Hybrid electric cars appear to be replacing more and more of diesel cars in the country, while the pick up in the sales of fully-electric cars is slower.

The response to hybrid EVs, particularly strong hybrid electric vehicles (SHEVs), has been encouraging.

Leading players such as Toyota and Maruti have seen their hybrid vehicle sales soar in recent months. Maruti’s hybrid vehicle sales grew to more than 14,000-plus units during the April 2023 to January 2024 period compared with about 8,500 units in the year-ago period.

Toyota is also seeing a strong spurt in demand for its hybrid SUVs. Toyota’s Innova HyCross has clocked sales of over 50,000 units since its launch in November 2022.

The two Japanese OEMs offering hybrid in key models do reflect that consumers are finding hybrid as a replacement for diesel vehicles. As the share of diesel cars declines, hybrid cars are likely to catch up faster.

Industry representatives and analysts believe that hybrids will play an increasingly important role in the transition from ICE to EV era.

value proposition

“Consumers who drive more than 15,000 km in a year may find hybrid to be a value proposition considering the upfront cost customers have to pay for owning hybrids. An EV is the best solution for consumers once we have batteries with high range (700-km range) and better charging infra which definitely is a concern for inter-city travel right now,” Puneet Gupta, Director, S&P Global Mobility, told businessline.

Hybrid vehicles come in several varieties. There are three common core components – motor, battery and inverter. SHEVs will combine these three components with a traditional ICE engine. Plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, will have three components, an ICE engine and a charging port. Fully-electric vehicles will have three core parts and an external charging port.

“In the current environment, SHEVs offer several advantages over ICE vehicles. On an average 60 per cent of the time SHEVs run on EV mode. They can have up to 44 per cent higher fuel efficiency than corresponding ICE vehicles. Also, they cut up to 30 per cent CO2 over a corresponding ICE car. Additional cost at factory level (without taxes/subsidies) will be about ₹3 lakh,” said Rahul Bharti, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

Toyota’s SHEV models include HyCross, Hyryder, Vellfire, and Camry Hybrid, while Maruti’s current offerings include Grand Vitara and Invicto.

“We believe that all xEVs (full electric, PHEVs, SHEVs and Fuel Cell EVs) are important to meet the carbon-neutrality goals and will continue to evaluate the options based on the needs of society and consumers,” said Vikram Gulati, Country Head and Executive Vice-President - Corporate Affairs and Governance, Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

Globally, sales of Toyota’s hybrid EVs climbed steeply to 3.4 million units in 2023, from 2.6 million in 2022. Sales of its battery EVs grew to 1.04 lakh units in 2023 (25,000 units).

More hybrids

Gupta said that other passenger vehicle OEMs would also come up with more hybrid offerings targeted at buyers who aren’t ready for battery electric cars. “The hybrids being low in running cost will be a consumer choice, especially in B&C Segment vehicles. While in A Segment CNG may emerge as a better solution till the time we next gen of hybrid cars,” he added.

India’s National Green Tribunal recommends promoting both hybrid and battery EVs. EVs should aggressively be promoted. However, till the time battery EVs take over, hybrid EVs should be promoted.

However, higher GST and road tax on hybrid EVs are reported to be discouraging the adoption of SHEVs and PHEVs in India. Globally, hybrid EVs are taxed lower than ICE cars. But in India, the absolute tax on hybrids is higher than ICE cars.

The industry is of the view that rationalisation of GST on SHEVs and PHEVs will accelerate the adoption of hybrid EVs in the country, thereby aiding the transition to cleaner vehicles.