New Delhi: Leading domestic automaker Mahindra & Mahindra is developing its inaugural range of electric light commercial vehicles (LCVs) to position itself in a fiercely competitive segment that is transitioning from conventional fuels to cleaner technologies such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and electrification, two people with direct knowledge of the company’s plans told Mint.

Mahindra plans to launch its first line-up of electric four-wheeler commercial vehicles in 2025, complementing its existing electric three-wheeler cargo products, they added.

Mahindra confirmed the plans in an emailed response to Mint’s queries. “M&M is an industry leader in light commercial vehicle category (vehicles with sub-3.5-tonne payload). The electric three-wheeler segment has been an early adopter of electric vehicles and M&M already has a strong portfolio of electric 3-wheelers with a dominant market share. We will consolidate our leadership in LCV sub-3.5 tonne category with a new range of electric vehicles by 2025-26,” Veejay Nakra, president, automotive sector, M&M, said.

The new model will compete with the Tata Ace EV, and Ashok Leyland’s ieV series of electric trucks in the sub-3 tonne segment. The market for small and light electric commercial vehicles, though at a nascent stage, is rapidly expanding as large fleet operators are seeking emissions-friendly technologies for last-mile deliveries. This shift is driven by mandates to phase out polluting commercial vehicles, evolving emissions-related regulations, and as the fleet operators pursue improved cost efficiencies.

Mahindra’s market share in the light commercial vehicles category was 47% in November, making it the largest player in the segment.

Tata Motors followed at 31.2% market share in the same month, data compiled by Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association showed.

The Tata Ace EV is the electric adaptation of Tata’s top-selling small commercial vehicle in 0-1 tonne category, the Tata Ace. In contrast, Ashok Leyland’s electric mobility arm, Switch Mobility, is built on a dedicated electric platform designed for the 2-3.5 tonne segment. In this segment, M&M commands an over two-thirds market share. These vehicles cater to last-mile delivery of goods, following a hub-and-spoke model on clearly defined operational routes. They find application across sectors, including e-commerce, fast-moving consumer goods, and agriculture.

M&M may look to capitalize on the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for automobiles for its LCVs. It enjoys PLI benefits for its lithium-ion battery-powered electric three-wheeler cargo vehicles.

In the past year, M&M edged past Tata Motors to take the lead in the light commercial vehicles segment. Ashok Leyland is also aiming to secure a significant share of the LCV market, and claims to have received orders for over 10,000 units of Switch’s ieV trucks, scheduled for a 2024 launch.

On the other hand, Tata Motors Ltd, the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to launch electric trucks in India, inked. memoranda of understanding with many e-commerce entities for delivering 39,000 units of Ace EV across Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi when it launched the product in May 2022.

Tata Ace EV has also earned certification for receiving benefits under the government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (FAME II) scheme.

The LCV category in India, comprising vehicles of up to 7 tonnes, grew 27% from a year earlier in FY23 to 603,465 units, 2% lower compared to its FY19 peak, according to Elara Capital.

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Published: 14 Dec 2023, 10:52 PM IST