Automakers charged up for electric vehicle drive, seeks govt spark

The imprint of electric vehicles could be seen at virtually every pavilion at the Auto Expo on Wednesday, but automakers expressed the need of a firm electric vehicle policy to address the issues in adoption of the new technology.

As many as 65 products including EV concepts, and 14 new models, were unveiled by Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Kia Motors, Tata Motors, Renault, Honda and other automakers on the first day of the expo.

There was a consensus on the need for the government to act as a facilitator for the transition besides offering incentives to attract investments. Besides, clarity was also needed on the policy front, they said.

Sumit Sawhney, country CEO and managing director, Renault India Operations, told DNA Money, "EV growth in the country is inevitable, but what we need at present is a greater clarity from the government in terms of policies and infrastructure."

When asked if Renault will chip in with investment to create some EV-related infrastructure before the ecosystem gets created by government, Sawhney said, "We don't want to get into those things (infrastructure) as it is not our core business. There are other companies who can do that."

Renault, showcased a bevy of cars, including Trezor – an all-electric Grand Tourer concept car, at the Auto Expo 2018.

Hyundai, which unveiled concept Ioniq EV, expressed a need for National EV policy, which will address the issue of affordability of such vehicles.

"There should also be a scrapage policy to facilitate customers to replace their older vehicles to address early stage emissions problem. Also, 40% of cost in EV is battery. The intention is right but one has to look at the product, affordability and infrastructure related to EVs," Hyundai's director sales and marketing Rakesh Shrivastava said.

Japanese firm Honda said it will wait for a clarity in policy for EVs before firming up its plans in India. It also unveiled Honda Sports EV Concept and Honda NeuV, a concept.

Honda Cars India president and CEO Yoichiro Ueno said, "We are requesting that there should be a roadmap for battery charging station, which EV society in India trying to achieve. Otherwise, it is too difficult to decide what products to bring to India. We are developing a variety of EVs."

But, considering the size of India, it will take time to establish charging stations. So, the country could look at a combination of hybrid and EVs. India is also a price sensitive market, and EVscurrently cost at least twice the comparable model with ICE (internal combusion engine), he said.

Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) which pioneered EV cars in India when it acquired Bengaluru-based Reva in 2010 launched a number of of EV concept vehicles.

The company also launched a cloud based platform for EV, which it claims will accelerate the turnaround time for creating new vehicle.

"Issues related to clarity on policies and infrastructure remain but I am sure it can be sorted out in due time" Goenka said. M&M's push for EVs comes on the backdrop of government's push on the segment in a big way as it expects around 5 million of it to be sold by around next 15 years. As per a report released by Centre's think tank Niti Aayog earlier this month, the accelerated adoption of electric and shared vehicles could save about $60 billion in diesel and petrol costs while cutting down as much as 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions in India by 2030. This would result in an annual diesel and petrol reduction of 156 million tonne of oil equivalent, making a net-fuel cost saving of approximately Rs 3.9 lakh crore.

The showcase of EV concepts on the first day of the expo on underlines the industry's attempt to move towards an alternate for fossil fuels which have been gaining ground following spurt in pollution levels in India. It is also in line with government's mission to move towards full electric mobility by 2030.

With global warming fears looming large, globally also many countries have fixed targets for completely doing away with fossil fuel vehicles. The UK has announced a ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting 2040.

By 2050, all cars on the country's road will have zero emissions. Paris has also planned to do away with petrol and diesel fuelled cars. While China has plans to cap its automobile carbon emissions by 2030.

Source- DNA