Bigger is better in India's nascent electric car market

In India, where an increasing number of consumers aspire to own bigger cars to cope with the country’s notoriously potholed roads and bad traffic, automakers are betting on low-cost battery-powered SUVs to capture the budding electric vehicle market.

By: Bloomberg
| Updated on: 24 Jan 2023, 09:59 AM
Follow us on:
Follow us on:
Kia EV9 electric SUV concept is expected to enter production in 2025
Kia EV9 electric SUV concept is expected to enter production in 2025
Kia EV9 electric SUV concept is expected to enter production in 2025
Kia EV9 electric SUV concept is expected to enter production in 2025

At the nation’s major auto show in New Delhi earlier this month, there was a new breed of EVs taking center stage, with predominately foreign companies looking to muscle in on the nascent electric scene. In a marked shift in rhetoric, local auto bosses were also excitedly talking up the sector’s prospects.

Homegrown manufacturers Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. are now jostling with Chinese giants BYD Co. and SAIC Motor Corp. and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. Even India’s biggest automaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which had previously largely pooh-poohed EVs, showeda compact electric SUV it says will hit the market in 2025.

Similar Cars

Find more Cars
Hyundai Kona Electric (HT Auto photo)
cc | Electric | Automatic
₹23.79 - 23.98 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price
Add to compare
Check latest offers
Mg 4 Ev (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
| Electric | Automatic
₹30 - 32 Lakhs* *Expected Price
View Details
Mg Air Ev (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
| Electric | Automatic
₹10 - 15 Lakhs* *Expected Price
View Details
Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Ev (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
 
Prices are currently unavailable
View Details
Tata Punch Ev (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
| Electric | Automatic
₹12 - 14 Lakhs* *Expected Price
View Details
Citroen C3 Ev (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
| Electric | Automatic
₹9 - 13 Lakhs* *Expected Price
View Details

Demand for smaller SUVs has been surging in India. They’re suited for the country’s driving conditions, which can vary vastly from smooth multi-lane freeways to rutted streets crowded with rickshaws, dogs and cows. They also offer aspirational buyers an important, yet affordable, status symbol, perching drivers above the masses. And while larger electric SUVs tend to be inefficient (and expensive) because they require bigger and costlier battery packs, their compact equivalents are built on small-car platforms, making them more cost effective.

File photo used for representational purpose only
File photo used for representational purpose only (MINT_PRINT)
File photo used for representational purpose only
File photo used for representational purpose only (MINT_PRINT)

"The conundrum for electric vehicles is lighter is better, but customers want SUVs," says Andy Palmer, the former CEO of Aston Martin who also helped spearhead Nissan Motor Co.’s creation of the Leaf, one of the first mass market EVs. “Using a small-car platform to build an electric SUV meets the sweet spot for both manufacturers and consumers," he said, citing the example of Volkswagen AG using the ID.3 hatchback platform to also build the ID.4 SUV.

After lackluster sales of a battery-powered sedan called the Tigor EV, Tata Motors in 2020 introduced an electric version of the Nexon compact SUV. Priced at 1.4 million rupees ($17,300) and with a range of around 300 kilometers (186 miles), the Nexon quickly became India’s best-selling electric model.

Still, public adoption of anything electric in India when it comes to passenger transport has been slow. Most local manufacturers have been reluctant to switch to electric cars because of their high upfront production costs, while a lack of public charging points has deterred buyers. Just 1.2% of passenger vehicles sold in the six months through September were electric, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Even EV market leader Tata Motors, whose electric sales in the quarter through December were up almost 120% from a year earlier, only sold 12,596 units.

But India, which may have already surpassed China as the world’s most-populous nation, is also a market carmakers can’t afford to ignore. At the same time, some foreign players are rethinking their strategies around China, the world’s other massive car market. Stellantis NV, for example, has shuttered its only Jeep factory in China due to interference from local politicians while Volkswagen and General Motors Co. are struggling to preserve their positions as local Chinese manufacturersgive them a run for their money.

India not only offers cheap labor but also a talent pool of largely English-speaking workers.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country, home to the world’s fourth-largest car market, will reduce emissions to net zero by 2070, and curbing transport pollution is key to meeting that goal.

China’s SAIC, which owns the British marque MG, started selling SUVs in India in 2019 after taking over GM’s plant in the western state of Gujarat. SAIC plans to launch three EVs in India by the end of 2024 and expects as much as 30% of local India sales to eventually come from the segment. BYD, backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway,has meanwhile outlined a bold plan to capture 40% of India’s EV market by 2030.Stellantis brand Citroen on Monday started taking bookings foritseC3 electric compact SUV in India.

“The EV transition in India is coming through very strong and very fast, much faster than what people are expecting," Tata’s Chief Financial Officer PB Balaji said at the auto show. “We see this morphing into an EV-led industry pretty soon."

First Published Date: 24 Jan 2023, 09:50 AM IST
Recommended for you
View all
NEXT ARTICLE BEGINS
Shopping Bag Shop Now
55% OFF
SOFTSPUN Microfiber Cloth - 4 pcs - 40x40 cms - 340 GSM Grey- Thick Lint & Streak-Free Multipurpose Cloths - Automotive Microfibre Towels for Car Bike Cleaning Polishing Washing & Detailing
Rs. 269 Rs. 604
73% OFF
pTron Bullet Pro 36W PD Quick Charger, 3 Port Fast Car Charger Adapter - Compatible with All Smartphones & Tablets (Black)
Rs. 349 Rs. 1,299
20% OFF
Involve Your Senses One Musk Organic Car Perfume Bar, Involve Your Senses Strong Fiber Air Freshener to Freshen'up Your Car - IONE01-40 g Car Accessories interior car perfumes and fresheners
Rs. 319 Rs. 399
65% OFF
ELV Car Mount Adjustable Car Phone Holder Universal Long Arm, Windshield for Smartphones - Black
Rs. 348 Rs. 999
13% OFF
Jopasu Car Duster
Rs. 755 Rs. 869
9% OFF
ShineXPro Microfiber Car Cleaning Cloth - OG Soft 500 GSM Extra Large (35x75 CM) Microfiber Cloth for Car and Bike - Suede Edging for Scratchless Drying and Detailing (Pack of 2)
Rs. 499 Rs. 549
68% OFF
ORJILO Super Soft Microfiber Car Duster Exterior with Extendable Handle, Car Brush Duster for Car Cleaning Dusting - Grey
Rs. 319 Rs. 999
13% OFF
Pidilite WD-40, Multipurpose Car care Spray, 420ml Rust Remover, Lubricant, Stain Remover, Powerful Chimney Cleaner, Degreaser, and Bike Chain Cleaner & Chain Lube (341g)
Rs. 325 Rs. 375
65% OFF
Portronics AUTO 12 in-Car Bluetooth Receiver for Handsfree Calling, Music System, Supports All Smartphones (Black)
Rs. 525 Rs. 1,499
61% OFF
HSR Car Accessories in 10PCS/1Set Car Wiper Detergent Effervescent Tablets Washer Auto Windshield Cleaner Glass Wash Cleaning Tablets
Rs. 197 Rs. 499

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers on

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city
Choose city
By clicking "View Offers" you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy

Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city