Sudarshan Venu On TVS Motor’s Electrification Drive

Murali Gopalan
12 Sep 2023
09:00 AM
4 Min Read

The Managing Director explains why it is important to remain a differentiator in this space and the reasons why he is confident about the road ahead.

TVS Motor

Sudarshan Venu is clearly excited about his company’s electrification journey.

“We are in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in this transformation and I  think it is really exciting to be able to grab, harness and embrace it,” says the Managing Director of TVS Motor Company in a recent interview with Mobility Outlook.

The latest offering in the electric space is TVS X that was unveiled at a glittering event in Dubai on August 23. Right from its nomenclature, confined to a single letter of the English alphabet, to the wide range of features, the product is completely different from anything TVS Motor has had in its stable thus far.

“The X represents the X factor and the vision with which we are bringing it which is simple, appealing, cool and caters to Gen Z. They will find the single letter cool. With the new set of evolving consumers, we need to relate to them and ensure that they stay excited,” says Venu.

The good part is that there are enough millennials already in-house creating these products who can empathise with the needs of Gen Z. Additionally, there is constant market feedback coming in that enables the team at TVS Motor to plan the right products that can satiate the needs of these millennials.

Is it the beginning of an all-new TVS in the process? Venu makes it clear that there is nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it is about “leveraging the TVS values of technology and quality and embracing the opportunity of sustainability and an electric future”.

As he elaborates, the millennials and Gen Z are the target group for TVS X. Old-timers will recall that this is precisely the same route the company tok decades earlier with its Scooty which carved a niche for itself in the youth market then. The latest offering, albeit in an electric avatar, is likewise in sync with the new emerging dynamics today.

In Sync With The Vision

“I think TVS X represents the brand and vision we are working on for the future. This product is really a representation (of this objective) and our flagship EV,” says the MD. The company has already had a successful offering in the scooter market with the iQube which is the closest rival to Ola Electric and notching numbers of over 15,000 units each month.

Venu is also pleased with the way the right skills are in place within the electric ecosystem at TVS Motor. “We have really strengthened our team in the areas of electronics, electric and software which are very important when it comes to our future vehicles,” he says.

Today, over 50% of the new hires are in these domains and, all in all, it is a team of over 600 engineers comprising both fresh talent and those who have had some years at TVS Motor. Consequently, the new and not-so-old order have come together to “deliver the TVS brand and values in the context of tomorrow”.

It is this cerebral mix that “we are seeing in TVS X” which, in a sense, marks a triumph of the right skills and experience joining hands to raise the bar in electric. “We have a good balance of those with the experience and others who understand consumers as well as the rigors of engineering going in tandem with the mavericks,” he laughingly adds.

TVS Motor

Exciting Products

Electrification is doubtless happening at a far more rapid pace in the scooter arena and TVS Motor has ensured that it is an early mover here. This also puts in context why “we continue to invest here” even while demand continues for ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles in many segments for which “we will launch exciting products”.

Venu expects nearly 30% of the Indian two-wheeler segment in India to be electric by 2025-26. It was barely 5% last year and expected to double this year with 20% expected to follow in less than two years from now. This component “will only grow from there” and even while there are other clean fuel options like ethanol, “I really believe electric is the most important avenue in which we are investing”.

TVS Motor already has a strong alliance going with BMW Motorrad and the debut electric offering is also expected in the coming months. Venu also explains why the TVS X was launched in Dubai. “We have our global partners coming from Africa and Latin America… Dubai is a global city which is a cool place to send a global message.”

The electric drive is also the fulcrum of the Vision 2030 plan which “should be to transform the quality of lives of our customers and people around with exciting, safe, sustainable and responsible mobility solutions”.

In an earlier interview with this writer, Venu had also spoken of the need for industry and academia being in sync to have the right talent in place for this electrification journey in India. “Continuous education will play an important role and universities will hopefully change over time. They will then start producing engineers who are ready for not just pure mechanical — but mechatronics kind of engineers who have electrical understanding also which is much more important,” he had said.

Asked about his unwavering faith in electric (at the time of the earlier interview, the market had not transformed so dramatically as it has now) he had reiterated that it was important to look at the medium- and long- term trends and then invest behind that. With battery costs coming down and customer acceptance going up, “I think an equilibrium will be achieved. It will take some time; there might be ups and downs but we need to look at the actual trend which is compelling  and invest behind them”.

New Chemistry

His optimism also stemmed from the improvement in technology that was apparent in this space. “New chemistry is being found which is being developed and will have lower costs,” he had added. In time, this would “come to an equilibrium” where the cost made a lot of sense and “we should be committed” to invest in electric.

According to Venu, battery life would only get a fillip in the future. “There may be questions here and there but I feel that it is only getting better. Technology is improving constantly with so much global investment in the field. Therefore, we must invest in newer and newer chemistries going forward,” he added

Needless to add, the energy transition would have to be managed carefully for a global company like TVS Motor more so when the electric shift in some other countries would take a little longer than in India. “I think it has a promising opportunity in some of them as well and we have to look and see how we can really capitalise on this,” Venu had said.

This period would see development in ICE both in India and other countries — “and we will invest in new products there as well”. Despite this tightrope walk challenge, Venu had made clear that the big focus was “really electrification” where TVS Motor has created an aggressive template for the future.

“We will invest in other options to make ICE cleaner and greener but electric is the important focus. Electric is something we are really excited about. It is not just regulation, but also the global move towards sustainability, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and these kinds of things. It is beyond regulation. It is about the world, people, climate change and wanting to do something to address it,” Venu had reiterated in the interview.

Raising The Bar

The key was to produce world-class products in India which were hopefully better than the current ICE options or at least as good as they are. “That, I think, will make this acceptance (of electric) better,” he said. Indian two-wheeler companies had already displayed their global competence over the years going by their “amazing” export numbers.

The key, therefore, was for manufacturers to raise the bar “whether it is TVS or any other major OEM” and the results would follow. “You see what the industry has done in the ICE two-wheeler area and I am sure it will happen in electric also,” said a confident Venu.

The top priority would be to focus on continuous innovation and stay ahead of others. “In any way, this should not stop your innovation or investment or create some lower standards. Provide the best cutting-edge standard with a moving goalpost and better solutions will emerge every year,” he had explained.

The EV transition also had to be planned in such a way that “it is to our advantage”. For this to happen, it meant going local aggressively. “We must work and make it happen. A localised supply chain and renewable power is key to ensure that the benefit of electric is there for the whole ecosystem,” reiterated Venu.

Also Read: 

TVS X Redefines The Brand’s Future Of Product Design

TVS Motor - BMW Partnership Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Expands Scope

Share This Page