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Auto industry is all charged about going electric

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 23, 2017

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India has a long way to go in e-mobility

Electric mobility is the new buzzword for car-makers across the world as the drive for cleaner emissions continues in full swing.

India has been hugely slow in contrast but things could just change with Bharat Stage VI norms just three years away, which will bring it closer to standards in Europe. Whether this will translate into achieving the Centre’s goal of seven million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2020 is still the million dollar question.

“Electric drive is the future,” says Roland Folger, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India. “That is why we are investing massively in a battery-electric fleet and in battery technology, including as an energy store for private and industrial use.”

Agrees Mahesh Babu, CEO, Mahindra Electric. “Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and there is no disputing this,” he says. “They are not only efficient in terms of energy usage but are also more economical than fossil fuel vehicles and are perfect in the current situation where cities are struggling with pollution and fast depleting fossil fuels.”

New plans

Ford announced plans to produce 13 electrified models by 2020 while Mercedes has targeted 10 by 2025. Volkswagen has created a new arm, Electrify America, which will build and maintain a cross-country network of over 200 DC charging stations.

Even as Tesla recently raised about $1.2 billion in fresh capital as the firm approaches production of its mass-market Model 3, Volvo Cars has announced a new target of one million electrified cars by 2025. It plans to offer at least two hybrid versions of every model in its range and releasing the first all-electric car in 2019.

Volvo Cars has developed two all new vehicle architectures for larger and smaller cars, scalable product architecture (SPA) and compact modular architecture (CMA), that can incorporate either hybrid or fully electric car technology, says Tom von Bonsdorff, Managing Director, Volvo Auto India, in an email interaction.

Its larger 90 series and 60 series cars are to be built on SPA, and the company will soon launch a global range of smaller 40 series cars on CMA. “All of these cars will have electrified versions and the one million electrified car target is a cumulative total,” he says.

PSA of France is also readying its its electric cars for 2019 while its French counterpart, Renault (along with ally, Nissan) is also going flat out in this effort on e-mobility.

Mercedes plans to kick off its EV portfolio with the GLC-sized SUV launch in 2018 across all segments from smart to large SUVs globally. “The company assumes that the proportion of electric vehicles in the total unit sales of Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 and 25 per cent,” says Folger.

The Mercedes-Benz plant at Sindelfingen in Germany will produce EVs under the new EQ brand umbrella, which was showcased at the Paris Motor Show. “EQ stands for ‘Electric Intelligence’ and is heralded by the close-to-production concept vehicle ‘Generation EQ’,” adds Folger. “The first series-produced EQ model will be launched in the SUV segment before the end of this decade.”

Mahindra Electric has close to 7,000 electric cars rolling in India. “In 2016, we launched four vehicles in different segments,” says Babu. “We recently increased the capacity of our plant at Bengaluru.”

The e2oPlus debuted as the city smart drive for the average urban population. The eVerito was positioned for the executive mobility segment. In addition, the company launched the passenger and cargo versions of the eSupro. The challenge now is to sustain numbers in a market that still has not embraced EVs thanks to inadequate charging infrastructure and lack of fiscal sops.

According to Babu, M&M intends to keep increasing the reach of e-mobility in India and worldwide. “This will include developing ground up electric vehicles and electrifying vehicles from the Mahindra stable. We are even open to working with other OEMs to supply powertrains to electrify their vehicles,” he says.

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Published on March 23, 2017
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