Automakers rise to the challenge as India pushes for all vehicles to be electric by 2030

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Nna/Kyodo

Global and local automakers in India are gearing up for an anticipated shift to electric vehicles with massive investments over the next few years, as the country with the world’s fourth-largest car market aims to replace all conventional vehicles with EVs by 2030.

Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. unveiled EV models set for launch in the country at the biennial Auto Expo, being held on the outskirts of New Delhi through Wednesday, while major local manufacturers are boasting big spending on their own eco-friendly EV technology.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the country’s largest maker of passenger cars, showcased e-SURVIVOR, its EV concept model, at the auto show and said it will launch its first EV in India in 2020.

“Suzuki is setting up a lithium-ion battery plant in partnership with Toshiba Corp. and Denso Corp. in the western state of Gujarat,” said Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO of the Japanese automaker’s local unit. “We are also examining various options to support vehicle-charging infrastructure in the country.”

Hyundai Motor India Ltd., India’s second-largest maker of passenger cars, unveiled the IONIQ, its global EV model, during the event.

Its top officials told NNA that the company plans to invest over 60 billion rupees in Asia’s third-largest economy over the next few years to strengthen local operations, including new technologies.

While acknowledging the government’s vision to make India a global leader in electric vehicles by 2030, the local unit of the South Korean carmaker “is already working on its blueprint to move into (the) new automotive space of eco-friendly vehicles,” it said in a statement.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the leading utility and light commercial vehicle maker, displayed its entire range of EVs, mobility solutions and concepts — from three-wheelers to buses — at the exhibition.

The company is planning to invest 7 to 8 billion rupees over the next few years in areas such as technology, capacity building and product launches, to boost its EV business after having already invested 6 billion rupees in the environmentally friendly vehicle segment.

“Our current capacity is 200 to 300 EVs per month, which will soon go up to 600 to 700 per month, and then we expect to increase this capacity to around 5,000 per month by 2020,” said Pawan Goenka, managing director. “We are very hopeful that EV sales will pick up in the country.”

Goenka also said the company is looking to get into EV component manufacturing during the next two years.

Ashok Leyland Ltd., a major Indian commercial vehicle maker, unveiled its Circuit-S electric bus in partnership with SUN Mobility, a smart battery technology provider. Ashok is planning to invest 1 billion rupees over the next few years to further boost its EV technology.

India’s Tata Motors Ltd. displayed an extended range of six EVs, saying it is “fully committed to the government’s vision for going all electric by 2030.”

Kia Motor India, the Indian arm of South Korean Kia Motors Corp., is making a foray into the market with plans to launch its first car in 2019. The firm revealed its models, including the Soul EV, Kia’s first fully electric vehicle, and the Niro plug-in hybrid model.

Bosch Ltd., an Indian unit of Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH, is planning to offer EV component solutions to cater to future demand in India and intends to “significantly increase the extent of localization of its electrified portfolio in India,” according to a statement.

“Thanks to the government’s drive, there is growing demand for more efficient electric vehicles,” said Soumitra Bhattacharya, president of Bosch India Group.