India’s biggest automotive company by revenue Tata Motors has launched an electric version of its popular crossover sports utility vehicle Nexon—its first electric vehicle (EV) offering for private ownership. Earlier, EVs made by it were sold only to fleet operators and government agencies.

The price of the car starts at ₹13,99,000 (ex-showroom). The car, which has a range of 312 kilometres on a single charge, boasts connected features that can be operated via a mobile app. This facility will be free in the first year of purchase.

The battery and the motor of the car—housed in a waterproof compartment—carry a warranty of eight years (the average lifetime for these components). The Nexon EV is powered by the in-house developed Ziptron technology: a modular electric powertrain platform comprising a permanent-magnet AC motor and a dust-and-waterproof, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery system. All the components have been indigenously developed and the company hopes to acquire over 60% of all the car components locally when the local manufacturing ecosystem develops.

As Tata Motors is among the earliest automotive players in the Indian market to roll out an electric vehicle, the Tata group wants to showcase this effort as one of its most important projects in recent times. The launch was attended by several CEOs of companies under the Tata group who pledged to play a part in the development of the EV business. Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran set the tone saying that the adoption of EVs is not a trend but an imperative. Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, whose fondness for the group’s automotive company is no secret, made a special appearance.

As the scope for battery-powered businesses is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, several Tata group companies are coming together to help put together the Nexon EV and thereby, gain experience in the growing business. For example, Tata Chemicals will make battery cells, for which it is already building a new factory and has an investment outlay of ₹1,000 crore over the next three years. It already has a battery recycling plant which will help it recover cobalt, an important and precious ingredient in making batteries. “Eventually, we will be in several areas of the battery business globally as it doesn’t make economic sense in making batteries just for the Tata cars,” says R Mukundan, CEO, Tata Chemicals.

Similarly, Tata Electric will be sharpening its prowess in offering a charging network, an important part of the electric ecosystem. These are still early days but the company has already got over 300 fast-charging stations in a handful of Indian cities where the Nexon EV will be initially sold. It plans to double the charging points in the next year and also develop the business of setting up charging stations at buyers’ homes. Likewise, TACO, the auto component arm, will assemble the batteries and make several other drivetrain and electronic components.

Tata Finance will bring in attractive financing schemes, while the group’s retail arm Croma will sell these electric cars, apart from the already existing dealership. “The idea to pool in resources was put in motion when we first decided to respond to a government tender that required to us supply electric vehicles quickly. We pooled in group resources and could meet the deadlines and the Nexon EV is now the most visible example of that effort,” says Guenter Butschek, managing director of Tata Motors.

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