Vivek Srivatsa, Head of Marketing, Sales Service Strategy, Tata Passenger Electric Vehicles, at the the reveal of the Tata Avinya
Vivek Srivatsa, Head of Marketing, Sales Service Strategy, Tata Passenger Electric Vehicles, at the the reveal of the Tata AvinyaTeam evo India

“I don't think customers will pay a premium for electric” - Vivek Srivatsa, Head of Marketing, Sales Service Strategy, Tata Passenger Electric Vehicles, on the new Tata Avinya and EVs in India

We talk to the Head of Marketing at Tata Motors, Vivek Srivatsa, about the Indian EV landscape, Tata’s EV future and what customers want, on the sidelines of the reveal of the new Tata Avinya concept

It sets customer's expectations of what EVs are going to be in the future

“We wanted to use this as an opportunity to build confidence in customers that EVs are not a passing fad or how the life cycle progression of EVs will go. Nobody has spoken about it. If you look at how consumer electronics does it, phones or tech, they clearly show a roadmap to customers, so when you buy a phone or laptop or any tech today, you know two or three years down the line what you will be buying. That's the kind of thought we went with. We believe that wellness overall is gaining rapidly in terms of priority in customers' minds. All of us have started chasing wellness as home, and the biggest contrast is when we go outside, are stuck in traffic, pollution etc. We thought something should rapidly come in, extend from home to transit to work. everything else about life, whether you're connected to the office from home and you move to your car it seamlessly connects to your car, then you go to your office and the same thing happens. Seamlessness in terms of connectivity as well as in terms of the feeling of wellness is our vision.”

This concept will be in production form in the next three years

“A lot of these attributes are likely to be seen in that product. The way automotive tech is developing, a good thing is much of it is already present in other areas. It's just about integrating it together holistically and getting it all together through software, which works seamlessly in the background and gives customers a benefit. We see in the next three to five years, this will be prevalent.”

Reduction of screen time is something that customers are actively pursuing

“If you look at the latest mobile phones, screen time measurement and giving customers the option to control their screen time is actively built-in. Tech manufacturers are not doing it just like that, they've analysed their customer's needs. Automotive is probably about six years behind in the curve, where we are increasing screen time and increasing screen sizes. We believe customers will make a choice to reduce screen time to a bare minimum. If you can get work done without having a screen in front of you, all kinds of work, whether its navigation or music or anything else, we thought that is how customers will prefer interactions with their vehicles."

Voice is what we believe in

“Yes, That will be our strong direction in terms of interface. It's the most seamless and easiest way to interact. You don't need to take your eyes off anything or you need any additional motor functions. Voice is very intuitive.”

Autonomous is not something that we are still conceptualizing with this concept

“ADAS definitely. ADAS makes a lot of it semi-autonomous, but not completely. Autonomous is probably the next step. It's a big question mark if the environment and infrastructure will support it. For now, ADAS, which is semi-autonomy with a very intuitive interaction between human and automotive, is what we think will be prevalent in the next decade or so.”

We are not classifying it. Some people call it an estate, some people call it a hatch

“We think it is completely moving away from established automotive segmentation. It is more benefit based, rather than segment or shape-based. It's got the space of an MPV, it'll have the ground clearance of a crossover. It will be very agile as well. The car you see is only 4.3-metres long, and if you see the kind of space it releases, it's very different. And that's because of the new "typology" as we call it. We are not going to classify it into any segment. The customer will buy it based on the attributes, not the shapes. If he sees that the car gives him space, gives him fairly good versatility, they'll buy it.”

Maybe we are brave, but we've studied the Indian customer

“Space is definitely one of the key aspects that Indians love. You've seen MPVs growing too. At the same time, our traffic needs agile cars with a smaller footprint. Our roads need ground clearance. And if you build all that in with an interface, that makes life easy on the move. It's a very good triangulated set of benefits.”

We don't look at it as something very radical. It's a change of thinking. It'll be the first and obviously, the rest will follow the cues that it lays as benchmarks

“Being from the automotive space, I'm more emotional than practical. For me, it's just the looks. I love that something which releases so much space can look so fast and dynamic. On the move, it looks absolutely great. That's what I like, but in terms of customers, I think its the space and just the ease with which they can drive will be a favourite. But for me, it's the design.”

Expectations from electric cars is still high among customers

“It has surprised us so far. The last two years have been surprisingly fast, and the Indian customer has been obviously and repeatedly shown across categories that once a threshold level is reached, the adoption rate is very fast. We've not reached that threshold. It's some time away. Like I said, expectations from electric cars is still high among customers. We're still scratching the surface. Once there's enough confidence, that a vehicle can give me multi-utility, without thinking I should be able to travel to Mumbai from Pune or whatever threshold distance is there, that will be the inflexion point. Range is the inflexion point, supported by infrastructure [charging]. In terms of penetration, we'll all be going to be surprised in the next three to four years, at the speed at which customers embrace EVs.”

With Gen 3, we are clearly seeing 500kms

“I still think it is more than a customer will normally need, especially if you factor in how much he has to pay between a 300-400-500. For us also it's a journey of self-discovery. We are going to give options to the customers, or they'll see how much they are willing to pay for that little cushion. To a large extent, infrastructure is also going to play a crucial role in how much the customer wants to put his own money for that comfort, or if he's going to depend on the infrastructure to bail him out on those long distances. It's a little bit of a see-saw, but we are going to give options, like Gen 1, Gen 2 and Gen 3.”

We are going to launch the Gen 2 Curvv in the next two years, this will be in the next three years. So they will run parallel.

“I don't think customers will pay a premium for electric. They'll expect it in the ballpark, in terms of a pure vehicle package. It's up to us to start building in additional value in the EVs, which is possible, in terms of software and other things. Customers might not want to pay a premium, but they'll be willing to pay the additional value that EVs come built-in with. We spoke about wellness, and the other nicer features of EVs. I don't think EVs will be priced at the same level of ICE, but they will have good value to justify that premium.”

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