India’s auto sector reaches crucial point amid government’s emissions goals

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India
Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

India’s automobile sector is at a crossroads.

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The country has embarked on a clean energy drive following its commitment to the Paris agreement in 2015 and has now dedicated itself to reduce its emissions by 2030.

Reduction of vehicular emissions is part of this program. So, even though the sale of automobiles in the last year or so has been dismal, hopes are pinned on a push for electric vehicles (EVs).

Some of that optimism was evident at the recent 15th edition of Auto Expo, an event that’s held every two years.

International car makers showcased their concept cars, including electric vehicles, CNG vehicles and hybrid cars at the event. Incidentally, the Indian government had rolled out the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles Scheme (FAME) in 2015, with an objective to manufacture electric vehicles in India in order to achieve sustainable development goals.

Writing in LiveMint, S.S. Kim, managing director of Hyundai Motor India Ltd, has said while the number of electric cars grew by about 300% in the last decade, the absolute number on India’s roads was only around 4,000 electric cars. That, he pointed out, was just about 0.1% of the about 3.5 million cars sold in 2019.

Clearly, India’s electric vehicles ecosystem is at a very nascent stage. Yet, there’s a great opportunity in this market for EVs.

India’s automobile sales in January 2020 across all categories was 1,739,975 units in comparison to 2,019,253 units in January 2019, according to statistics provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), as reported by India Today. Commercial vehicles sales also slipped 14.04% to 75,289 units in January 2020 from 87,591 units sold in January 2019. SIAM said sales of cars declined by 8.1% last month compared to January 2019.

Various reasons are being attributed for this continued fall, including falling growth rates and inflation.

Now, there’s an additional worry: the coronavirus outbreak in China, as much of the country’s auto parts are sourced from China.

Auto experts hope the FAME scheme will be able to fill the gap, both on the production and buyer side.

Amongst the well-known companies showing off their EVs at the Auto Expo were: Renault, with its K-ZE model that comes with its capacity to charge the battery from 30% to 80% in just 30 minutes; Indian manufacturer Mahindra’s compact electric vehicle eXUV300; and China’s Great Wall Motors’ (GWM) GWM R1. Developed on a 33 kWh battery pack, the GWM R1 offers a top speed of 100 kph. R1’s fast charger has the capability to charge up to 80% in 40 minutes; one charge allows the car go up to 350 kilometers.

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Both India and China represent huge potential where automobiles, especially EVs, are concerned.

The Indian government, as well as automotive manufacturers, are trying their best to encourage customers to make the shift by offering attractive sticker prices and other add-ons.

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