Having lost the first mover-advantage in the EV race, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is now upping the ante and is developing a wide range of all-electric SUVs. The company is expected to launch the electric version of the XUV300 in early 2023, and two months ago, it teased what it called the ‘Born Electric Vision’, essentially three all-electric concept SUVs which will be unveiled in July 2022 to showcase the company’s future direction.
The three concepts teased will be based on a new, bespoke Born Electric EV platform, which, company sources say, is the cornerstone of its electric strategy. However, it’s also clear that Mahindra isn’t banking just on skateboard architectures or monocoque-based EVs. Speaking at the Pune Alternate Fuel Conclave 2022, Anish Shah, managing director and CEO at Mahindra Group, said, “There is a concern around SUVs, as far as emissions are concerned, that positions electric SUVs very well, and they are already in existence today. Infact, all our [electric] launches are going to be SUVs only, and we will also, as a next step, look at body-on-frame with electric on SUV.”
What this body-on-frame vehicle could be remains unknown, but an electrified Bolero and Scorpio could materialise. Mahindra is on the verge of launching the new-generation Scorpio (codenamed: Z101) and it’s possible the new platform could be easily adapted, or even ready to some extent, for electrification. An electric Bolero could also present Mahindra the possibility of offering an electric solution to smaller towns and rural markets.
Beyond what the product could be, this statement from the M&M boss assumes significance as most passenger vehicle manufacturers are wary of electrifying ladder frame vehicles because of the weight and packaging constraints the chassis’ long members present.
Domestic EV market leader Tata Motors has only electrified its monocoque vehicles and, in fact, has completely moved away from ladder frame passenger vehicles with the discontinuation of the Hexa in 2020.
Global giant Toyota also recently displayed an electric version concept of the Innova at the Indonesia International Motor show in Jakarta; however, weight, cost and range are all challenges with an electric version of the current ladder-frame-based Innova. Most sources claim the vehicle is very likely to remain a one-off showpiece designed to gauge customer interest.
It will thus be interesting to see if Mahindra can indeed pull off what would be a unique approach. But if anyone can, it would be this home-grown Indian SUV-maker with over 75 years of body-on-frame experience.
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