MUMBAI// – Tata Motors unveiled its first electric sport-utility vehicle based on home-grown powertrain technology, as the nation’s largest automaker joins the race to dominate the south Asian nation’s nascent electric vehicle market.
Tata’s Nexon EV is set to hit the market in January, the company said at a news conference in Mumbai on Thursday. The vehicle will be priced between 1.5 million rupees ($21,100) and 1.7 million rupees.
According to the specification sheet, the Nexon EV delivers a range of more than 300 km on a single charge.
“With manufacturers like us coming with more and more cars, greater confidence will be building in the ecosystem,” said Guenter Butschek, chief executive of Tata Motors.
Last month, Tata Motors started delivering electric versions of its hatchback Tigor. The company’s entry into the sub-compact SUV segment with the electric version comes at a time when India is pushing to build more EVs to fight the toxic air pollution in its cities, and cut down the nation’s fuel import bill.
Earlier this month, Britain’s MG Motor unveiled its electric SUV MG ZS which it plans to roll out in India starting next month. In June, the local unit of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, too, launched the premium electric Kona, its first EV offering in the country.
Tata Motors’ EV launch comes at a time when the domestic automobile market is contending with a prolonged downturn. In the first six months of this fiscal year, Tata Motors’ domestic sales of passenger vehicles slumped 41%, while that of its commercial vehicles plunged 31%.
According to a report in Mint newspaper, Tata Motors is in initial talks with a couple of Chinese automobile companies for a tie up for the passenger-vehicle business. Tata is either seeking investments in the company from Chinese partners or planning to form a joint venture, the report said without citing any source.
The partnership may include joint development of technologies related to electric mobility, sharing of manufacturing capacities, development of engines and platforms, according to the report.
When asked whether the company is looking for such a partnership, CEO Butschek said: “we always look out for tie-ups.” He did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, Tata Motors’ British luxury unit Jaguar Land Rover is barely recovering from a prolonged weakness in demand, especially after the slump in sales in China. The company also had to grapple with quality and dealership issues in the largest automobile market in the world.
In the just-ended September quarter, Tata Motors reported a loss of 2.17 billion rupees on the back of worsening India demand, though the company said its China is business is stabilizing.
To be sure, Butschek said the company is seeing signs of stability in the Indian market.
Shares of Tata Motors gained 2.6% in Mumbai trading, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed up 0.3%.
Nikkei Asian Review