The transition toward commercial EVs will be bigger than its entry into the electric personal vehicle segment, as commercial EVs will potentially generate $500-700 million (Rs 3,800-5,350 crore) in business in a couple of years for the company.
Tata Motors is already the lowest bidder in a tender floated by the government for 5,500 electric buses, an order with a business potential of more than Rs 3,000 crore. The company is also set to sign a memorandum of understanding with half a dozen last-mile ecommerce and mobility providers, like Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket, Delivery and Moving.com, to deliver 15,000-20,000 units of the electric version of its Ace mini truck, estimated to be worth $150-200 million.
Tata Motors will be formally unveiling the Ace Electric Cargo this week.
“The company has been slowly and steadily aggregating demand across last-mile mobility providers. The number of 15,000-20,000 appears rather conservative; intent or demand is more than double that number,” said one of three people in the know of the matter. The company is ready to deliver more, he said, while pointing out supply chain issues, such as the shortage of semiconductors, as a drag.
An email sent to Tata Motors did not elicit any response till press time Monday.
“While the passenger vehicle business is all glamourous and gets more attention, the demand in the commercial vehicle space has a lot more heft and may deliver big moolah for Tata Motors in the future. It is a low hanging fruit, which needs to be consummated, tactically and strategically,” said a second person.
Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran last week told ET that Tata Motors’ pivot towards EVs would go “all in”, to enable the company to lead the space.
The entire Tata Group is involved to drive the EV ambition of Tata Motors, with Tata AutoComp, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Technologies, Tata Elxi and Tata Consultancy Services working on developing and supplying products, software and services.
In the past year, the company has brought on board Anurag Mehrotra, the former managing director of Ford India who may work on opening up new markets for EVs globally. Former global chief marketing officer of Royal Enfield Shubhranshu Singh, who also joined the company last year, will drive a change in perception for the brand in the cleaner mobility space.
One of the people said the electric CV business of the company would likely follow a strategy similar to what it adopted for the passenger vehicle business: showcasing capability and business potential before making investment in scaling up.
Its electric CV business will face competition from Switch Mobility and some of the new-age EV companies like Causis and Triton Mobility. Among these four companies, an investment of more than $5-6 billion is expected in creating a portfolio, ecosystem and a supply base.