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India and Electric Cars: Are we Ready?

24 Oct 2018 by Business Traveller India
India and Electric Cars: Are we Ready?

Late last year, the Indian government announced an overly optimistic goal of 100% electrification of all cars manufactured in India by 2030. However, the plan was later scrapped and a more realistic goal of 30% by 2030 was put in place. The lack of infrastructure, especially public charging stations, and high initial cost are two of the biggest impediments for the growth of the Electric Vehicle (EV) market in India. The BNEF report states that only 2000 highway-capable electric cars were sold in 2017. However, the number is set to jump to 30,000 units by 2022, thanks to the launch of new models planned for the next few years.

Only two all-electric car models are currently on sale, both by Mahindra & Mahindra. The automobile company entered the EV market early by acquiring Reva Electric Car Company. It’s also the only Indian company to participate in the all-electric Formula E racing championship. Tata is the other Indian manufacturer which has heavily invested in the R&D of electric cars and has plans to introduce several models in the coming years. On the contrary, hybrid cars have been on sale in India for several years and slowly gaining in popularity. Cars like Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are now only available in hybrid variants in the country.

Some of the most popular hybrid cars in the international markets, including the Toyota Prius and BMW i8 sports car, are also available in India, while all the new Lexus cars being brought to the country are hybrids. Volvo is another brand which is betting big on electric and hybrid cars and offers its XC90 full-size SUV in the hybrid variant in India. However, the number of all-electric and hybrid car models in India is going to substantially increase in the next two years. Here are six exciting EVs and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) scheduled to be launched in the country before 2020.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

Porsche will launch the third-generation Cayenne in India by the end of this year, and the German automaker plans to add the E-Hybrid variant to further expand the large-sized SUV’s portfolio in India. The Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid will be brought to India as a Completely Built Unit (CBU). The hybrid SUV is powered by a 3-litre V6 engine that produces 340 hp along with an electric motor capable of making 136hp. The Cayenne E-Hybrid has a range of 44km and a maximum speed of 135kmph in the pure electric mode. porsche.com

Mahindra KUV100 EV

Mahindra is the only automaker to offer all-electric cars in India and the company plans to further expand its line-up of EVs in the next few years. The manufacturer is all set to introduce an electrified version of its compact SUV, the KUV100, by the end of this year. Called the e-KUV100, the EV has a range of over 140km and will be offered with fast charging as an optional extra which can charge 80 per cent of the battery in less than an hour. The electric compact SUV was showcased at this year’s Auto Expo and has been seen testing on the roads. Mahindra is yet to officially reveal the EV’s specifications and launch date. mahindra.com

Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid

Maruti Suzuki India is one of the companies which is betting big on electric cars in India and already has two hybrids on sale in the country. The manufacturer is in the process of bringing more hybrid models to India. One of the first to hit the Indian shores will be the Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid, which was showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo. The hybrid hatchback has been on sale in Japan since 2017 and is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine paired to an MGU-E (motor generator unit – electric). It is capable of running on pure electric power, but only for short distances and under low load conditions. marutisuzuki.com

Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai plans to introduce the all-electric version of its Kona compact SUV in India
next year. Although Kona isn’t Hyundai’s first EV in the company’s international line-up, it will be the Korean automaker’s first ever electric car in India. The Hyundai Kona is the first of the new breed of affordable EVs and has a Tesla-like range. In international markets, the Kona EV is available in two different battery configurations: an entry-level 39.2 kWh battery pack with a 350km of range and a higher capacity 64 kWh pack with a 500km range (both under European Driving Cycle). Hyundai might bring the electric SUV in limited numbers through the CKD (completely knocked down) route. hyundai.com

Renault Zoe EV

This year’s Auto Expo, like most other car shows across the world, revolved around electric and hybrid cars and French automobile company Renault showcased the performance-focussed Zoe e-Sport at the motor show. Though it might never go on sale in India, the standard variant of the Zoe EV has been seen testing on Indian roads and is rumoured to be launched in the country late next year. The standard Zoe EV is powered by a 41kWh battery that gives it a respectable driving range of 400km (European driving cycle). A standard 7kW charger takes 8-9 hours to fully charge the battery, but a quick charger can replenish 80 per cent of the charge in just 65 minutes. renault.co.uk

Nissan Note e-Power

Nissan LEAF is one of the highest selling EVs in the world; however, lack of proper infrastructure for electric vehicles in many countries often proves to be the biggest constraints. Nissan’s e-Power hybrid system is the answer for such markets. It doesn’t have a plug-in socket and uses a petrol engine as a generator to charge the battery pack. Nissan is currently testing the Note e-Power hybrid hatchback in India and is evaluating the market for a possible 2019 launch. The Note’s 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine is used as a range extender for the 80kW (108hp) electric motor that drives the front wheels. Nissan claims the car only uses 1 litre of petrol for every 37km of distance covered. nissan.in

Verdict: 

Major automobile manufacturers, technology companies and even oil producing giants like Shell have made huge investments in the electrification of cars, while buyers are increasingly becoming more environmentally conscious, helping the transition from combustion engines to green mobility to happen quicker than anyone anticipated. With EVs and hybrid cars becoming more affordable than ever before and a long list of battery-powered models coming to the country in the next few years, India is finally starting to make positive strides towards a green and sustainable future.

SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex body representing leading vehicle and engine manufacturers, predicts new vehicle sales in the country at 100 per cent pure electric vehicles by 2047, with the following road map:

  • All new vehicle sales for intra-city public transport fleets to be pure electric vehicles by 2030
  • Forty per cent of new vehicle sales in the country to be pure electric vehicles by 2030
  • Sixty per cent of new vehicle sales in the country to employ greener technologies like hybrids and other alternate fuels by 2030.
  • ‘Make in India’ : The Indian automobile industry also aims to become a leading global hub for design, manufacture and export of pure electric vehicles.

Dhiram Shah

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