India turns Tesla's electric vehicle formula on its head to target mass market

by Anindya Upadhyay and P R SanjaiTesla helped electric vehicles gain a mainstream foothold in the US by starting with luxury cars and then moving down-market. India's nascent transition to EVs is heading in the opposite direction.Many consumers will get their first taste of electric vehicles from public-transit systems and corporate fleets in India, where car ownership per 1,000 citizens is just 20, compared with 800 in the US Companies such as Bangalore-based Lithium Urban Technologies Pvt, which provides EV fleets to corporations, are expanding as India aspires to end sales of internal-combustion engines by 2030."In the next five years we'll have 10,000 electric cars and buses," Sanjay Krishnan, the firm's co-founder, said in an interview, adding that the company hopes to have its first electric bus as early as this year.India's relatively low rate of car ownership means consumers have an opportunity to make the electrification leap without some of the challenges and costs other nations will face, and makes possible a path focused at first on mass transit and fleets."We started with mass mobility and will then go to an aspirational model -- just the opposite of Tesla," Mahesh Babu, chief executive officer of Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd., said last month at a conference in New Delhi.

"It's important to think about public mobility when thinking of electric transport."Mah...

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