Manufacturing News

China's EV market lures Mahindra, India's biggest SUV maker

China's electric vehicle market is so hot that India's biggest SUV maker is angling for a piece of the action.

Mahindra and Mahindra's electric car unit is looking for a joint venture partner in China to manufacture and sell EVs, according to Arvind Mathew, CEO of Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Pvt.

The company sells electric cars in the United Kingdom and India, and is open to offering its powertrain technology to buyers other than its parent, he said.

"We are continuously looking at the Chinese market to build up scale," Mathew said in an interview Thursday, declining to say whether Mahindra Electric is in discussions with local companies. "The Chinese market is an attractive market as it has all range of electric cars, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cars and buses."

Indian automakers have lagged behind their counterparts in the U.S., Europe and Japan in cracking China, even as Chinese carmakers are venturing abroad into emerging markets.

Mahindra's South Korean unit, Ssangyong Motor Co., has said it will look to markets such as China to make up for an expected decline in shipments to the U.K. following the Brexit referendum. Rival Tata Motors' luxury Jaguar Land Rover unit produces the Evoque crossover in China through its joint venture with Chery Automobile Co.

Stiff competition
A successful joint venture in China would pit Mahindra against stiff competition from more than 200 Chinese companies, some backed by the likes of billionaires Terry Gou, Ma Huateng, Jack Ma and Jia Yueting.

The Indian conglomerate led by Chairman Anand Mahindra has interests spanning airplanes, yachts, hotels and residential homes. Last year, Mahindra bought Turin-based Ferrari designer Pininfarina S.p.A. to help it move beyond its roots in tractors.

China has identified electrified vehicles --including battery-electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell powered vehicles -- as a strategic industry to promote its goal of energy security and pollution control.

The central government aims to have 5 million EVs on China's roads by 2020 and has spent billions on consumer subsidies, r&d grants and construction of battery-charging stations.

For Mahindra, manufacturing in China is necessary because imported vehicles are subject to a 25 percent duty and don't qualify for subsidies. China requires foreign automakers to set up joint ventures with local partners to manufacture vehicles.

Highly competitive
"China is not only a fast-growing electric market but also highly competitive with strong local electric-car companies," said Kavan Mukhtyar, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Mumbai. "For Mahindra, what matters most is learning from the Chinese market. Eventually, Chinese electric-car companies will enter the Indian market."

In April, Mahindra Electric introduced the e2o in the United Kingdom. The three-door electric city car has a starting price of $16,100 (107,950 yuan).

The company introduced its first electric sedan, the eVerito, in June with a starting price of $14,200 in New Delhi.

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