India turns to electric vehicles despite lacking both technology and minerals to produce them.
Governments are pushing automakers to invest in electric vehicles technology as fears of climate change and global warming force their hand.
In January 2018, electric vehicle sales were less than 1% of the 90 million vehicles sold every year. In 2017, the dominant player in the American market was Tesla with sales of 100,000 vehicles. Globally, Nissan Leaf is the top-selling electric vehicle and China is the biggest electric vehicle market. In the first half of 2018, 421,293 electric vehicles were sold in the Middle Kingdom. Most estimate the sales in 2019 to have increased significantly. Suffice to say, sales of electric vehicles are growing fast, especially in China.
On June 13, two dramatic pieces of news hit the wires. First, a Chinese company “announced a massive 23 billion dollar investment in the production 1 million electric cars and 500 GWh of batteries per year.” Second, Toyota’s sleekly designed ultra-compact electric vehicle caught attention. More than its sleekness, analysts hailed the vehicle’s new batteries. Apparently, they eliminate the liquid electrolyte in batteries. This means that batteries lose bulk, last longer and become less likely to catch fire. It seems the battery revolution is on in full sway and Japan is leading the way.
2019 Budget showed us that the government is all fired up about transforming India into a global EV manufacturing centre. Who could have imagined Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing an additional tax benefit of Rs 1.5 Lakh on the interest paid on loans taken for the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs)? But yes, this has happened. Besides, the government is also reducing the GST rate on electric vehicles from 12 per cent to 5 per cent.
Currently, only a handful of electric four-wheelers are available in India. The choices are limited.
However, the scenario is going to completely change in the coming twelve months. Several major carmakers are expected to launch their EVs in the country. While domestic players like Maruti Suzuki India and Tata Motors are lining up with their products, overseas carmakers like Hyundai, MG (Morris Garages) and Audi will soon be driving their electric vehicles into India.
Hyundai Kona electric SUV will be launched in India on July 9. Features like the closed-off front grille, twin headlight design with LED headlamps and DRLs, LED rear lamps and 17-inch alloy wheels give the upcoming EV a sporty look. Inside the cabin of Kona, there are features like 7-inch digital cluster and 8-inch touch screen. There are two battery options available with the international-spec Hyundai Kona — 39.2 kWh and 64.0 kWh. The electric SUV gets a permanent-magnet synchronous motor. While the driving range for the standard trim is 312 kms in a single charge, it is 482 kms in a single charge for the upper trim. At the moment, we are not sure which variant will be introduced in India. We are expecting Kona to be priced around Rs 25 lakh (ex-showroom).
Audi will introduce its electrically powered SUV e-tron in India by late 2019. There are two electric motors available with the all-wheel-drive vehicle. While the one at the front churns out 170 hp, the rear unit delivers 190 hp. The combined power output is 360 hp, with the torque figure touching 561 Nm. In boost mode, the power output increases to 408 hp and torque figure reaches 664 Nm. The 5-seater SUV gets a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery. It has a top speed of 200 kmph. Audi e-tron is coming to India through the CBU (Completely Built Up) route, with the price expected to hover around Rs 1.15 crore (ex-showroom, India).
Following the launch of Hector SUV, EZS electric SUV will be the second introduction of MG (Morris Garages) in India. The five-seater vehicle will be launched in India in December 2019. The carmaker has also tied up with Finland-based clean energy firm Fortum to install 50 KW DC fast charging stations across its showrooms in Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad by September 2019. MG EZS was unveiled in India in April 2019. It will be manufactured at the company’s Halol facility in Gujarat.
Tata Altroz EV
Tata Altroz EV is expected to be launched in India in less than two years. Based on the ALFA (Agile Light Flexible Advanced) architecture, the electric vehicle will be powered by a permanent magnet AC motor and offered with a single speed gearbox. The company claims a charging time of 60 minutes for Altroz EV, with a targeted range of 250-300 kms. It will have a length and width of 3,988 mm and 1,754 mm, respectively. The height will be 1,505 mm, while the wheelbase will measure 2,501 mm. The car will reportedly be priced over Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom).
Maruti Suzuki WagonR EV
Maruti Suzuki WagonR EV is expected to be launched in India in 2020. At the moment, there is not much information about this car. The motor options are not known right now. But speculations are that WagonR EV will have fast charging capabilities. The range will be between 150 kms and 200 kms. The price might be around Rs 10 lakh (ex-showroom).
Mahindra Electric eKUV100
The all-electric version of the KUV100 entry-level hatchback will soon take the place of the e2o Plus, which will be discontinued as it doesn’t meet upcoming safety regulations. Mahindra Electric also sells the eVerito sedan (starting from Rs 11.28 lakh, ex-showroom) and the eKUV100 could borrow that car’s 41PS/91Nm electric motor and 18.5kWh battery with 140km range. Though, Mahindra Electric has announced that the electric KUV’s powertrain will be more advanced. An upgraded electric motor and battery combination could help the final product get up to at least 150-180km of driving range. The car will reportedly be priced over Rs 9-10 lakh (ex-showroom).
All-electric hatchback with a claimed 400km driving range from its 40kWh battery also boasts semi-autonomous capabilities, and a brand new face. We’ve driven the Leaf in its new avatar, and like most EVs, found the convenience of two-pedal driving with the extra drop in speed from regenerative coasting hard to ignore, especially in city driving. We are expecting Leaf to be priced around Rs 30 lakh (ex-showroom).
Looking at the accelerated sales of electric vehicles in markets which have EV-linked incentives, both for the buyer and the manufacturer, the Indian government has taken a step in the right direction with the recently announced union budget. The announcement brings with it a reduction in GST on electric vehicles from 12 per cent to 5 per cent, which should result in lower prices of these vehicles for the buyer. Further, additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh rupees against loans taken to purchase an EV will help their favour. Currently, there’s slim pickings in the market for a potential EV buyer, with the only choices right now being the Mahindra Electric e2o Plus and eVerito, which combined accounted for annual sales of 3,600 units. But all that is set to change, and despite a lack of charging infrastructure currently and no clear roadmap for it, these are the manufacturers taking the first steps towards electrification in India.
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