M&M, Tata, Maruti come together on the hybrid-electric platform

Amidst uncertainty around diesel engines because of rising pollution in the cities, the big three automobile companies in India, including Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki, have come together to develop electric and hybrid vehicles.

The three are working on developing components and systems to ensure common standards for them and to drive down costs of developing components and systems for them, Mahindra Reva chief executive Arvind Mathew told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Monday.

While the three are already experimenting with hybrid and electric alternatives, standardisation of components and systems is one way to eventually lower cost of ownership of the vehicles.

In September, car market leader Maruti Suzuki launched a mild hybrid version of its Ciaz model, with a 1.3-litre diesel engine. The combination of electric-diesel power plants helps the sedan deliver a company-claimed 28.09 km per litre.

Sports utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra has effectively used micro-hybrid technology in its Bolero and Scorpio cars to improve fuel efficiency by five-eight per cent.

Tata Motors has gone for hybrid, electric cars and has been experimenting with electric vehicles for some years.

The three companies have come together to make use of the central government's scheme for 'Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles' (FAME), which envisages Rs795 crore in incentives for two years as part of the first phase of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.

The scheme, announced in April this year, offers cash incentives for those who want to buy hybrid and electric vehicles. 

The ministry of heavy industries estimates the total outlay for the entire scheme to be around Rs14,000 crore.

The scheme offers incentives for the customer buying any form of hybrid or electric vehicle incentive in terms of lower cost, while the manufacturer can claim the incentive from the government.

For electric cars, the incentives range between Rs13,000 and Rs1.38 lakh, while for light commercial vehicles, it ranges between Rs17,000 and Rs1.87 lakh.

Mahindra will be launching the electric versions of Verito sedan as well as mini-truck Maxximo in a couple of months, Mathew said, adding that the company is in talks with cab aggregators like Ola and other operators to include these electric cars as part of their fleet.

The price of electric Verito sedan is expected to be much higher than Reva's e2o, which costs around Rs6.5 lakh. Reva has sold about 5,500 units since its launch in 2004. Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a major stake in Reva Electric Car Company in 2010.

Though the initial purchase price is higher, mild hybrids are more cost-efficient and deliver superior mileage without compromising on power and performance.