Tata Group ramps up electric vehicle strategy as India seeks to curb air pollution
NEW DELHI (NewsRise) --Tata Group is working on a comprehensive hybrid and electric vehicle strategy that includes developing lithium batteries as well as charging stations, as India promotes zero-emission automobiles in a bid to reduce the alarming levels of pollution in its cities.
Tata Motors, the Mumbai-based group's automobile manufacturer, is holding discussions with various state governments to conduct road trials of its electric vehicles, A. K. Jindal, who heads the company's Engineering Research Centre, said in an interview.
"Those discussions are going on about the whole ecosystem - one is the bus, the other is the battery, and finally charging," Jindal said. "We are discussing all the three aspects as to how we can be present in all the three areas instead of being dependent upon somebody else."
Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra and other automakers are stepping up development of electric and hybrid vehicles as authorities impose sterner measures to curb the hazardous level of air pollution in India, which has nine of the world's 20 most-polluted cities. The Supreme Court had late last year banned the registrations of utility vehicles and private cars with diesel engine capacity of two liters or more in the national capital to clean up the region's toxic smog. However, the court revoked the ban in August. Meanwhile, the government recently said it aims to make all its cars electric by 2030.
Mahindra, India's largest sports-utility vehicle maker, said in May it plans to expand its production capacity for electric vehicles to 5,000 units a month from the current 500. The company, which controls Bangalore-based electric car maker Mahindra Reva, has so far invested about 6 billion rupees ($93 million) in electric vehicles.
Jindal said Tata Motors will supply the first batch of five diesel-hybrid buses to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority next month as part of an order for 25 such vehicles. All the buses would be delivered by December end, he said.
Tata Motors plans to hold trials of its electric buses in cities including New Delhi, Bangalore and Mysore as it aims to win more such orders from state transport undertakings, Jindal said. Trials of its nine-meter Tata Ultra electric bus recently started in Chandigarh in northern India, he said, adding that the battery for the bus is sourced from a U.S. company.
"We will look at exports of these vehicles, but as of now we see huge potential for these kind of buses in the country," he said.