Mahindra looks north after UK electric car launch


London: Mahindra group sees northern Europe as the next market for its electric cars after choosing Britain for the first stage of its expansion into Europe.

The $17 billion automotive and technology company launched its e2o electric model in London, the latest automaker aiming to tap into the increasing popularity of greener cars especially in crowded urban centres.

Carmakers are hoping shorter charge times, greater ranges and the fallout from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal will help to convert customers used to conventional cars.

Mahindra already sells its vehicles in Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India but sales have been hampered in some areas due to competition from cheaper conventional models and a lack of charging points and stable electricity supplies.

The firm saw the advantages of more reliable infrastructure in Europe and was looking to Scandinavia and the Netherlands as the next places it could launch, chairman Anand Mahindra told Reuters.

“Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden, those are the kinds of markets we will look at next,” he said.

The firm said it chose Britain first due to the country’s openness to new technology but chairman Mahindra declined to say how many cars, which will be priced from £12,995 ($18,430), he hoped to sell.

Less than 3% of cars sold in Britain last year were alternative fuel models — primarily plug-in hybrid and electric cars — but sales have risen 24% so far this year, according to industry data.

French group Bollore told Reuters last week that a lack of agreement in London between the city’s boroughs had delayed its plans to put in place a city-wide network of 6,000 charging points.

Mahindra, showing off a small four-seater e2o, told Reuters that growing consumer demand would pressure London to act but that the firm was focusing on buyers who can easily charge their electric models at home.

“One has to be nimble and offer your car to the 2.5 million people in the UK who have driveways or garages which you can charge your car in overnight.”