Talk to any industry leader or mobility expert, you’ll discover that the objective is no longer about moving a person from point A to point B. Customers now want quick, cost-effective and environment-friendly mobility solutions and companies are scampering to be the first ones to offer such solutions. India is no exception.
Auto Futures spoke to Nagesh Basavanhalli, Managing Director and CEO of Greaves Cotton Limited – an engineering group that is a leading manufacturer of engines in India. He started by discussing India’s mobility paradigm shift.
“The mobility trend is gradually shifting towards public and shared transport. And the lack of infrastructure and parking refrains people from owning a personal vehicle. Some of the key factors which will drive the growth of the market is economical affordability and convenience. In a country like India, where the population is on the rise and infrastructural development is still to catch up with rising demand, it is an economical choice for consumers to opt for shared mobility,” explains Basavanhalli.
“Shared taxis and autos not only act as a faster mode of transport but also provide affordable and hassle-free commute which will lead to an increase in ride-sharing and auto rental companies,” he adds.
Mumbai-based Greaves Cotton Limited has been around for over 160 years but is now busy investing in the future. It’s recently acquired the EV manufacturer Ampere Vehicles.
It’s now busy focusing on Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric (CASE) services that are trending across the world. But just how exactly are they taking shape in the Indian market?
“Most countries aim to switch to electric vehicles soon and are working in collaboration with international companies to drive the future of mobility. While India is slowly moving towards these changes that will change the face of the local auto industry, there is a long way to go. Vehicles designed for comfort, convenience, health and sustainability will gain prominence in the future,” Basavanhalli notes.
“Connected cars provide efficiency and convenience such as GPS navigation making it a preferred choice for personal vehicle owners. In India, thus far, connected and shared technologies have made considerable progress compared to electric and autonomous. With newer technologies, connected cars are making inroads into the Indian car market.”
Up until now, global mobility solutions have been modified to fit the Indian consumers’ needs.
When asked if he sees any specific trends originating from India that cater to the average Indian consumer, Basavanhalli says: “No specific trends which is very different that can be quoted. At Ampere, we continue to design and deliver products and solutions around existing & emerging needs of customers. The vehicles expected in future should meet the basic requirement of being rugged & reliable to withstand the Indian duty driving cycle. INDIA has substantial younger customers & hence style, appeal and tech related conveniences will have higher demand for the digital savvy customers.
“One of the key areas where the industry needs to put more effort is to create a robust infrastructure for electric vehicle charging in Tier-I cities in phase I and Tier-II and Tier-III in phase 2. Increase mindshare from the conventional vehicle market.”
“Greaves is focused on cleantech mobility and providing affordable last mile connectivity. As part of this, the company is aggressively working in cleantech technologies such as CNG and electric vehicles, which are sustainable and future mobility solutions,” he continues.
Investing in the Future
Ampere Vehicles launched over a decade ago with three e-scooter models. We asked him how important the investment in Ampere Vehicles is to his company.
“Adopting Ampere as an arm of Greaves Cotton was a future-forward step for us, to be precise a move towards a more sustainable ecosystem. The very fact that, in the span of last one year, we have sold 3 times of Ampere sales versus last year.”
He adds: “Currently, we are working extensively to strengthen our Ampere family. We have launched the Ampere owners’ community called ‘HOLA’. This is one common place for all the proud owners to come together and share their experiences and stay updated. Not only this, but we have also partnered with Amazon, now one can buy Ampere bikes online with a click. Greaves vision is to provide affordable last mile mobility connectivity and Ampere is helping us to turn our dream into reality.”
Greaves Cotton announced the full acquisition of Ampere Vehicles on November 13th.
Basavanhalli feels that, while India is making strides in the area of new mobility, it’s not going to be an overnight change. Rather, we’re looking at a gradual transition, which has significant problems involved.
He says: “While the Indian government is taking required measures for fostering the adoption of electric vehicles, there is a lot of ground to be covered in terms of awareness, sustainable infrastructure, charging stations and, most importantly, cost-efficiency for both customers and manufacturers. It will be a gradual transition and it is imperative for auto component manufacturers to start preparing for the ensuing disruption.
“The government has setup new policies and schemes for the switch to EVs which can surely benefit the industry, however, we see some challenges such as re-inventing business models, scrapping the existing stock and inventory for manufacturing EVs. The current employees would also need to be trained and up-skilled since they will be the ones driving this.”
Basavanhalli concludes: “We welcome these moves but also see the need for a realistic strategy to implement the shift, keeping in mind all the other aspects that could have an impact on the industry as well as consumer demand.”