Australia’s lack of EV support rules alternative powertrains out

Although electric vehicles are fast becoming a major technological showcase for numerous automakers, Mahindra has ruled out EVs for Australia citing cost, and the lack of government incentives, as the reason behind the decision.

At the local launch of the petrol-powered XUV500 SUV, Mahindra’s chief of international operations, Arvind Mathew, confirmed the brand’s focus would remain on petrol SUVs and diesel light-commercial vehicles.

Mahindra’s electric vehicle history stretches back eight years, putting it ahead of many traditional automakers, but cost concerns mean Australia will go without.

“We do electric cars, but I don’t think Australia is ready for electric because the kind of incentives you have to offset the high cost of batteries is not enough.” Mathew told Australian journalists.

Mahindra was also the first vehicle manufacturer to enter the Formula E electric racing category, and plans to use its experience on track to contribute to the development of future road cars.

“We believe that investing in Formula E has its benefits, because the race-to-road concept. Whatever is proven or disproven on the track can feed into production three to four years later.” Mathew said.

“Creating the technology that will flow into future cars and products is also a big benefit of formula E.”

Mahindra’s current EV range includes the e20 Plus light hatch, eVerito small sedan, passenger and cargo versions of the eSupro small van, and an electric auto rickshaw called the eAlpha.

While the current range features lithium ion-batteries and fast-charging capabilities depending on the model, specifications fall below what Australian buyers would expect – with as little as 110 kilometres of driving range from the eVerito and a maximum speed of 86km/h when fully laden.

The Indian government has suggested plans to become an EV-only market by 2030, though no firm policy has yet been put in place. In response, automakers in the region are planning to increase the number of electric vehicles available.

“We will keep expanding our portfolio as it goes forward.” Mathew said of the EV switch, later confirming that to fit Australian market demands and emissions regulations, “commercial vehicles will stay in diesel, but when you’re in passenger vehicles [SUV] they have to be gasoline.”