Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mahindra Reva

For an electric future hopeful like me, this has been an eventful few weeks. The one big event which happened-which I had to blog about was the acquisition of Reva by Mahindra. Forbes India had carried a superb article which is a must read for anybody in interested in this space.

The way I see it, both Mahindra and Reva need each other. Mahindra, obviously, needs Revas technology - which is home grown and fairly proven. Reva, on the other hand gets a leg up with Mahindras proven reach. The marriage of the two could result in some innovative combinations - some of which I will take a bet on soon.

The Reva is an innovative vehicle no doubt about it - to get an electric vehicle into production and sell it in a place like India (and some abroad) is no joke. It is also in a unique sweet spot of experience of selling an electric vehicle in a developing nation - bad roads and bad driving sense and all that. It is the only Indian company with this expertise and it was waiting to be bought. The Revas price point was on the higher side - if Mahindra with its deep pockets can subsidise it a bit, the vehicle will catch on - primarily from a city driving perspective. But all said and done, watch Mahindra do wonders with the Reva - this space is crying for action and could very well see M&M top the stakes in the city vehicles space if it plays this game well.

So, what could happen in this space?

  • An initiative like Zipcar. It may not happen in a city directly, but it can happen within airports, big housing complexes, educational campuses, factories, petrochemical complexes and what not. This is an initiative that begs to happen - perhaps with pick up and drop points near Mahindra dealerships for instance.
  • An innovative public transport option like the rickshaw - with lower price points - again starting off from a small city. 
  • Mahindra figures out a way to put the Reva technology into its vehicles creating hybrid solutions
  • Mahindra has also purchased Kinetic recently - there might be some traction in electric bikes (though this is a segment least affected by oil prices because of the higher mileage of bikes) and trikes and rickshaws and light goods movers (again for complexes)
  • The next gen Reva gets some good traction and reach thanks to Mahindras dealerships and distribution and reach. (Well, I am an eager customer for one)
As the Forbes article says, automotive majors need to have an EV or alternate fuel strategy in place and get it soon, lest they be caught napping. But at the same time, there is this persistent belief that the world will continue just fine with oil burners and  a simultaneous disbelief - it cannot be done. At the same there are those who are proving that it can be. And in this battle, it is better to have your feet on both boats and jump onto the one which floats. I am hoping that the oil story sinks soon...

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