and positive experience will drive the industry forward. The risk is a narrow definition of what EV stands for making it another CNG kind of customer adoption. If the infrastructure rollout, component cost and availability, and customer experience are not elevated, we will not unleash the potential.
The Indian EV consumer and the challenges of marketing an electric future
There is definitely a strong B2B play here currently mainly with logistics providers, delivery operators, and last-mile solutions, led mainly by cost and efficiency and to some extent brand perception of doing the right thing for the environment.
For a B2C play, there is a set of customers who are knowledgeable and keen, mainly led by the appeal of international brands which are largely unaffordable even when present eventually.
Tata Motors has done an impressive job so far with their products as having the 2-wheeler start-ups. However for increased adoption and acceleration of the trend, we need to do a lot more for mass customer awareness, range anxiety, cost concerns and resale/used car market.
Even the customers who can afford and want it, are concerned about the hassle of battery cost/replacement frequency or of setting up individual charging infrastructure. This is why one emphasizes the need for a comprehensive roadmap with all aspects moving simultaneously in the same direction, it cannot be sequential.
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