Jatin Ahuja, owner of Big Boy Toyz shares his thoughts on the electric vehicle scene in India and anticipations of its future
Big Boy Toyz or BBT as is better known as, needs no introduction among the car fanatics. It is India’s finest pre-owned luxury cars retailer, with over 12 years of experience in the business and a tempting client/customer list. We get into a quick conversation with Jatin Ahuja, founder and owner of Big Boy Toyz, on the advent of electric vehicles in India and their future here.
Q: We live in a time where we can witness the onset of the EV revolution in India, or should I call it the ‘Great Indian EV revolution’, as we as Indians are accustomed to. We would start by getting to know your ops and thoughts on the current EV space here, from a seller’s POV and as a buyer/ enthusiast.
The future of EVs in the country is extremely strong and with India sprinting towards digitalization, the infrastructure part of it shall also be taken care of. The key benefits to the EV buyers would be cut-downs on fuel expenses, major slashes in road taxes and GST, lesser pollution translating to better health, lesser noise pollution, etc. EVs would also benefit the buyers with slightly better dynamics, as most modern-day EVs have better weight distributions than petrol/diesel cars. EV buyers would also be able to save on service/maintenance costs as these require minimal maintenance. You are also offered maximum battery warranties by manufacturers, so savings are decent there as well.
Further for the sellers, EVs will be a fresh market to tap into, they just need to understand what TG will the EVs be catering to. The government policies are also currently in favor of EVs and their retailing.
Q: Regarding the government’s EV policies and the rising fuel prices, which we suspect to have an illicit relationship with EV adoption here, do you think these are being implemented too quickly or are too aggressive in nature?
By 2030 or even 2025 probably, the country will have embraced the shift to electric mobility, as a lot of factors are already in play. However, to bring about any kind of massive change or revolution, a leap of faith has to be taken and changes are to be brought about on war footing, to ensure the maximum positive outcome. Apart from infrastructure, the country’s landscape, education of people in terms of automobiles or particularly EVs, adaptability of consumers across all segments will also play major roles in determining the success of EVs here.
The Infrastructure in India is still under development. Tenders need to be placed by the government to deploy more companies who can build more charging stations in malls, parking lots etc. Cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata will soon see hastened development in EV infrastructure, as the demand for these is rising steadily in these regions.
As a leading player in the pre-owned luxury auto market, we at Big Boy Toyz always look at catering to consumer needs. If the EV revolution takes over soon, and if they adapt to the same, we shall be more than happy to cater to the demands of customers who are on the hunt for pre-worshipped luxury EVs.
Q: Even the DC fast charging would take around 30 minutes for most EVs today. Don’t you think this would be a concern even for the well-off, who can afford money but not time, especially while attempting a long drive or a getaway?
Any revolution needs gradual evolution. So, the EV manufacturers will have to gear up for the challenge in order to ensure maximum output in minimum time. However, it must be brought to the notice that today’s discerning consumers are also quite keen on reducing carbon footprints and the lifestyle and approach are changing holistically. In the current scenario of people focusing more on private mobility at a given time, any average household looks at having two vehicles or at least a second 2-wheeler for travel. Consumers with pre-owned luxury cars usually have 2-3 vehicles in a single household. Thus, for them, the charging time should not matter. However, when on the move this will be an issue. Again, if the car can run a certain minimum of kilometers every single charge, and the destination has charging equipment, then probably this might not rise up to be an issue. Looking at the larger picture, if the consumers are willing to give it a try – then why not, as it is just a trial-and-error method that would lead to perfection and evolution of innovations, in the long run.
Q: As an add-on to the prevailing practicality concerns of EVs, What do you think about a hybrid adoption? Don’t they strike a beautiful balance between environment and practicality/ everyday usability? Without forgetting the market failures of many hybrids you and I are familiar with, are they advisable?
