MG Motor India is playing its ambitious stint in India by bringing in the smallest EV to rule urban mobility space. We speak to Mr Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commercial Officer- MG Motor India, to know more about their plans and strategies for the Comet.
Ramesh Somani - Gaurva, How's your experience working with MG Motor India for four years, nine months and counting? Tell us something more about your professional journey.
Gaurav Gupta-Yeah and it's been a very enjoyable and enriching experience. I started over as a consultant. And then, after a short stint in the MiddleEast, in Dubai, I worked with General Motors for a long time, privileged and lucky enough to be based both in India and then in overseas markets like Southeast Asia, Singapore, China, and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia. So a good overseas overall experience across various functions. Correct.Both on the field and then also the central office.
Ramesh Somani - Tell us more about your academic journey.
Gaurav Gupta- I did my initial schooling in Dehradun. And then moved to Delhi for my college, after which I pursued my MBA from IMT Ghaziabad.
Ramesh Somani- let's talk about Comet. What is a Comet? What is the marketing strategy behind this? Because this is a very unique car. So what are the expectations? Tell us whatever you feel comfortable with.
Gaurav Gupta- The Comet to all of us, and I'm sure to you as well, as we drive, is the perfect solution for urban mobility. And when I say that, just look at the form factor, the size, the manoeuvrability, the ease of driving that I have to say, very easy car to drive. Just the stance itself gives you visibility across all sides, even on the rear seat, for that matter. The aircraft windows give you a lot of roominess and don't make you feel claustrophobic. It is green, it's electric like I mentioned, and it's great savings as well.
Ramesh Somani- What kind of age group are you targeting? Are you targeting teenagers, graduates or anybody and everybody?
Gaurav Gupta- Frankly, this car can appeal across the board because of its smart design. The tech in the car, like, you see this floating screen; it's like a mobile screen. You can change the widget. So it's got smart tech, the smart electric package that you have in this car, which gives you a good certified range of 230 kilometres, which is good for city driving by any standards for a normal day.
Ramesh Somani- Did you do some market research about the conventional shape of Comet and the price point or what the consumers want? What were the insights that really governed this decision?
Gaurav Gupta- Yes, more than research, this is also the trend that we are seeing as we go along in the world today. This car's platform is from the global smart electric platform that we have in our portfolio. And this car has the fastest journey to ten lakh unit sales. So 1 million cars have already been sold on this platform. So that milestone of 1 million cars has been reached. That also reflects the acceptability and the keenness to look at something different, something disruptive. And that is where we feel that the younger generation worldwide and including now in India, have a purposeful choice that they make. And that's why this car, for that matter, is a no-nonsense car.
Ramesh Somani -Right. So in the past, Reva has come up with something different. Something different in shape and size. It didn't really work well. A lot of reasons can be factored into that. So, are you nervous about Comet?
Gaurav Gupta-Not at all. There are two ways to look at it; the time frame of some of the earlier launches was different. The era today is much more different. Overall, I would say, if you just look at this, it's like a tech gadget. It's like a gadget on wheels, literally. So the overall choice, like I was talking about, the smart design, the smart tech, the smart electric, the smart convenience, and then we're backing it up even more by bringing in the overall savings perspective of smart savings, smart choices of colours, decals stickering, personalization options that you have too many. This entire package is where it starts to appeal to a lot of younger audiences who want to have their own stance. They want to have their own stamp on what they use. But having said so, obviously, this vehicle will have a lot of usage. It's easy to park and drive.
Ramesh Somani- There is definitely a case for it, but I don't know where this may work or not. But there is a definite case for itself. This is what I personally feel. But in the end, It all depends on what price you drop it at. Do you agree?
Gaurav Gupta- Price definitely will play a role always in any kind of acquisition. But more important is the desirability quotient that we expect the Comet to create. It definitely is a new form factor. It definitely will be disruptive. We believe that the way the world is moving to such kinds of choices, we'll be seeing on the growth path as we see along. And that's what we hope in India also. So to your earlier question, are you nervous by any standards? We have to always plan for a launch, looking at all aspects of consumers' stances, offerings, and positioning. So we have worked on all these elements, but obviously, the proof of it will come once the car is on the road.
Ramesh Somani- Tell us something more about their leadership styles. What kind of people problems have you faced, and how have you solved that? Because I'm sure, you come across a lot of problems internally to motivate them. People burn out these days, especially to get youngsters to work for a longer time. What has been your philosophy? How do you deal with those situations?
Gaurav Gupta-One of the key aspects of a business is to always look at your communication style. Another thing is- are your team members, the entire team, and all the stakeholders aligned on what is the mission and how to get there? And that is what then drives people to come together collectively. I think that becomes a very important factor. How do you get the troops together to align on a mission and then work collaboratively to tackle it. Now, there are situations where there would sometimes be a change of direction or recalibration of the route that you are taking in life or in business. So, how agile are you to be able to move, to be able to align with that? I would say that any generation is committed to a common mission and common cause. The energy comes from each other, and it actually builds on each other.
