Synergy is Tata's ignition to drive electric vehicle growth, Nexon EV out

Tata Motors was an IPL sponsor this year for the first time. It left no stone unturned to promote the Nexon (pictured ). The marketing push had a positive rub-off on other brands as well.
Seven chief executive officers (CEOs) across firms at the Tata group came together on Tuesday just before the launch of the group’s first electric car, the Nexon EV, to discuss how the “Tata universe” had shared resources to bring out the best possible product. At the launch, Ratan Tata drove to the stage in the Nexon EV, and was accompanied by group Chairman N Chandrasekaran. 

The Tata universe is a follow-up to Chandrasekaran’s ‘One-Tata’ initiative to increase collaboration among different companies of the conglomerate. Chandrasekaran had proposed the ‘One-Tata’ idea about three years ago. The group identified electric mobility as its first focus under the strategy.

“As the Tata group, for the first time, we are launching the electric vehicle ecosystem and all Tata companies have played an important role for the past 18 months,” said Chandrasekaran. 

“We have at least four more EV models coming up in the next 24 months, including a hatchback, a sedan, and two SUVs,” he added.

“There’s the car on the one side and the Tata universe on the other, and what we have worked on is affordability and design,” said Guenter Butschek, Tata Motors CEO and MD. “This product is the first indigenous car of its kind.” 

The past few years have been uphill, with the company’s passenger vehicles market share falling from almost 17 per cent in 2007 to 5 per cent in recent months, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data.

“The move is also a reflection on how large conglomerates must syncro-mesh their abilities in the new-age economy, or perish,” said a former group chairman.

So, how exactly did other companies pitch in? Praveer Sinha, CEO and MD of Tata Power, said his firm would be making EV charging stations. “The aim is to make 300 by year-end and then 650 in the next two years,” he said. 

R Mukundan, CEO and MD of Tata Chemicals, said his firm had already started investing. “Our approach is on building battery cells and recycling tech, where the net investment is Rs 800 crore, of which we have already invested Rs 100 crore.” The capital will be used to make a 500-tonne hydro solution for batteries. It will be in Dholera.

While executives from TCS and Tata Realty (TRIL) were not present, it was acknowledged by Tata officials that both TRIL and TCS were also instrumental. For example, TRIL will be making the bay areas and the infra for the company’s electric commercial vehicles in time to come. 

Tata Autocomp will be planning to localise the car components and in due course make EV chargers as well. 

Other retail business at the Tatas, such as Croma, will also be leveraged. Avijit Mitra, CEO of Croma, said the outlets would offer digital displays, sale of portable charging station units, book test drives, and receive bookings. “Our customer base is digitally oriented. We think it makes sense to offer them access to such a product,” he said.

That a carmaker has made an electric car is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. 

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