Glib talk doesn’t get sales done – Mahindra Reva has to learn something from a small time guy like “Rocket Singh Salesman of the year” Movie.
Mahindra Reva has recently introduced the new ‘battery on rent’ scheme, to increase the sales of the e2o electric car, which according to me is trying to fool the customer through suave marketing talk. Why? Check out my maths below:
If you buy an e2o it will cost around Rs 700,000. So assuming 10% interest rate for 5yrs the monthly installment on the car would be approx. Rs 12,000 per month. If you are buying the battery-leased car you will pay (500,000 for the car) at an installment of Rs 9,200 and a Battery lease of Rs 2,500 which equals to Rs 11,700 (Rs 9,200 + Rs 2,500). At the end of the day it amounts to the same thing. The poor customer will have to pay almost the same… but now to two different people – meaning more headache. And for this minor matter the company spent a lot of money in advertisements.
To me the whole thing this is very simple and clear cut – Chetan had made a very good product and Mahindra gave it a very good design and extended their service centers and showrooms across the country. But now they have to showcase the product to the people as to how the product runs… how it works… It is just like when the 1st steam engine or the Mono Rail made its maiden journey. People are excited but don’t know anything about it.
It was also somewhat similar when the Steam Engine made its final Journey in Mumbai starting from CSTM. I was working at Matunga station. I remember that day vividly. People from all walks of life had gathered excitedly around each railway station that this steam engine passed through. The atmosphere was captivating and everybody wanted to have as close look as possible . People had forgotten how steam engine performed – so people who stood close to the train on the platform had some fiery sparks of coal flying at them, people who stood on the bridge to get a good, undisturbed view got totally engulfed in smoke that as the engine passed by underneath, etc. It was enchanting nonetheless.
Mahindra should also cook up something similarly exciting. So that everybody gets to see the vehicle, touch it, feel it – and UNDERSTAND IT.
Govt. subsidy – the biggest excuse of EV industry in India
Till Mahindra do something people will keep talking of… waiting for the Govt. subsidy to come, for Gudi Padva to come, for Diwali to come, for Christmas to come and for New Year to come to buy a new car. It is not the Company’s responsibility nor is it in its benefit to engage in such discussion. Even if the subsidy is given the improvement in sales will be marginal because people have not understood the Electric Car. They are afraid of the Electric car just like they are afraid of the Automatic Transmission car. People imagine the cost will be much more.Another excellent excuse is “auto industry is in recession” Yes it is in recession BECAUSE the petrol prices are going through the roof and people find it expensive to own Petrol/Diesel Cars. So presently they rent one whenever the family trip happens. Meeru Cabs are an excellent call-taxi service so people depend upon that. Electric Car marketing team should have capitalized on this increase petrol prices and the EV industry sales could have just zoomed upwards. But right now the best selling electric car in the world (until the late 2009) is facing its worst sales record EVER. While the EV industry the world over did excellent sales. Mind you from 2009 till 2013 the whole of Reva-e2o team were completely dormant due to the switch over to Mahindra. The company lost 4 to 5 precious years of momentum and gave away the first mover advantage to other international companies.
If the petrol prices drop THEN this “auto industry is in recession” excuse is acceptable for the EV industry, not the other way around.
Who benefits from such excuses?
But who benefits most from excuses? – The Company Marketing heads obviously benefit most. It is they who have an excuse to show that it is because the Govt Subsidy did not come people are not buying the car, it is because Diwali has not come that people are not buying the car, it is because New year has not come that people are not buying the car. Blah Blah and more Blah… It is for such reason that a separate marketing team has to be setup for the EV Department. The future of this team should depend upon the future of the EV Marketing Team of the Company. Fair enough?The onus is also on the company is on reaching out to the customer, in engaging them, in discussing and showcasing live to them how the car runs. This is paramount… as almost 99.99% of the population has not even seen how an e2o or an Electric Car looks in real life forget about how it performs. This is a serious disadvantage for the company which they have to overcome… SOMEHOW.
