Even as Delhi reeled under a cold wave, there was plenty of heat and action at the country’s largest automotive show – Auto Expo 2023 which was returning after a hiatus. Electric vehicles (EVs) were, understandably, front and center with all the big automotive majors looking to showcase their latest models and concepts.
India’s largest auto manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, was on overdrive. It showcased its first electric, mid-size SUV concept – the eVX – based on the company’s new, dedicated EV platform. The SUV comes with a range of 550 km and a 60kWh battery with a likely 2025 production date. The company’s five door SUV Jimny, due to be available by end Q1, is taking Mahindra’s popular ‘Thar’ head on, while its other SUV offering, the compact crossover Fronx, won plaudits for its multiple powertrain options, sleek design, and safety features.
All eyes were on Hyundai’s popular EV offering Ioniq 5 with a range of more than 600 km and the Ioniq 6 with a range of 500 km on a single charge.
MG Motors released a flood of new models, beginning with spruced up versions (think Level 2 ADAS and connectivity features, sleeker interiors/exteriors, and a generous 14inch touchscreen) of its Hector and Hector Plus SUVs. In addition, it showcased an Electric Estate (the MG 5), plug-in hybrid sporty sedan (the eMG6), all-electric hatchback (the MG4), all-electric SUV (the Marvel R), plug-in hybrid SUV (eHS and Roewe eRX5), and all-electric, full-size MPV (the Mifa 9). MG Motors India also unveiled its production-ready, hydrogen fuel cell MPV – the EUNIQ 7.
Chinese automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams), which overtook Tesla as the world’s top EV seller in July 2022, declared its aggressive intent. It announced its plans to capture 40% of India’s booming EV market by 2030. BYD’s Atto 3 SUV and e6 MPV besides, its hotly awaited Seal electric sedan was showcased at Auto Expo. It is likely to launch by Q4, 2023 and promises a 700 km range on a single charge.
In addition to its marquee Land Cruiser LC 300 SUV, Japanese automaker Toyota also unveiled its battery electric SUV – the bZ4X. Luxury car maker Lexus spotlighted its hybrid RX SUV and its LM 300 h. It also displayed two electric concepts – the LF-30 and LF-Z.
Leading Indian car manufacturer Tata Motors had an array of offerings: from the all-wheel drive configuration and dual electric motor EV concept version of the Tata Harrier which has a 2024 launch date and the Sierra EV concept with a 2025 release date. Also on display were a premium hatchback, the Altroz Racer, and a concept ICE SUV coupe, the Curvv. A five-seater, concept electric SUV, Avinya, built on the company’s third-generation EV architecture, was also in the spotlight.
Kia’s all-electric concept SUV – the EV9 – based on the company’s new E-GMP platform caught the eye along with the KA 4 (the fourth generation Carnival) with its new ADAS tech and infotainment screens.
Green powertrains, in the form of fuel cell and hydrogen-based alternatives, were also front and center in the commercial vehicles arena. There was also lots of action in the electric two- and three-wheeler space. Standouts in the electric two-wheeler segment included the new, high-speed electric scooter offering – MIHOS – from WardWizard, manufacturer of the Joy e-bike; Motovolt’s URBN, the country’s first domestically developed smart, multi-purpose e-scooter; Liger X and Liger X Plus, the world’s first self-balancing e-scooters from Liger Mobility, Tork Motors’ new electric motorcycle, the Kratos X; and, Corrit Electric’s B2B focused delivery electric bike, ‘Transit’. Meanwhile, MTA EV’s Shera R8 cargo vehicle and Shera Comfy commercial passenger vehicle lit up the electric three-wheeler space.
The buzz at Auto Expo 2023 was all about vehicle electrification, mirroring worldwide trends. According to quotes attributed to the Heavy Industries Minister, “India will have 70,000 electric buses, 55,000 electric four-wheelers, 40,000 electric three-wheelers and over one million electric two-wheelers on the roads by next year.” The Indian government has demonstrated serious commitment to transitioning to a sustainable, e-mobility industry through several policies and incentives such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid) and Electric/Hybrid Vehicles (FAME II) scheme, the Production Linked Incentive for Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Storage (PLI-ACC Scheme), the proposed battery swapping policy, and scrappage policy. The government has also set ambitious targets for the automotive industry: 30% EV penetration in passenger car segment, 70% in the commercial vehicle segment, and 80% in the two-and three-wheeler segment by 2030.
In their bid to meet these targets and transition their portfolios, we are likely to see an increasing number of electric offerings, much like what Auto Expo showcased.