Demand for ZS EV on rise in non-metro cities, range increase is key: MG Motor
MG Motor made a brave foray into the world of electric mobility when it had launched the ZS EV in India back in January of 2020. And while electric mobility is still in its nascent stage here, the carmaker has drove in the updated ZS EV on Monday with significant updates to the battery pack and ground clearance.
Speaking to HT Auto, Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commercial Officer at MG Motor India, explained that the two of the several updates would especially attract buyers in non-metro cities from where there has been an increase in demand in recent times. Explaining how the ZS EV has now expanded its presence to 31 cities in the country, Gupta also highlighted how the process of expanding the support infrastructure is continuing to ensure range anxiety is not a roadblock for those interested in having a battery-powered drive option.
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Here are the excerpts from the interview:
HT Auto: What are the kinds of changes you have observed in the Indian EV space since the ZS EV was first launched here?
Gupta: When we launched ZS EV in January 2020, the number of booking for the car was more than the entire electric passenger vehicles sold in 2019. It was very reassuring for us. We also observed that, especially in the post-Covid era, the overall understanding of cleaner blue sky is really catching up.
Now the discussion is about 'when I will get an EV', instead of 'if I should get an EV.' This has been a key change in terms of acceptance perspective towards EVs in the last 14 months.
HT Auto: How many units of the ZS EV have been sold in the country so far and what are your expectations from the monthly subscription model rolled out?
Gupta: If you look at the overall model of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric), that is what MG Motor is built upon. The Connected is the internet car MG Hector, Autonomous is MG Gloster with level 1 autonomy, Shared is where our partnership with Myles and Zoom come into play, while Electric is ZS EV.
The aim of introducing the MG ZS EV in the subscription program is encouraging more people to get an EV, drive an EV and experience the ownership of an EV. With this, the consumers can get comfortable, understand the usage pattern. It will help them to decide where to put the charger, depending on their drive cycle. The advantage of a subscription is it is a new way of experience a vehicle at service. This is really appealing to millennials who look for the experience and ownership is not very critical to them. A six-month ownership package is very handy.
HT Auto: What was the thought-process behind driving in the updated ZS EV within about a year of its initial launch?
Gupta: Our parent company has a joint venture with CATL, the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer. Our access to new technology helps us to bring in new innovations at a much faster pace. Innovations and experience are the core drivers for MG. Innovation is always at the forefront, while we thrive to offer the class-leading experience to consumers.
The faster we bring in new technologies and offer them to consumers, it will help in understanding and accepting the EVs better.
A 419 kilometers certified range, 300-400 km in most conditions. This is a very good support system. It gives coverage for about 4-5 days for most of the people. That is why we felt that it is good to bring it now and offer it to the consumers. EV is an evolving space and we are very well suited to bring in new technologies in India.
We got a very good demand and a lot of customer pool is happening from beyond metro cities. Initially, the sales of the ZS EV were limited to some metro cities. Now, looking at the demand from non-metro areas and the road conditions there we felt the need to increase ground clearance. The additional battery capacity and ground clearance add more safety. With the car suitable for much wider road conditions, we are expanding to 31 cities, where we will be selling, servicing, and supporting our EV customers.
HT Auto: Are you saying the demand from Tier II and Tier III cities increased for the EV?
Gupta: Yes. There is the demand coming from Tier II and III cities. The customer there drives comparatively less. EV comes as a very effective cost of ownership tool.
HT Auto: Is the infrastructure increasing at the same pace?
Gupta: We are continuously working on the backend of the ecosystem. We got our charging partners Delta, HDCom, Fotum for DC superchargers. We have a 5-pronged strategy. We offer an onboard cable, we install AC fast charger, in our dealerships, there are DC fast chargers, and we have mobile on the go. Today we got 21 DC fast chargers in association with Tata Power and Fotum.
We are actively working with the battery recycling to give it a second life.
Some of the state governments are installing RTO chargers. The pace is high.
HT Auto: Is there a sense of increased rivalry in the EV space now than before?
Gupta: It is an evolving space. The more players come here, the more will be the introduction of technology. It is just the beginning of the EV transformation in the country. It will give confidence to buyers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.