Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra will invest 120 billion rupees ($1.44 billion) in its electric vehicles unit, it said on Thursday, as the company beat fourth-quarter profit estimates on steady sales of its sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

The company also said it will sell some assets associated with its EV car business to the electric unit, Mahindra Electric Automobile for 7.96 billion rupees.

Mahindra currently offers one EV model - the XUV400 - and said that it will launch its new range of EVs by next year. The unit's success is also imperative for Mahindra's plans to list the EV subsidiary, the company's Managing Director Anish Shah had told Reuters in January.

Meanwhile, Mahindra, whose car portfolio is almost entirely SUVs such as Scorpio and Thar, sold 27.2% more SUVs in the three months to March 31 from a year earlier.

Utility vehicles (UV) accounted for more than half of passenger vehicle (PV) sales in India, rising 31% year-on-year, according to an industry body while PV sales have risen to record levels over the last two fiscal years.

The company said standalone profit after tax rose 31.6% to 20.38 billion rupees ($244.06 million), beating analysts' estimates of 19.61 billion rupees as per LSEG data.

The company's automotive business brings in almost two-thirds of total revenue, which rose 11.2% to 251.09 billion rupees, beating analysts' average estimate of 240.25 billion rupees. ($1 = 83.4873 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Meenakshi Maidas and Varun Hebbalalu in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Varun H K)