Sustainability is more than just a buzzword, today. Solar powered homes, effective waste management, and electric cars, are now a reality. In all this, a Jetsons future does not seem like a farfetched dream anymore. While the auto industry has already gone electric, there is still a lot of research and development, and refining needed to make that a possibility.
We understood this early on, and set out ambitious targets for our electric vehicles (EVs), back in 2012 – well before we got into Formula E. It was also way before our country announced the goal of 30% EV’s by 2030. Our vision was to create a full spectrum of products, from an affordable electric car right through to the most prestigious EV on the market.
This is where motorsport came in. In 2014, we entered the all-electric street racing championship with a vision to leverage race technology and innovation to develop EVs. Traditionally, motorsports has been a test bed for automakers to develop technology, or for marketing purposes – or both. While Formula E has helped us put India on the global map of motorsport and build brand Mahindra’s presence internationally, at its crux, brand building is not why we’re here. We’re here because of technology. In the words of Mahindra Racing Team Principal, Dilbagh Gill, says it too – “we’re not a racing team, we’re an automaker that happens to race.”
To formalise our electric mobility vision – of leveraging race technology to shape the future of electric mobility – we put in place our Race to Road programme, which is spearheaded by the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team. The result?
On one hand, we’ve contributed to the EV mass market: While regenerative braking is already a norm in EVs, our race team’s been pivotal in the powertrain development for Mahindra Electric. The latter has consequently successfully upgraded systems from low-voltage to high-voltage. Our acquisition of SsangYong, South Korea, in 2011, has further helped Mahindra Electric and Mahindra Research Valley to collaborate with them, on R&D and production of EVs. We further went on to establish a strategic alliance with Ford on their electric car models, which includes work on battery packs, electric powertrains, and software technology. These alliances are collectively helping us pave the road to a carbon-neutral future.
On the other hand, we’ve made electric mobility aspirational with the world’s fastest electric car: Nick Heidfeld, our race team’s development driver, also the chief development driver for Automobili Pininfarina, once aptly explained – ”Aesthetically a car can look beautiful and the technology can be good but it also needs to have the optimum driving experience…In racing, things are developed earlier than anywhere else, so this is where we can bring some expertise.” The Pininfarina Battista – our all-electric luxury hyper GT developed by Automobili Pininfarina – is built on powertrain technology and software that came out of learnings from Formula E.
“In less than five years, from making the E2O…we have gone to make the world's fastest electric car – the Battista.”
~ Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal, Mahindra Racing
Who thought electric cars could be exciting. Who thought electric cars in India too, would be high performing vehicles. Right? But, that’s precisely what we aimed to do – to make the unthinkable, a reality. And this, is only the beginning.