- Tata Motors holds about 90 percent market share in EV automotive space in India
- The Tata Nexon EV however had a frugal start and a humbling development phase
- The initial batches of Tata Nexon EV had its battery pack and wiring fitted by hand
Tata Nexon EV is a successful product from Tata Motors that dominates the EV space in India’s current automotive scenario. However, the product that took Tata’s share in India’s electric car market to 90 percent along with just one other car in the fleet, had a very humble start. The development story behind the Tata Nexon EV is something of a fairytale in itself. The Tata Nexon EV holds the majority market share in the EV segment in India and is soon due for a mechanical update.
The 2022 Tata Nexon EV launch is around the corner and the car has been spied testing on public roads in the recent past. The new car is expected to bring in updates in the form of a bigger battery pack that is expected to boost the range to 400km from the existing real-world range of 200km on a single charge. The vehicle is also expected to receive minor cosmetic updates and rear disc brakes.
Tata Nexon EV development story
Tata Motors’s interest to develop an EV came with multiple constraints – time, limited adoption potential at the time, limited technological know-how, etc. However, engineers at Tata Motors’ took the leap of faith and progressed with the idea.
To keep the costs of such a project car in check, an existing model from the company’s current lineup was chosen after a survey that was conducted under the name of ‘Project Mango’. Three pillars were chosen as the base – aspirational performance, range and safety. The car then went through a thorough development phase and was completed in record time. Usually, a conversion product takes up to 30 months at the development stage; Tata Motors’ aimed to complete this at half of this.
The resultant Tata Nexon EV was given a space at Tata Motors’ flagship production facility at Pimpri – Chinchwad, an industrial town 15km from Pune city. The plant set up on 228 acres of land is capable of producing 2,25,000 cars annually. However, the Nexon EV was allocated an unused space on the shop floor. Initially, a total of only eight vehicles rolled off the line every day. Demand grew and the company now rolls out more than 100 units of the Tata Nexon EV every day off its shop floor.
The Tata Nexon EV’s low production rate at the beginning was due to the DIY approach that was adopted by the company. The battery pack and the wiring harness were fitted by hand. Setting up a new EV plant in an untested market would have been “a huge amount of investment sitting on the potential of emerging volumes,” Anand Kulkarni, vice president of product line and operations at Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, told Reuters. All components and infrastructure were sourced from Tata Group companies and a cheaper battery type was used. To keep the vehicle cost from rising for the Indian market, Tata avoided these overheads and kept the Tata Nexon EV’s price relatively in check. The car is priced around Rs 15 lakh currently.
Last year, Tata said it planned to launch 10 electric models by March 2026. This year, the company reportedly has plans to quadruple its EV production to 80,000 cars.
Notably, Tata attracted a $1 billion investment from US private equity firm TPG, taking the valuation of its EV business to $9 billion, which is almost 40% of Tata Motors’ market value.
Tata has future plans to set up its own full-fledged EV plant and is working on an EV-specific car platform. A Tata EV based on that platform is expected to launch in 2025.