Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, is working on born-electric vehicle architecture as well as flexible vehicle platform that can take electrification in the future, as the company prepares to flex its muscle in the electric vehicle segment.
The Mumbai-based company, which was one of the first companies to develop a fully electric commercial vehicle on its own, is preparing to launch its first electric truck, which, according to a company official, ‘will be launched soon’. Tata Motors is already the leader in the electric passenger vehicle segment with a share of more than 70 percent.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors said, “We are working in a very modular manner. While we have a product plan at the product tonnage in the background, we have an aggregate strategy which is about battery packs, motors and axles. All the work we are doing for IC (internal combustion) engines we are keeping it flexible for introduction of alternate fuels and electric. So, if tomorrow electrification is required for a vehicle, we don’t need to change the basic platform.”
Wagh added that Tata Motors is looking to introduce an electric vehicle that will cater to the last mile segment. He, however, did not provide a timeline of the launch. Rival Ashok Leyland is preparing to launch the electric version of the 150 km drive range Dost and Bada Dost in the market. Both vehicles are mini trucks used in intra-city operations. A number of start-ups have introduced small electric load carrying commercial vehicles since the past one year and several more are in the pipeline.
The Tata Group company, which is the leader in the electric bus segment having the largest share of electric bus number in operation in India, is working on a platform for the future that will be born electric. This essentially means that the CV models will be developed specifically for electric application. The upcoming electric mini truck, however, will be a flexible platform model.
Tata Motors passenger vehicle division is working on a similar strategy wherein the development of born-electric platform is underway. As the vehicle is designed to be destined as an EV, the cost of development and vehicle performance is vastly different than a conventional platform development.
When asked if Tata Motors will look at born electric platform, Wagh said, “Yes, even in CVs it can make sense. That is also something we will start looking at because finally we have to see when the transition is going to happen. Some of the new platforms we will work on will essentially have electric from day one.”
Besides electric, Tata Motors is also working on hydrogen fuel technology and the debut of this model will happen after two years. The company has committed to deliver 15 fuel-cell buses to Indian Oil Corporation.
“We are studying the entire market because in the long term all vehicles will be electric. We are keeping a track for the entire range for battery electric and fuel cell because these are the two base technologies. Once we are ready with these, we can deploy them in various tonnage nodes,” Wagh added.