Over the last few months, India’s automobile sector has started to accelerate its shift towards cleaner and more efficient fuel technology. Two of the market’s top passenger vehicle (PV) makers — Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) and Tata Motors — have already announced their plans to curtail the production of diesel-powered vehicles from next year, while many other players are gearing up to meet the upcoming implementation of BS-VI emission norms and upping their alternate fuel game.
According to experts, the fuel option which is likely to benefit from a departure of diesel engines in the near future is the much cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG), with studies claiming that it will power 30-50 per cent of four wheelers within the next 10 years.
Besides CNG, hybrid electric technology and fully electric vehicles (EV) are also gaining traction in the country. Many automakers are now coming up with hybrid options for their new vehicles, with the latest being the British carmaker MG Motor, whose first car in India — the Hector — will come with a 48-volt mild-hybrid architecture. It also claims that this will enable its SUV to give best-in-class fuel efficiency in the segment and reduce emissions by up to 12 per cent.
On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki, which at present offers Ertiga, sedan Ciaz and Baleno with mild hybrid systems, is gearing up to launch a mild hybrid version of the S-Cross. The carmaker’s managing director Kenichi Ayukawa recently said that the government should encourage hybrid vehicles to boost localisation of EV components.
“Our cars are almost completely localised; the residual imports are mostly electrical parts and so further localisation of electric car and electric components is very important… If we encourage hybrid vehicles then the volume of these core components goes up and we will be able to achieve much higher depth of localisation,” he said. Ayukawa’s comment refers to the localisation clause in the Faster Adoption of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which makes it mandatory for automakers to have 50 per cent localisation to avail benefits.
On the EV front, a number of carmakers are readying themselves to launch lithium battery-powered vehicles, and by the end of next year almost every carmaker is likely to have offered EV options to consumers so inclined. On the infrastructure side too, a number of players are engaging in setting up charging stations.
For instance, Japanese electric major Panasonic which recently launched its EV charging service- Nymbus has set a target of catering to a million EVs in the next five years. Fleet operators such as Ola have already announced initiatives to operate one million electric vehicles in the country by 2021.