“We have significant interest from many players – e-commerce providers, financial investors and strategic investors and we are in the process of finalising (a deal) with one or two of these players,” said Goenka. He declined to comment by when could a deal be concluded. The company launched its electric cargo vehicle under the brand Treo Zor on Thursday. The vehicle was designed in consultation with e-commerce companies, said Mahesh Babu, managing director, Mahindra Electric. “While we have made this also to meet retail demand, it is very specifically designed to meet e-commerce demand. We are in touch with many of them and you will hear when we jointly announce,” he said. Inquiries have also come in for these vehicles from Europe and Japan, but India remains the focus market, Babu said.
Mahindra Electric also makes electric three-wheelers for passenger transport under the Treo brand and has sold over 5,000 units since its launch in 2018. It has spent about Rs 100 crore in developing the Mesma 48 platform on which these vehicles are built, according to Babu. The company has localised most of the components on the vehicle barring battery cells and a few other small electronics which are imported.
The vehicles receive government subsidies under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme. Goenka said that government subsidies continue to remain critical to keep these electric vehicles competitive with combustion engines vehicles. While EVs are cheaper to own over their lifetime due to low fuel and maintenance costs, the purchase price still remains much more expensive than conventional vehicles. For example, the Treo Zor starts at Rs 2.73 lakh after government subsidies and lower GST rate as compared to about Rs 2 lakh for three-wheelers with diesel engines.