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India Car Co Mahindra Plans To Build Larger Electric Vehicle

Indian car maker Mahindra & Mahindra (BOM:500520) plans to extend their electric vehicle product line beyond the small Reva E-20, an executive told the Press Trust of India.

“After we launched the e2o in March, now we have just started developing a new electric vehicle platform. This will be for higher powered vehicles,” M&M President for Automotive Sales, Pawan Goenka, was quoted saying on Sunday.

The electric vehicle market remains a far-off segment of the world’s auto industry.  Over the weekend, high end U.S. electric sports car maker Fisker Karma said it was laying off 75% of its workforce now that the government has cut subsidies to the California company.  Tesla Motors, another high-end California EV maker, is also trying to build out its market for electric powered vehicles that start at a high $57,000.

The U.S. remains the biggest market for EVs.  General Motors (GM) reportedly sold 23,461 Chevy Volts in 2012 compared with just 7,671 in 2011. The roughly $45,000 Volt is one of Chevy’s lowest-selling cars due to price, but does better than the Corvette, which sold around 14,000 units in 2012.  The cheaper Nissan Leaf, a small and less stylish EV that goes for around $28,900, sold just 9,800 units last year.  The new price cut, however, will allow it to compete with the best selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius.

Then there’s China trying to move into a pole position in this market, with the government promising recently to extend subsidies to struggling electric car makers like BYD.

In India, Mahindra is partnering with Korean car maker SsangYong to build out its EV platform.

Last week, Goenka said Mahindra will launch the electric version of its entry-level sedan Verito at some point in 2014.

The Reva e-20 was India’s first zero emission EV and was originally designed and produced by the REVA Electric Car Company. It was acquired by Mahindra in 2010.  Three years later, Fast Company named Mahindra & Mahindra one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World. It was tied at No. 22 with Tesla Motors.

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