Mahindra & Mahindra has stopped selling electric cars in the United Kingdom due to weak sales and is winding up sales operations there, according to a document seen by Reuters, in a new setback to the Indian automaker’s global ambitions.
Mahindra’s decision comes less than a year after it launched the e2o car in a market it considered a launchpad for selling electric cars in European countries like Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
“The level of e2o sales achieved is at an untenable level for us to maintain the investment required, hence our decision to cease trading at Mahindra UK with immediate effect,” Mahindra said in a letter dated April 10, addressed to one of its buyers in the country.
Mahindra said it has stopped the sale of all e2o cars in Britain with immediate effect.
“Immediately post Brexit, the e2o has not met the desired sales targets as per the plans for the UK market,” a Mahindra spokesman said in an emailed response, without explaining how Britain’s decision to leave the European Union hurt sales.
“We’ll reconsider the UK market at an opportune time,” he said, adding that electric vehicles are poised for a take-off in India and Mahindra will focus on its home market.
The move is a new setback for the company, part of the US$17 billion (NZ$24.6 billion) Mahindra group, which struggled to enter the United States a decade ago despite spending about US$100 million on launch plans.
More recently, it was forced to stop selling pick-up trucks and sport-utility vehicles in Brazil in 2015 due to a sluggish economy and changes in local regulation.
The automaker, however, continues to expand in other places. Its South Korean arm Ssangyong Motor is considering manufacturing in China, where import duties are high, and could make a decision by mid-2017.
Mahindra, in the letter, said it has stopped the sale of all e2o cars in Britain with immediate effect, cancelled all pending orders and is buying back cars from existing customers at the price they paid for it.
“It is with great sadness that we have had to make this decision, but ultimately the level of interest in the vehicle and the extremely low volume of sales has left us with no alternative,” it said.
Mahindra did not comment on its investment in the UK or the number of cars it has sold in the country.
While Mahindra blames Brexit for its performance, car sales in the UK have continued to rise despite forecasts that demand would be hit by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
UK car sales hit a record high of 2.69 million vehicles in 2016, industry data showed. Of this, alternative fuel models, primarily plug-in hybrid and electric cars, made up a little over 3 per cent but are growing faster than conventional cars.
In April 2016, Mahindra launched two variants of the e2o car in the UK at a starting price of £12,995 ($24,282). Buyers could test drive the cars at a handful of locations, but the vehicles were only sold online and not through dealerships.
Dubbed as India’s Tesla, Mahindra sells the e2o in its home market and in the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan. Like in the UK, Mahindra has struggled to significantly ramp up sales of electric cars in India in part because of the lack of charging stations and low buyer interest.
The number of electric vehicles (EVs) advertised on the AA’s used car-portal between May and June this year increased more than 600 per cent compared to the same months in 2014, the firm announced this week.
Advertisements for EVs on the AA Cars website were 652 per cent higher than in the second quarter of 2014 and 66 per cent higher than the same period in 2015, the firm said.
Second-hand electric vehicle stock in June was also at its highest ever level on the website, with the average turnover 16 per cent higher than the same month of 2014, the firm said.
Meanwhile, average listing prices for EV across all brands, have fallen by 17 per cent from £16,603 in September 2014 to £13,751 in June 2016.
The AA says it expects over 500,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to be in use by 2020, while 4,100 charging locations are already available across the country.
Everyone lauds the attempts being made to have more electric cars on our roads. There are major drawbacks, of course, with range anxiety prime among them – though with a little bit of management in an urban environment that can be just about coped with now.
But, without in any way detracting from the effort, we should still bear in mind that electric cars are not emissions free.
Well, most of them aren’t. Most rely on power generated somewhere else. And generating that power can invoke considerable emissions. I think we lose sight of that.
I read somewhere recently that an electric car can use as much electricity in one charge as your average fridge does in six weeks. Which is a fair bit if you are charging it every day.
But that shouldn’t be regarded as a downer. Why not use the goal of significantly reducing the environmental impact of power for electric cars as an incentive to produce them more efficiently?
And why not encourage wider use of electric cars by making it even more worthwhile to have one?
All sorts of proposals have been made for Ireland (where monetary incentives are quite generous) such as free parking, tolls etc.
But there is a lethargy about our official approach to them and the numbers sold bear that out. Either we are serious or we are not. And I don’t think we are. We require a different sort of commitment.
I’m prompted to say so on the basis of charges that are coming down the line. This is a great juncture for the Government to step in and say: “We’re going to back electric cars to the hilt and here’s how.”
That would show real intent.
* Speaking of range anxiety . . . BMW is anxious to play down reports its BMW i3 electric car is ready to go further in the not-too-distant future.
Reports suggested it has developed a new higher-density battery that will extend the range to 200km instead of the current 160kmh. But a spokeswoman in Ireland said it was just press speculation.
* On a different electric-car tack . . . Tesla is recalling every Model S that has been bought so far after discovering a fault with a passenger’s seatbelt.
It recently found a Model S in Europe with “a front seatbelt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pre-tensioner”.
There was no crash or injuries but Tesla says: “However, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection.”
* Despite its travails, Volkswagen is pushing ahead with plans for an electric Phaeton to rival the likes of the Tesla Model S. But it will be three or four years down the line.
* Moving away from electrics . . . Toyota here is claimingit is first in Ireland to fit an advanced safety system as standard to a city car. Its ‘Safety Sense’ technology pack will be on the AYGO. The company says there is “no extra cost to the driver”.
* Good to see Jaguar Land Rover here expanding its retail network with the appointment of the Joe Duffy Group as North Dublin’s Jaguar dealer for Sales and Aftersales at HB Dennis.
Based in Airside Motor Park, Swords, the HB Dennis outlet is also a Land Rover dealership.
* And speaking of Land Rover: production of the great Defender will end early next year.
2016: “The government’s current air quality plan with respect to London is based on the very limited ambition of the previous mayor to tackle air pollution and isn’t enough to protect Londoners health,” said Khan. “I know from personal experience that the city’s air is damaging people’s health as I suffer from adult-onset asthma myself.”
Khan’s first major policy announcement after winning the mayoral election for Labour were new plans to tackle the capital’s air pollution. These include more than doubling the size of the planned Ultra Low Emission Zone.