While the auto major had announced the appointment of Yamashita as an independent director in October, in early November it named him as a non-independent director on the company board.
Experts said the move is aimed at giving Yamashita a larger role in the company considering his vast experience in the EV space, an area Tata Motors is increasing its focus on.
Tata Motors can tap into Yamashita’s experience in setting up an EV supply chain for Nissan.
Yamashita has more than 40 years of experience in developing electric vehicles, autonomous drive and various other technologies to support Nissan Motor Company’s goal of achieving zero fatalities and zero emissions.
He has joined the board of Tata Motors for a five-year period. He is expected to bring his expertise to Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover as both companies fast track their electric vehicle plans.
“As a non-executive and non-independent director, Mitsuhiko Yamashita will be advising Tata Motors Group on engineering, quality and electrification,” a company spokesperson said.
Tata Motors believes EVs can corner up to 12% of new car sales in India as early as 2022.
It has sold more than 2,000 Nexon EVs in India so far, within a year of its commercial launch, the company said on Thursday.
Acknowledged as the most preferred electric car in India, Nexon EV is the best seller in its segment, helping Tata Motors post a market share of 70% in EVs in the first quarter of this fiscal.
At present, fleet segment is driving the sales for EVs. “We think that personal EV segments can be as high as the fleet segment,” a company official said.
To strengthen its passenger vehicle business, Tata Motors recently brought in Rajan Amba laterally as vice president, sales and marketing, passenger vehicles business unit, reporting to Shailesh Chandra, president and CEO, passenger vehicle business unit.
Amba was earlier chief operating officer of Carat Lane, a subsidiary company of Titan.
Automakers across the globe such as Ford, Toyota, Suzuki, Volkswagen, Daimler, Audi, and BMW are collaborating to reduce development costs for the next generation of vehicles.
A partnership with VW was called off by Tata Motors in 2018, but sources said the carmakers still have an open mind on a possible tie-up with the Indian automaker.
Such a collaboration can help accelerate their growth plan and offset huge investments even as they adopt newer technologies and shorten product lifecycles.
Earlier this year, Tata Motors had announced an intent to subsidiarise its passenger vehicle business as the first step towards securing mutually beneficial strategic alliances that provide access to products, architectures, power trains, new-age technologies and capital.
It was engaged in a discussion with its Chinese firm Chery Automobile, but because of the border tension, those discussions for Indian market have been put to rest.
The company maintained that the whole purpose of subsidiarisation is “to actively look for a partner because this is a reality for all of us that a collaboration can unleash a bigger potential in the next decade which is going to see significant investments in new technologies and regulations”.