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Automakers Scramble To Get In On India’s EV Boom

India represents one of the biggest automobile markets in the world, with about 3 million petrol and diesel vehicles having been sold last fiscal year.

That pie is just too lucrative for the world to ignore.

The Players

It’s not only “regulars” such as Honda, Suzuki and Hyundai are planning launches and tie-ups for the Indian market; domestic players like Mahindra and Tata Motors are also around. With the Indian government having announced earlier that the country would move to an all-electric fleet of passenger vehicles by 2030, the timeline is more or less clear.

The unlikeliest of the pack is Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi. Indian media reports Xiaomi has “adopted an expansion roadmap revolving largely around plans to sell electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.”

While there was no immediate confirmation from the company itself, The Economic Times report pointed to a recent regulatory filing made with the Registrar of Companies that talked of Xiaomi potentially selling “all types of vehicles for transport, conveyance and other transport equipment, whether based on electricity or any other motive or mechanical power, including the components, spare parts.”

Next on this list is Swedish company Volvo. It announced plans to only sell hybrid, electric and battery-powered cars in India after 2019. Volvo is aiming to sell over 1 million electric vehicles worldwide by 2025, with India being a major target market. Related: EV Range Set To Triple With New Lithium Battery Breakthrough

According to Volvo Auto India Managing Director Charles Frump, the company plans to follow the same strategy in India as its global plan. Globally, by 2019, every new Volvo product will either be full battery electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrids.

Japanese Companies in on India

A few days ago, Japanese carmakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. signed an in-principle agreement to consider a joint structure for the introduction of electric cars in India in 2020. Last February, both companies agreed to develop environment-friendly vehicles, and mutual supply of products and components.

Under the agreement, Suzuki will manufacture electric cars for India and supply some units to Toyota with technical support from the latter, said a statement by Suzuki, the parent of India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

Mahindra Leads the Way Domestically

Mahindra Auto, the Indian leader in the electric vehicles space, has also announced plans to launch an EV version of its micro SUV KUV100 within the next 12 months. Now, it has also decided to electrify some of the models of its South Korean Arm, SsangYong Motor.

Under this, Mahindra will sell some of its locally-manufactured powertrains and EV parts to the South Korean auto firm. According to Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric Mobility, Mahindra Electric will supply some electric parts to SsangYong, and the latter will sell the cars.

Mahindra will be introducing three new offerings by 2020. These vehicles will have top speeds of 186 kph, 150 kph and 190 kph. The company was also working on lithium-ion-powered three-wheelers.

For now, Mahindra remains the only carmaker that sells electric cars in India. Related: Toyota Could Become Tesla’s Next Big Headache

Not-for-profit organization India Centre Foundation (ICF) also announced a tie-up with Japanese EV manufacturer e-Gle to launch electric vehicles across passenger, public passenger and larger mobility segments in India. Through the alliance, ICF will gain access to e-Gle’s in-wheel motor-based EV technology.

Earlier this week, the first batch of Tata Motors’ Tigor EV was rolled out. Tigor is a compact sedan. The car, however, is not for sale to the general public, yet. The batch that rolled out of the company was against the government’s order of electric vehicles for Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, a firm under the Ministry of Power.

Even with all these announcements, some auto experts have expressed doubts whether the 2030 deadline of having only electric vehicles on India’s roads will be met because of several hurdles (including statutory ones).

By AG Metal Miner

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