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Mahindra Reva to launch Verito Electric in Bhutan first
Varun Sood, ET Bureau, February 19, 2014
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BANGALORE: Mahindra Reva will start exporting its electric midsize sedan, Mahindra Verito Electric to Bhutan as early as September this year, even before the electric carmaker launches it in India as the company seeks clarity on government's ambitious National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).

Mahindra Reva, part of $16.2 billion Mahindra Group, believes it would further scale-up its presence beyond Bhutan to other Indian subcontinent countries, including Sri Lanka and Nepal, as it looks to aggressively shore-up its exports.

Chetan Maini, founder of Mahindra Reva, however, ruled out the possibility of launching the electric Verito in India maintaining that it would not be "financially prudent" in the absence of government offering subsidies for the electric car ecosystem. "We are in a position to get out there (In India) by December but the launch plan would be based on what the government policy suggests. We may wait for the launch if the government policy doesn't come out," Maini told ET.

The Bangalore-based electric car maker is looking to position electric version of Verito sedan as an ideal taxi for Bhutan after its government expressed interest in making the Himalayan kingdom an electric hotspot, under which all government-owned and gas-fuelled taxis would be replaced by electric cars. "There is a market of 5,000 taxis to be looked at (in Bhutan)," a senior executive at Mahindra Reva told ET.

"Bhutan wants to go completely electric. They want to go (fossil) fuel-free," said the executive, adding that his understanding after speaking with Bhutan government is that Thimphu intends to convert all 5,000 taxis into electric taxis in the "next 3-4 years".

Experts believe Mahindra's entry in Bhutan would be a big test-case ahead of Reva which would be competing against global auto firms, including Nissan Leaf and US-based Tesla which have either already started production or in process of launching electric versions in the country. "For Mahindra Reva, the global markets offer tremendous opportunities," said Deepesh Rathore, cofounder, Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.

"We will (also) look at (exporting to) other neighboring countries, (including) Sri Lanka for Mahindra Maxximo," the executive said, declining to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

India announced the NEMMP in January of 2013, under which New Delhi plans to spend .`14,000 crore to help create an electric vehicle ecosystem which aims to have 6-7 million electric vehicles in the country by 2020. But the government is still to implement the plan.

"Norway in 2013 saw electric cars account for 13% of total cars. We should see how UK helps the industry (they) offer £5,000 per car (subsidy)," Maini told ET, asking policy wonks in the country to be supportive to the electric cars in the country. Since Reva launched in 2001, the company has sold close to 5,000 cars.

This article first appeared here

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