So by that account 500 sales per year is outstanding sales! It must be the first time in History that people are buying a car almost blindly… either trusting other e2o car users… or trusting the words of e2o reviews made on websites. This phenomenon is unique for every single electric production car sold on the surface of the earth.It is not every day that people put 8 Lakhs rupees on the table to play blind. It is also not a inexpensive car. Let us also accept the fact that parking the car, maintaining Solar Panels and charging is much, much easier to do in villages than in Cities. If we are willing to do a little heart searching we will also find that the villages are where people need more vehicles as the public transport is very limited.
We would do well also to accept the fact that not all villagers are poor. And a much higher percentage of villagers (in comparison to the city dwellers) are installing Solar Panels for their lighting/Irrigation purposes. Theoretically any person in the village having more than 1 Acre land or having 5 cows should be a prospective e2o buyer.
No. of Solar Irrigation Pumps sold = Potential E2O Sale!
By that account itself Mahindra E2O should have sold at least 10% of number of the Solar Irrigation Pumps sold in India. If suppose 10,000 Solar Pumps were sold till date then Mahindra should have sold at least 1,000 E2O. Its as simple as that.Marketing Blunder or Design Error
If Mahindra could not do this then it is a very serious marketing blunder on their part. Or unless the vehicle cannot be used on village roads which again is a very serious problem that Mahindra Team are to solve.
If Mahindra were to showcase this vehicle across the country and target the small towns and villages then they would easily double their sales. But they have to explain to the small town/village folks how this thing works, the whole concept idea and how by charging it from their solar panels would liberate them from Petrol and Diesel costs just like the Solar Pumps have liberated them from the mercy of the Grid and Electricity charges.
Acceptance of e2o would mean liberation from not only the Petrol but also from the Grid. TOTAL FREEDOM! So Mahindra should stop pushing the suave polished sales talk to its customers and come out with sensible talk or solutions. Some of the strange marketing ideas seem to be coming straight out of the movie’s (“Rocket Singh – Salesman of the year”) AYS sales team.
Deep Cycle Lead Acid Battery of local ISO Standard company (eg Su-Kam) can be an option for the cheaper E2O. This could lower the cost of the Car by Rs 200,000. – A Temporary measure until the price of Li-Ion battery comes down. These batteries are being used in the villages for decades in Inverters to combat power outages and are very dependable.
A step behind can also be a step ahead:
One of the solutions includes offering Lead-Acid Battery as an option which they were using in their older version called Reva. Obviously the quality of the Lead-Acid Battery and its packing have improved over the course of the last 10 yrs. So a Rs 5 Lakh E2O with a Rs 90,000 Lead Acid Battery (good for 2yrs) is a good option for a person who do not want the 3Lakh Li-Ion Battery pack or a person who wants to reduced the price of the car.After all everybody likes to have a choice. Don’t we?
Some people at Mahindra might not be happy with this Blog… but I prefer to call a spade a spade. I appreciate a good plan and shoot down a bad. All through my blogs I have only one thing at heart – for Mahindra to improve leaps and bounds and for it to become the biggest EV company not only in India but also in the world and let more and more people to enjoy the freedom from OIL.I once again list the things Mahindra needs to do to improve:
1. Short term Renting out – for people going outstation or longer distances especially on weekends.
2. Show case the car to the people on the road. Have more road shows, EV events and let people actually feel and appreciate how good the car is to drive.
3. Marketing department needs a shake up. Or a completely new marketing team needs to be set up for the Electric Vehicle segment.
4. Social Network push can get better.
5. Websites, Magazines and other media that are pro EV need to be supported.
6. To think of Rural areas and small towns as bigger markets than Cities. 70 % of India is in Villages. ALL OF THEM have space to park a car, Solar panels are getting installed every day. But sadly the world EV community, Mahindra thinks the other way around. Most of them think of city People as prospective buyers.
7. EV vehicles need to be able to tackle village type uneven roads.
8. Inclusion of locally made good quality (Su-Kam) Lead Acid Batteries as an option for cheaper e2o car.
9. Publish a strategy on DC quick charging stations. Placing of these along highways rather than residential areas will allow people to travel Inter-State especially around tourist/business spots – Prominently along Mumbai-Pune-Aurangabad / Bangalore-Chennai etc.
10. Have townhall events, like the ones showcased by Tesla Motors where the top executives, including Mr Chetan Maini can speak to the owners and get feedback. This should be published on YouTube and other social media to showcase and encourage other prospective customers.