Hybrids can work only if the manufacturers can pull it off keeping all aspects in mind. Positives of both worlds or rather innovations are exceptionally good only if they are followed to the T. The pros should be enhanced, and cons eliminated. Manufacturers should definitely test the feasibility of hybrids as well. Education of consumers on the hybrid concept would also play a major role here.
Hybrid cars are more confidence-inspiring for the daily commute, as there are two powerhouses- fuel-based and electric, which can mostly be switched between in no time. Even while ensuring smooth and exciting performance, a hybrid powertrain does bring down emissions greatly.
Q: Even while it is too early to comment on this yet, what are your anticipations on the impact of EVs on the used car space?
If the infrastructure builds up soon, the pre-owned market will see the entry of EVs a year or so later, post their initial introduction into the market. As and when more and more innovations premiere in the various EV models, the wealthy will want to purchase high-end cars with the maximum innovation and technology onboard – in short, the latest models. So definitely the pre-owned market shall pick up on EVs as well. We need to understand that the consumers are the same in the luxury pre-owned market, who have a fetish for high-end cars and like to change their vehicles at regular intervals – the maximum span being a year or two.
Q: Which segment do you think would bring in more traction in the Indian used car (EV) market? Daily drivers (something like the Model 3), luxury (the EQS maybe), or sports/performance cars like the Taycan?
For India, the situation will completely be dependent on the infrastructure that is being set up to cater to the EVs, along with the landscape of the country. There are a lot of EV brands/models available in the market that are sustainable and with long-term visions like Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Tata, Mahindra, MG, Hyundai, and so on.
I think the success of EVs in the used car space would be dependent on factors like, brand sustainability, battery life and range, additional costs involved- such as periodic maintenance expenses (which are again, minimal in EVs) or insurance, and the actual practicality and usability for a given user. Well, the last one would differ from person to person as here factors like the size of his family, daily usage/distance to be covered and driver behavior are all that matter.
Both markets are interrelated. The used EV market grows with the new car market. Tesla EVs will be more luxurious compared to MG that has already set foot in the Indian market and has been received well by the audience here. But the brand images are totally different. Thus, there are plenty of factors defining the sales success of EVs, more of which we would get to know only as we see these vehicles surface in the pre-owned space.
The shift to electric sportscars/ supercars might, in my opinion, be a gradual process. It would happen only after people are accustomed to the utility/ luxury EVs here. Electric sportscars will have a totally different audience as they come with powerful electric motors and the battery will be drained out quicker compared to the rest, essentially meaning rocketing performance and drooping range figures.
Q:The used car market revolves around the term ‘depreciation, something which we are familiar with, in the case of ICE vehicles. What do you think, would define the depreciation in EVs?
The Indian market is fairly new for EVs. We need to accept EVs at large first and account for the aftersales and maintenance. Comparing the depreciation of ICE with EV is still a very early talk for now. We shall evaluate it for some time before deciding on the same.
Q: Were it a random wild guess, which brand do you think would offer the maximum residual value?
As of now, Mercedes and Tesla can be predicted to offer the most residual value as both these brands have promising brand sustainability and advanced product lineups. But again, consider this a random wild guess…
Q: The performance segment is witnessing the introduction of many exciting EVs, the upcoming Taycan be cited as a classic example. How far do you think would these eat into the market shares of conventional supercars/sportscars? On a more absurd note, how likely is it that a buyer looking for a 911 Turbo would switch to a Taycan?
A person purchasing a sports car will always look for speed, acceleration, mileage (as in the kilometers that can be munched before the next stop at the fuel station), and less time spent on refueling. If these aspects can be beaten by the EV models in the segment, then probably the shift will not even take 5 years. It all depends on what kind of benefits the user is getting out of these vehicles.
Q: Will the advent of EVs accelerate modern ownership methods like leasing and their acceptance here?
Leasing and other attractive vehicle owning schemes will be constant amongst all the vehicles. The leasing option is a very interesting ownership model. It is not yet popular in India, and there exists a handsome opportunity to implement leasing on the EV vehicles, which will not only accelerate the EV sales here but will also improve the confidence and sentiments of the buyer.