Need more policy clarity on electric vehicles: Tata Motors

Tata Motors Tuesday said it is too early for it to firm up plans for commercial production of electric buses as more policy clarity on the segment is needed.

Mumbai: Tata Motors Tuesday said it is too early for it to firm up plans for commercial production of electric buses as more policy clarity on the segment is needed.

It may be noted that the government had announced Rs 1,000-crore sops to boost electric vehicle sales.

"We have been showcasing our electric vehicles for some time now. However, it is too early for us to firm up our plans for a commercial launch of an electric bus, as we don't know how much the manufacturers will get from the money allocated by the government and how much R&D spend can be clawed back," Tata Motors Commercial Vehicles Head and Executive Director Ravi Pisharody told PTI here today.

He said the company is already into no-polluting vehicles segment with CNG buses and small vehicles.

The government had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.

Last week, Tata Motor's rival Ashok Leyland announced the launch of its electric bus Versa by 2017. The 36-seater Versa, which was showcased at the fourth Bus and Special Vehicle expo in Noida in the NCR can go 90 miles in one charge and is a zero emissions vehicle.

"Depending on the regulations, we expect to launch the Versa in the country in the next two years," Ashok Leyland Vice-President for buses T Venkataraman had said. He said the bus would come as a completely built unit from the company's British based arm Optare.

When asked about his budget expectations, Pisharody, who was here to announce the second edition of the company's truck racing in March, said he expects the budget to revive the economy, which would in turn boost commercial vehicles sales.

Noting that the past three years were very bad for the auto industry, he said recent months have seen some pick-up in the CV market and he hopes 2015 to be better than last years.

Already there is a revival in the business sentiment and demand for heavy tonnage trucks are already up, but LCV sales have been suffering, he said.

On the bus sales, Pisharody said the company recently got orders for about 4,000 units under the JNNRUM scheme.

"We have received orders for 4,000 buses, out of the 10,000 that came up for bidding. We have already delivered a a few hundreds in the past two months and will be delivering the remaining over the next few months," he said.

On the impact of the excise duty hike to 12 percent from 8, Pisharody said it is too early to comment as it is not even a month since the government has rolled back the duty cuts.

On whether he is expecting some duty sops in the budget, he said ideally till the industry is revived there should be some duty cuts.

When asked about when local business of the company will see a turnaround after reporting heavy losses for the past many years, he refused to comment saying the company is in silence mode.

Tata motors, which still enjoys close to 55 percent of the truck and bus market share, has been losing to newcomers like Bharat Benz and Mahindra Navistar in medium tonnage trucks and buses.

Pisharody said the company is seeing an improvement in its medium and heavy commercial vehicle segment and expects sales to pick up in Q4.

Last year, Tata Motors had exported around 45,000 vehicles and the company has plans to grow its exports to about 25 percent and has a plan to ship about 150,000 units over the next three years.

In the first half of the current fiscal, Tata Motors' cumulative market share fell by 6.5 percentage points to almost 50 percent. While it has held on to its own in medium and heavy trucks with a share of 54-55 percent, in the LVC market, its share has dropped by 9 percentage points to 48 percent.

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