Senior government officials have refused to use electric cars made by Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd citing poor performance and low mileage, said three people aware of the development.
The vehicles are procured and deployed by Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a public sector unit under the ministry of power. Initially, due to lack of charging infrastructure, the supply of electric variants of Mahindra’s Verito and Tata Motors’ Tigor was delayed.
Tata Motors and Mahindra were to supply 350 units and 150 units, respectively, to the Union government in the first phase. Subsequently, the auto makers were to give another 9,500 units of electric vehicles to EESL, with M&M accounting for 40% of the total.
Taking into consideration the shortcomings of E-Verito, Mahindra is developing a new electric vehicle that gives more mileage, said the second of the three people mentioned above, requesting anonymity.
According to a senior official from one of the ministries involved in formulating rules and regulations for electric mobility, both models failed to run even 80-82km on a single charge within city limits. Battery capacity was not up to the mark, compared to global standards, the official added, requesting anonymity.
In reply to an emailed query, EESL said there are more than 150 electric vehicles on the roads in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. The company did not specify the reason for the delay in procuring vehicles for government use nor deny that officials had refused to use the vehicles.
“Since it is a new technology, we wanted to gain confidence on our products before delivering it to our clients,” an EESL spokesperson said. “We will be deploying about 200-250 electric vehicles by mid-July. The conditions of the second tender are being re-evaluated and will be released soon. EESL will continue to enable more energy and fuel savings by creating a robust market for e-mobility in India.”
On 1 January, Mint had reported that the entire fleet of electric vehicles was supposed to be delivered by 30 November 2017. Subsequently, the deadline was pushed to 30 December 2017 due to lack of charging infrastructure. So far, only around 150 vehicles have been supplied, according to EESL.
According to a senior industry executive, these two models have limited range. Their battery packs are of 17 kilowatt (kW), while the global standard is 27-35kW. Hence, the apprehensions of officials are genuine and the refusals to use the vehicles acceptable, said the executive. “On top of that, government officials get huge sums as car fuel allowance. If they take these vehicles, they cannot claim fuel expenses,” said the executive, requesting anonymity.
“As part of our tender with Energy Efficiency Services, we have already completed the production of 250 cars and initiated the execution of phase II orders,” a Tata Motors spokesperson said in response to an emailed query.
“We are committed to the government’s e-mobility mission by 2030, and continue to work in a collaborative manner to facilitate faster adoption of electric vehicles and to build a sustainable future for India,” the spokesperson added.
The Mumbai-based company did not mention the number of cars supplied to EESL, nor did it answer questions on the quality of vehicles.
A spokesperson for Mahindra and Mahindra declined to comment.
Recently, Bloomberg reported the second tender of 10,000 units had been postponed to 2019 due to lack of charging infrastructure.
“The real reason behind the postponement of the third tender is the unavailability of quality products in the electric vehicles market at this point in time,” said the third of the three people mentioned in the beginning. EESL did not reply to the question about the reasons that led to the postponement of the tender for the third phase to 2019.