EVs, hybrids to be the buzz at this year's Indian auto expo

Electric and hybrid vehicles will be the buzz at this year's Indian auto expo, with companies including Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors, Toyota, Hyundai, BMW and Mercedes Benz lining up concepts and launches as the country gears towards eco-friendly vehicles.

Nearly 50 electric and hybrid vehicles will be unveiled at Auto Expo 2018 that starts in Greater Noida this week, in what will be an affirmation of automakers' commitment to India's ambitious goal on electric mobility.

Most of these vehicles will be working models that are two or three years away from making their way on to the road, unlike in other auto shows where electric vehicles are seen largely in concept forms. These products will also be relevant to India, with a majority of them positioned in the affordable segment, previews suggest.

Many countries have fixed targets for completely doing away with vehicles running on fossil fuel. 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. China plans to cap its automobile carbon emissions by 2030.

India had last year announced a plan – seen as impractical by most observers – to have only electric cars on its roads by 2030. Though the government subsequently denied this target in parliament, it is still widely touted.

The Auto Expo, to be held at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, will be open for public from 9-14 February.

The country's largest automaker Maruti Suzuki, which had earlier announced its plans to launch an electric vehicle in India in 2020, will showcase a concept electric compact SUV, e-Survivor. The concept vehicle symbolises Maruti Suzuki's commitment to helping develop the entire life-cycle of EVs in India, including local manufacturing of components, charging infrastructure and recycling of batteries, the company said.

It will also showcase a working model of next-generation hybrid technology that promises to bring down emissions, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and accelerate electrification of power trains in India. The company will also launch the new third-generation Swift.

Electric mobility specialists like Sweden's Uniti and two-wheeler makers such as Honda Motorcycle & Scooter will also bring their products to the exposition.

Besides, Tata Motors has announced it will showcase about six electric vehicles in personal and mass mobility segments. It will present 26 smart mobility solutions across its platform.

The firm had earlier bagged an order from state-owned Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to supply 350 electric cars. It has rolled out the first batch of electric version of its compact sedan Tigor from its Sanand plant in Gujarat to be supplied to EESL.

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), which has also bagged orders for EVs from EESL, will showcase six new electric vehicles, including two futuristic concepts - a global aspirational SUV and a Stinger concept of one of the company's popular SUVs. The company will highlight the future of mobility based on three pillars - clean, connected and convenient.

Currently, M&M is the only carmaker to have commercially launched EVs in India - the e2o hatchback and the eVerito sedan.

Pawan Goenka, managing director, M&M, said, "All fuels that meet the clean environment norms and help in reducing the dependence on oil import should be encouraged. Out of the hybrid and electric vehicles, the later is much ahead and now it is for the government to decide whether it wants to back both the technologies of mobility or stick to just one."

Japanese auto major Toyota has also announced plans for co-operation with Suzuki Motor Corporation to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in India by 2020.

Japan-based firm e-Gle also plans to tie up with Indian firms to commercialise the prototype of its electric car, which is estimated to cost $20,000-30,000 depending upon the specifications, DNA Money had earlier reported.

Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) has said it will unveil Ioniq EV in the upcoming Auto Expo. Hero Electric, the country's largest electric two-wheeler manufacturer, unveiled three of its global products in India. The company plans to launch these products throughout 2018, in a phased manner.

Similarly, two-wheeler maker Honda Motorcycle & Scooter (HMSI) plans to launch 11 new models, including a concept scooter from its electric mobility platform. The company's latest electric vehicle concept - the PCX Electric -- which made its global debut at the Tokyo Motor Show 2017, will also be showcased at the Auto Expo.

Three-wheeler brand, Lohia Auto will launch a number of e-vehicles at Auto Expo 2018. Among the new products to be launched by Lohia Auto includes battery operated auto designed and developed by Lohia R&D team to provide an eco-friendly commuting solution to rural and urban India, according to a company statement.

However, there were reports of vehicle manufacturers staying away or pulling off from the event due to the high cost associated with the participation and perceived returns.

It is estimated that it costs anywhere between Rs10-40 crore for the companies to participate, depending upon various factors publicity, stage set up, endorsement, lighting, space rent, etc.

Industry lobby body Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures has said that they have 48 members in their group, of which only about 50 per cent have been participating during the event that happens once every two years.