“Enabling electrification of last-mile mobility has been a key priority for us”: Suman Mishra, CEO and MD, Mahindra Last Mile Mobility | Autocar Professional

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Having covered the e-commerce side and increasing competition from Bajaj and TVS, what is your focus for the electrification of the passenger three-wheeler space?

Enabling electrification of the last mile has been a key priority for us; it includes both the passenger and cargo segments. With the increased number of players participating in this industry, we expect to see significant growth in its electrification, which should also provide the critical mass required to enable the ecosystem, such as charging infrastructure, recycling, etc.

Given that the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme is sales-driven, when will its benefits and costs become apparent? Is it reasonable to anticipate that these have been accounted for in FY24, or do you believe it will take longer?

All MLMML products are Advanced Automotive Technologies certified, which is a key requirement to be eligible for the PLI incentive. We will file the incentive application once the SOP is released and expect to have it processed at the earliest.

Could you provide an update on the advantages of PLI in terms of long-term cost reduction for consumers?

The PLI Scheme in India aims to stimulate manufacturing across sectors. It can lead to cost reduction for customers through economies of scale, technology upgrades, competitive pricing, and job creation. By incentivising domestic production, the scheme contributes to a more competitive and efficient industry, benefiting customers with lower prices and improved product offerings.

The Auto Component PLI focuses on building a robust supplier landscape. This not only supports the growth of the automotive industry but also establishes India as a key domestic supply base. This strategic emphasis on strengthening the entire supply chain ensures that manufacturers have access to high-quality components locally, contributing to cost efficiencies and competitiveness.

Furthermore, the Advanced Chemistry Cell PLI is instrumental in supporting the manufacture of advanced battery cells within the country; these are critical components in EVs and renewable energy storage. By incentivising the development of this technology domestically, the incentive helps de-risk the supply chain, reducing dependence on foreign sources for key components.

What are your plans for expanding the charging ecosystem, like installing stations at dealerships or working with third-party CPOs in the e-autos space?

MLMML has partnered with key third-party charging point operators and has successfully installed more than 10,000 chargers nationwide. Improving the charging ecosystem will be a prime driver in our electrification journey, and we will continuously work to expand and reach more customers.

You recently launched ‘Jeeto Strong’ for last-mile cargo and transportation. Where do you see electrification fitting in?

The Jeeto Strong CNG and diesel models were launched in the less than 2-tonne category. There is 1.5% electrification in this space. Our EV will be available in the market within the next year. We believe both ICEs and EVs will co-exist in this category soon.

What are your company and industry goals for the current three-wheeler fleet in terms of EV penetration — from where you are now to where you want to be by CY2023 or FY25?

In FY24, the L5 M/N EV penetration was at 11.3% and 14.2% respectively, whereas the rickshaw category is 100% electrified. In FY25, we expect electrification to grow further in the L5 three-wheeler category.  At present, Mahindra Last Mile Mobility Limited (MLMML) is India’s top electric three-wheeler manufacturer, with over 1.5 lakh EVs sold till March (~52% market share in L5 M and ~67% in the L5 N EV categories).

The 1.5 lakh EVs include the Treo auto, Treo Plus, Treo Zor, Treo Yaari, Zor Grand and e-Alfa Super rickshaw and cart.

How do you see your business expanding in the next few years? 

As electrification in the last-mile transport space grows, we expect to contribute positively to the M&M expansion landscape. Mahindra Last Mile Mobility is one of the growth gems within the M&M Group and will continue to add considerable value with a significant growth target.

EVs boosting microenterprises is a big opportunity for small businesses like plant nurseries, food vans, coffee shops, or ice-cream carts. What are your thoughts on this?

At Mahindra, we believe in empowering our customers. Mahindra’s electric three-wheelers offer a range of versatile variants, customisable to meet the specific needs of customers. These adaptable solutions cater to diverse applications, including mobile food vans, small electronic showrooms, garbage tippers and many more.

The flexibility in customisation underscores our commitment to providing tailored electric mobility solutions for various microenterprises and business needs. We have initiated a dedicated Facebook page for our customers, titled ‘Meri Gaadi, Mera Vyapar.’ This platform enables our customers to share diverse applied use cases of their Mahindra three-wheeler EVs. By doing so, they not only showcase their entrepreneurial ventures but also contribute to inspiring and generating ideas for new business opportunities. We expect to scale this up further in the coming year.

In the span of a year, how many new e-commerce players would you have on-boarded or deepened relationships with, in the last-mile mobility space? How many do you intend to onboard after FY24?

We consistently collaborate with e-commerce platforms, seeking to enhance their economic viability and operational efficiency through our product offerings. One of our recent partnerships is with Amazon, where our products are poised to make a positive impact on their overall operations. Under this partnership, Amazon has announced the launch of its last-mile fleet programme in India with 100% EVs. The initial phase began with Mahindra Zor Grand EVs— a global first for the company. We also recently empanelled SIDBI as part of ‘Mission 50k- EV4ECO’ to accelerate EV adoption.

This interview was first published in Autocar Professional’s April 15, 2024 issue.

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