Foreign automakers dominate Indian auto show with EVs

Foreign automakers are taking center stage at India’s Auto Expo, the world’s fourth-largest auto market, as they vie for some of the early transition to electric vehicles.

The show, which kicked off Wednesday, is back after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic and sees China’s SAIC Motor and BYD unveil EVs for the domestic market, while Hyundai’s local subsidiary unveils the Ioniq 5. It will hold the launch of the electric SUV in India.

In contrast, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra didn’t even attend the event.

The high profile of foreign automakers at India’s biggest auto show highlights the country’s slow assimilation of electric vehicles.

Most local manufacturers are reluctant to switch to EVs due to high initial costs, while the lack of public charging points deters buyers. Instead, more affordable scooters and tricycles, which are also widely used in delivery vehicles, are leading the drive towards electrification.

Maruti Suzuki India, India’s largest automaker, does not have an electric model in its lineup. RC Bhargava said that vehicles powered by hybrid technology, natural gas and biofuels will be powered by electricity from dirty coal in vehicles.

Long known for its big muscle cars, Mahindra only offers one EV, an e-Verito sedan with a range of just 181 km (112 miles). This is despite Mahindra gaining a first-mover advantage after acquiring his Indian EV startup, Reva Electric Car, in 2010.

Mahindra plans to electrify 30% of its SUV lineup by 2027, with the XUV400 electric SUV going on sale by the end of next month.

As such, Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, is a major local player in EVs, offering just three models: Nexon EV, Tigor EV and Tiago EV.

Yet India has historically proven to be a barren hunting ground for other global automakers lured by its potential scale.

Ford has announced that it will close plants in the South Asian country in 2021 at a cost of about $2 billion. Previous management has withdrawn from the market he counts as one of his three largest companies in the company.

In 2020, Toyota put the brakes on expansion due to high tariffs, and Harley-Davidson and General Motors also pulled out of the country.

Electric car pioneer Tesla has also shied away from the Indian market, with CEO Elon Musk losing a battle to lower import tariffs before even considering setting up a local manufacturing plant. There is

Rahul Mishra, a partner at management consulting firm Kearny, said it could be a little different given that Chinese companies have a mature supply ecosystem that allows them to source parts at low unit prices.

However, Indian consumers need to be convinced that the quality and performance of their vehicles are on par with international standards.

On the other hand, established Korean and European brands with full-fledged electric vehicle portfolios have cost structures built for international markets and designed for price-competitive markets like India. Is not …

Their challenge, Mishra said, is to produce cars locally, albeit in small quantities, and get tax incentives in favor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s make in India.

More than 100 exhibitors and more than 40 automakers are expected to participate in the auto show, which runs until January 18 in Greater Noida, a suburb of Delhi, according to local media.

Another hurdle slowing India’s transition to EVs is its reliance on China for components, especially batteries. This means that local automakers are not fully in control of the quality of their parts, raising concerns about the safety of electric vehicles in India’s hot climate and pothole-filled roads.

“Despite the demand, automakers do not have access to the supply chain and battery technology to mass-produce electric vehicles,” Mishra said.

“To scale to meet demand, we need to overcome these barriers,” he said, adding that automakers also need to invest in sales networks and after-sales.

Bain & Company partner Mihir Sampat says local manufacturers need to do a better job of demonstrating how electric vehicles can be used and explaining their value proposition to customers. .

Automakers could build better communication elements into sales channels or set up experience centers to alleviate consumer concerns about safety and range, he said.

Mahindra executive director Rajesh Jejurikar expects India to see greater adoption of EVs within five years as customers have more choice.

Rising gas prices will also encourage drivers to switch to EVs, he said in an email.

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