WATCH | Could Mahindra's Atom be the answer to affordable electric mobility in SA?
In earlier years, Chinese and Indian cars were not the most aesthetically pleasing to look at. Things have improved for the better over years and can we, with a fair amount of certainty, say that today’s offerings from Haval (China) and Mahindra (India) are far removed from the Genesis.
In Mahindra’s case, they’ve hit the nail on the head with their new XUV300. What a gorgeous little car! Both the exterior and interior are on-point, and can you now look at Mahindra and give that nod of approval when it comes to design.
It would prove, then, that there’s no reason to ever take a step back by reverting to the design ethos of those earlier cars. The XUV300, for Mahindra, is a new era and it is a clear indication of where the Indian automaker is heading in terms of future designs.
The Mahindra Atom might not be the most beautiful car ever made, but it aims to serve a purpose that goes beyond the surface.
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The Atom was first showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo in India, but two years later a near-production-ready vehicle was revealed. And according to Mahindra, the Atom will go on-sale in its homeland in the third quarter of 2020.
The Atom will be powered by an electric motor that can propel it to a top speed of 70km/h. Potential owners will be able to swap out the Atom’s battery pack, which will allow them to use a fresh battery instead of waiting for the current one to finish its charge.
On the inside, the Atom takes a bit of a different approach. In front, the driver is the only passenger, while a rear bench allows seating for up to three adults. The sparse interior looks to be a step back for the Indian automaker, but the car is equipped with 4G connectivity.
Given that the Atom is an affordable alternative to electric mobility, one can understand the undertaken design ethos and minimalistic approach to the interior. But if Mahindra’s done its research and this design is the way to go, then electric mobility could become more accessible to a greater audience.
Mahindra's commitment to an electric future
Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa, said: "It is perhaps a little-known fact, but Mahindra pioneered electric mobility in India. Models such as the all-electric compact E2O has been on sale since 2013, following committed investment into R&D in the decade before that.
"Today Mahindra Electric manufactures a range of sedans, hatchbacks and quadricycles - such as the new Atom - while Mahindra are working on electric versions of popular models such as the XUV300. It further invests into other electric mobility solutions through subsidiaries such as Pininfarina and SsangYong."
Gupta further revealed to Wheels24 that Mahindra is actively studying the viability of electric vehicles in the South African market. At the 2020 Auto Expo, Mahindra also showcased electric versions of its KUV100 and XUV300, aptly called the eKUV and eXUV. These cars, says Gupta, are included in the market study.
Mahindra is an automaker who focuses greatly on mass mobility, hence its vehicles, including the Atom, are aimed at the more affordable segments of the market. Gupta says that Mahindra's sister company, Pininfarina, will cater to the higher end of the market with their 1900HP (1415kW) Battista.
Gupta concludes: "As an aside, we would like to add our voice to the rest of the industry in calling on the (South African) government to support the development of the electric vehicle segment. In any market that you have seen a growth in electric or hybrid vehicle sales, this was as a result of government support through tax breaks, incentives or other policy changes."