South Korean auto major Hyundai on Tuesday launched its full-electric SUV Kona in India priced at Rs 25.3 lakh, and sought government support for electric vehicles (EVs) for personal usage, not just for fleets.
The company, which is present in the country through its wholly-owned subsidiary Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), is also planning to develop a mass market EV for India to add to its newly launched full-electric SUV Kona.
"We have seen some positive development in the form of tax incentives on purchase of EVs as provided in the Budget, but we think more can be done by the government to accelerate adoption of EVs in India," HMIL MD and CEO S S Kim told PTI in an interview.
He said currently EVs are extremely expensive which require economies of scale to make them affordable for mass adoption.
Referring to the FAME II scheme, which provides incentives to four-wheeler EVs only for fleets and public transportation, Kim said, "Our desire is that such incentives should also be extended to personal usage too for the market to develop."
Commenting on the Kona EV, he said, "This will be the game changer in the Indian EV market. We are addressing range anxiety which is one of the biggest issues that consumers have in mind when buying an EV."
The company claims that the Kona EV delivers a range of 452 km in one single charge under standard testing conditions.
"As we embark on the journey of India's future mobility, the launch of country's first fully-electric SUV Kona will be a revolutionary and a definitive forward move to change the perspective towards electric cars altogether," Kim said.
Globally, the Korean firm aims to have 44 environment-friendly models in its lineup, including 23 full-electric models, by 2025, he added.
The model comes with different driving modes, infotainment features, 136 PS of power with an ability to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in just 9.7 seconds.
The vehicle could be charged fully in around 6 hours. The SUV also come with other features like six airbags, anti-lock braking systems with electronic brake-force distribution, tyre pressure monitoring system and rear camera with guidelines.
Kim said compared to what is available in India, the Kona EV will be a big differentiator and will help Hyundai in adopting a top-down approach as far as EVs are concerned in India.
"Currently, our research and development teams in Korea and Hyderabad are working together, doing customer clinics, in order to develop a mass market EV for the Indian market. It can take two to three years to hit the market," he added.
While the body share of the future EV will depend on the outcome of the ongoing customer research and market trend, he said on of the important criteria is the range and affordability.
Hyundai is looking at a minimum of range of 200 km on a single charge, he said adding that the company will go for localisation of components, including the battery packs when it is eventually launched in India.
The Kona EV will be assembled at HMIL's Chennai plant with most of the major components imported.
There are only a few parts of Kona EV that are from local supplier, and the company is looking to expand its supplier base for its future EVs, he said.
The Kona EV will be launched only in 11 cities across India, considering charging constraints and demand expectations in mind, HMIL said.
The company will provide home charging kit with the vehicle, while it is also setting up charging stations through 15 dealerships in these cities at showrooms as well as service centres.
Kim said HMIL is also tying up with Indian Oil to set up charging stations at the latter's fuel filling stations in four cities, including Delhi-NCR.
He said from a profitability point of view the Kona EV does not have much to talk about in India, but launching the vehicle was aimed at taking the lead towards cleaner mobility and demonstrate Hyundai's technology.
Hyundai is open to partnerships, and even form joint ventures for its electric mobility drive, specially to secure local supplies of key components like the battery and motors, he added.
"Unless we localise supplies of components like the battery, we cannot bring the cost of EVs down," he said.
When asked if the mass market EV from Hyundai will be available for fleets, specially Ola where Hyundai has invested, Kim said the vehicle will address both segments of fleets and personal usage, but will be distinct for each of the segments.