BMW has launched three electric vehicles in India in the past six months, including the midsize i4 sedan, which claims the country’s longest range at 590 km on a full charge. The surge indicated a change in the German automaker’s game in the Indian market. It had been a bit slow in the luxury electric vehicle race, with rivals Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar offering plenty of options. BMW now expects electric vehicles to account for more than 10% of its volumes in the country by the end of next year.
Mercedes-Benz is also preparing for other launches. The EQS sedan, which offers a range of 700 km, will be launched later this year. The response to its first Indian electric model, the EQC launched in October 2020, has been so strong that the company has expanded its retail footprint to 50 cities and 94 outlets. The second batch of EQC allocated to India had also been exhausted, said Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India. He also plans to assemble the EQS locally. “We will be the first luxury automaker to locally manufacture a luxury electric vehicle in India,” Schwenk said.
The third German player, Audi, has launched five electric cars under the e-tron brand in 2021. Balbir Singh Dhillon, the director of Audi India, said the response had been overwhelming, with the first two batches being sold out even before their arrival. for the country. “We aim to reach 15% of our share of electric vehicle sales by 2025-26,” Dhillon said.
Volvo’s all-electric XC40 Recharge is also set to debut in India this year. The Swedish automaker is already marketing the XC90 Recharge, a plug-in hybrid, in India.
According to the Motor Dealers Federation of India, sales of electric vehicles tripled in the year ended March 2022. About 4.29 lakh electric vehicles were sold in the country, compared to 1.35 lakh l ‘last year. Of these, passenger vehicles accounted for approximately 17,802 units. It was also a triple jump from the 4,984 electric photovoltaic units sold in 2020-21. However, sales of electric vehicles still represent only a fraction of the entire photovoltaic industry. In 2021-2022, 27.26 lakh PV were sold in the country, representing a 14% year-on-year growth from the 23.88 lakh PV sold at retail the previous year.
Although electric passenger vehicles represent less than one percent of overall PV sales today, sales are expected to accelerate as more automakers enter and battery capacity, range and charging infrastructure.
Currently, Tata Motors leads the electric passenger vehicle industry in India with an 85% market share, driven mainly by its Nexon e-SUV and Tigor e-sedan. In 2021-22, Tata Motors electric vehicle retail sales were 15,198 units; it had only sold 3,523 units in 2020-21. Vivek Srivatsa, head of marketing, sales and service strategy at Tata Motors, said the company was working to offer more models at different price points. “By 2025, we will have a portfolio of 10 electric vehicles that would include the recently introduced Curvv and Avinya concept,” he said.
Curvv, an electric SUV coupé, will sit above the Nexon EV and should be launched in two years. The Avinya, which is expected in 2025, will be aimed at the mass market.
Faster adoption of electric passenger vehicles faces two major hurdles: limited charging infrastructure and range anxiety. Automakers are working to fix it. “The Avinya will support ultra-fast charging, pumping out a minimum range of 500km in less than 30 minutes,” Srivatsa said. In partnership with the Tata Power group company, Tata Motors has also expanded the network of charging stations to 1,500.
Audi has so far installed 100 chargers in India, including high-altitude locations like Leh. Chargers are also being installed at Skoda and Volkswagen Group brand dealerships to help expand the network.
MG Motor, which has a good presence in the EV space, has partnered with fuel retailer Bharat Petroleum to bolster charging infrastructure. MG’s first electric vehicle in India, the ZS, was launched in 2020. It was updated in March this year with a larger battery and is receiving around 1,000 bookings every month. Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commercial Officer of MG, said the company is taking concrete steps to strengthen the electric vehicle ecosystem. It will launch a new crossover EV, which will be priced between Rs10-15 lakh bracket, in the first quarter of 2023. “We expect to achieve 25% of the total sale of the new ZS EV and the upcoming EV,” Gupta said.
Korean siblings Hyundai and Kia have also fielded numerous electric vehicles. Kia recently opened reservations for the EV6, which offers a range of 528 km and super-fast charging. Hyundai will launch the Ioniq 5 on the market later this year, in addition to the existing Kona electric SUV. The Ioniq 5 will likely be assembled in India, which will help the company keep prices down.
Honda is taking a hybrid route to going green. It recently launched the City e:HEV, which features a self-charging dual-motor hybrid electric system connected to a 1.5-litre petrol engine. Hybrid technology can improve fuel efficiency to 26.5 km per liter (45% more) and reduce emissions. “Given the charging infrastructure currently available in India, a strong hybrid electric offering is the most practical solution to ensure a smooth transition to an electrified future,” said Yuichi Murata, Director, Marketing and Sales, Honda Cars. India Ltd.
The other Japanese giant, Toyota, plans to invest Rs 4,800 crore for the local production of electric vehicle components in India. The company has also entered into an agreement with the government’s automotive testing agency iCAT to study and evaluate its advanced fuel cell electric vehicle, Mirai, which runs on hydrogen, on Indian roads and in climatic conditions. “Toyota Kirloskar will continue to focus on mass electrification by continuously working for the localization of electrified vehicle parts that not only supply domestic markets at competitive prices, but also export,” said Vikram Gulati, Vice President executive of Toyota Kirloskar Motor.
Even though automakers are slowly stepping up their EV game, electric two-wheelers are dominating EV sales. While purely electric players like Hero Electric, Ather, Ola and Okinawa have taken the plunge, traditional OEMs are gaining momentum. Bajaj Auto sold 3,300 units of the Chetak electric scooter in the January-March quarter and has an order book of 15,000 units. Rakesh Sharma, chief executive of Bajaj Auto, said EV was a big opportunity for the company globally. The company is also investing Rs300 crore in setting up an electric two-wheeler unit at its manufacturing plant in Akurdi, Pune, where the original Chetak scooter was manufactured. It will have the capacity to produce five lakh electric vehicles per year.
Bajaj’s big rival, Hero MotoCorp, owns 35% of the capital of electric two-wheeler startup Ather Energy. Hero also announced its own electric two-wheeler, which is set to launch on July 1. “We want to ensure that through rigorous testing, the product we bring to market has the right quality and safety parameters,” said Niranjan Gupta. , chief financial officer of Hero MotoCorp. Hero has a partnership with Taiwan’s Gogoro for battery swap stations, which are expected to roll out this year.
Environmentally friendly product launches are just one of the many things automakers are doing to go green. For example, the Mercedes plant in Pune is powered entirely by green energy. It also reduced electricity and water consumption by 16% and waste by 8%.
Product recycling is also a major area of focus for luxury automakers, and it’s even more important for electric vehicles because of the large batteries they have. “We are developing highly environmentally friendly and energy efficient products in their market segments. We follow global standards and all Mercedes-Benz cars our customers drive are at least 85% recyclable and 95% recoverable,” Schwenk said.
A Tata Motors spokesman said the company is committed to achieving 100% renewable energy for its operations. “Our operations in India strive to maximize internal renewable energy generation as well as offsite renewable energy supply. These efforts include a solar carport with a historic capacity of 6.2 MWP (megawatts peak) at our automotive plant in Pune,” the spokesperson said.
MG has a partnership with Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, where it has adopted hybrid wind and solar power to supply 4.85MW of electricity to its plant in Halol, Gujarat. This, Gupta said, will reduce around 2 lakh metric tons of CO2 over the next 15 years.