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Automobiles

Mahindra to step up electric vehicle play amid India clean-energy push

Company to launch several EVs, starting with e-KUV100 model next month

Mahindra showcased its electric vehicle, ATOM, at the India Auto Show in February 2018.   © Reuters

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Mahindra & Mahindra is set to roll out several electric vehicles, starting with the electric version of its sport utility vehicle KUV100 in April-June, as the race to launch EVs in India picks up pace amid a government push.

The company, one of India's top SUV makers, plans to unveil the e-KUV100 at the upcoming Auto Expo on Feb. 5 in New Delhi. The model, which will be priced less than 900,000 rupees ($12,550), will be targeted mainly at taxi operators, Pawan Goenka, the chief executive and managing director of Mahindra, told reporters.

"The time of EVs has arrived," Goenka said. "Our focus is on shared mobility and we are focused on how to make it affordable."

Goenka said the company plans to introduce an EV for personal use with the launch of the electric version of one of its most successful SUV models, the XUV300, next year.

Mahindra is stepping up its EV business as the Indian government seeks to curb rising pollution and soaring cost of fuel import bill. New Delhi has already offered a string of incentives to support electric transportation, including a recent cut in the Goods and Services Tax to make the vehicles more affordable.

Last month, Tata Motors unveiled its first electric sport-utility vehicle based on its Nexon model. The vehicle will hit the market this month. The Nexon EV will be priced between 1.5 million rupees and 1.7 million rupees, the company said.

MG Motor, a unit of China's SAIC Motor, also unveiled its electric SUV MG ZS, which it plans to roll out in India starting this month.

Once the sole maker of electric vehicles in India, Mahindra has been struggling to boost production amid the high cost of batteries and fewer charging stations. It entered the EV market with the acquisition of Reva Electric Car in 2010. Mahindra said it already has 6,000 electric vehicles on the road.

Goenka, who is set to retire by March 2021, is underlining the company's focus on electric vehicles as the mainstream automotive industry contends with a severe drop in demand, triggered by a liquidity crisis at the nation's banking sector.

The industry is heading toward the first annual decline in sales in six years in the fiscal year ending in March, spurring cutbacks in production and stirring job losses. Mahindra's sales of passenger vehicles slumped 15% in the first six months of this fiscal year, as much as that of commercial vehicles.

Shares of Mahindra gained 3.1% in Mumbai trading on Thursday, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex rose 1.6%.

--Rituparna Nath and Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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