Ramesh Somani-What are the other cars coming from MG's stable this year?
Gaurav Gupta-We showed our range at the Auto Expo. We had a range right from plug-in hybrids to electric vehicles. And also we showed a hydrogen fuel cell on display. And these are all production-ready cars. So we are obviously evaluating various body styles and various options that we have in our overall portfolio for the market over here. But definitely, we are committed to bringing in more electric vehicles. This is our second electric car after ZS EV.
Ramesh Somani- Do you think by 2030, we will have a larger share of cars on the road in India, which will be EVs?
Gaurav Gupta- Definitely. In fact, the government and everyone is working towards 30 in 2030.30% of the industry being electric vehicles by the year 2030. And that ramp-up is already continuing. Actually, one key factor which I must share is a quick number-In India, you have to bring in a car, you could say, in the ten lakh rupee market, and that becomes the turning point or tipping point for getting into EVs.Now also, if you see at the passenger car market, almost 75% to 80% of the market is below Rs 15 lakhs. Whereas in the EV market, it is the reverse. It's only about 15% below the price of 15 lakhs because you do not have the choices. Another thing I didn't mention to you is that this is a pure electric platform. So unlike some of the other cars, you see where they also have an ICE converted to an EV. This form factor, which is pure electric, gives you so much legroom space and flexibility in the car also there.
Ramesh Somani- The top speed is capped at 100kmph, which means that you'll touch about 90. Do you think that will be a detriment?
Gaurav Gupta- Not at all. In fact, it is a more conscious decision because driving it would be primarily focused on the city. We would only see or expect a few intercity movements of station travel coming on this car. . This is meant to be driven within the urban area. It's got a good speed overall. So like in Delhi today all over, the speed limit is 50 kmph maximum. You can't drive more than that. Moreover, safety also takes a big toll if speed is more.
Ramesh Somani- Do you think a lot of two-wheelers consumers would switch to Comet?
Gaurav Gupta-Well, at this point, we would expect that. For that matter, this will appeal to a wide range of people. One thing important is desirability. The form factor is new. You fall in love with the car. You want this car. The second part then comes about is the entire rationality of the running economics. So this car, the charging cost on a monthly basis is less than a pizza or less than two cups of coffee. If you're doing around 1000km a month, the charging cost is Rs 519 right here in Delhi. That tells you the kind of economics you get benefit also benefit from when you move to the Comet. So overall, as you talked about, whether it is two-wheelers or whether it's a second car in the family for the errand car for that matter, or for yourself, for the youngsters when they're going out in the evening with a cool quotient, this car will be appealing to everyone.
Ramesh Somani- What's the EV percentage in the percentage of your total sales, and what is the future looking like?
Gaurav Gupta-We did close to about 50,000 cars overall last year as a company, and this year, we are targeting somewhere upwards of 80,000 units as a company overall across the portfolio. And then, when I combine the ZS EV volume and the Comet expected volume, we would be somewhere upwards of 25%of our portfolio would be electric vehicles this year. This year itself is not bad at all. That means we are committed to moving that number higher and higher.
Ramesh Somani-What's your take on charging infrastructure?
Gaurav Gupta-The charging infrastructure is increasing faster and going faster than we think. And in fact, I would just add one more point- that 90% to 95% of customers are more than happy with just the home charger serving all the requirements of their mobility. So with that realistic situation where home charging is actually the best solution. So infrastructure outside only just complements and adds to that occasional drive that you may be having outside the city.
Ramesh Somani-Will you be giving a charging gun with this car? Will you install a charging point wherever required?
Gaurav Gupta- We started with the ZS EV. Also, we were the first in the country to provide an entire home charging solution, and installation also was complimentary to our customers and continues to be similar to the Comet.
Ramesh Somani-Where does MG stand in the global proposition?
Gaurav Gupta- MG was born in Abingdon in Oxford. In fact, as we speak, this is going to be our 100th year in the second half of this year in the September-October time frame, MG as a brand would be completing 100 iconic years.
Ramesh Somani- Tell me something about the diverse culture in MG Motor India.
Gaurav Gupta- Interestingly, you caught that, Ramesh.Right from the very beginning, diversity has been one of our core pillars. In fact, we have four pillars - diversity, innovation, community service and customer experience. Before the start of the operation itself, we were talking about how we have to reach a 50-50% of gender diversity in the company. As we speak, we are at about 37%. Correct, including our workforce on the shop floor also. Right. And we are on our way to reaching 50%; if not this year, then within next year for sure. And it brings a lot of collaborative work, better viewpoints, and better teamwork.
Ramesh Somani-Tell us the price point. Okay, I know you won't say that, but if this car is priced under ten lakhs, this would be a good package overall for everything. So will it be priced under ten lakhs?
Gaurav Gupta-I can only tell you that we will not disappoint you, and this will be a very attractive package. We hope to try to keep it as per your expectations.