Electric vehicles to take centre stage at Auto Expo 2018

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New Delhi: At first, the Delhi Auto Expo used to be all about small, affordable cars targeted at first-time buyers. Then, as customer preferences changed, India’s only automobile show started featuring big, bulky sports utility vehicles (SUVs) aimed at an upwardly mobile, aspirational class.

The trend is set to change again. The 2018 Auto Expo next month will see a marked shift towards electric cars and vehicles that run on other eco-friendly technologies.

“The show will be beyond just electric vehicles (EVs). Expect a host of new and futuristic technologies on the showcase,” said Vishnu Mathur, director general of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the industry lobby group that organizes the show.

Automakers are shifting their medium- and long-term focus away from diesel and petrol engines as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government pushes for an all-electric fleet of vehicles on the country’s roads by 2030, seeking to cut carbon emissions and curb oil imports.

At the 2018 Auto Expo, which will run from 9-14 February, India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will showcase its first ever EV concept known as #Concept E-Survivor, which is expected to be introduced in the Indian market in 2020. The car is being developed by Suzuki Motor Corp., Maruti’s parent, in collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automobile maker.

Maruti will also exhibit a new hybrid vehicle which has been under development. It is known as the next-gen HEV.

“This change has happened since the technology in the automobile sector is moving towards electric vehicles. Now, the pace at which it will move nobody knows and the government has made clear its willingness to shift towards electric vehicles. With this kind of a show, it is certain that carmakers are ready to embrace EV technology,” R.C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki, explained.

Renault India Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of French automaker Renault SA, will showcase one pure electric car which is expected to be launched in India by 2022, according to its mid-term plan (2017-2022). The company will also display hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars.

“Being a global leader in electric vehicles, Renault will showcase its prowess from its global portfolio. Also on display would be the existing range of Renault India product portfolio with innovative themes,” the company said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd will showcase electric cars that it sells globally under the Ioniq brand. New entrant Kia Motors Corp. is expected to display its entire range of hybrid and electric vehicles. Tata Motors Ltd will put on display as many as six electric vehicles, most of which are expected to be electric versions of its current line-up.

At the Auto Expo, the emphasis will be on sustainable mobility, going beyond electric vehicles, said Avik Chattopadhyay, founder of Expereal, a branding strategy firm.

“Japan emphasizes plug-in hybrid vehicles while European countries are promoting hydrogen or fuel cell-run vehicles apart from electric ones. China, on the other hand, has taken the lead in terms of battery-run electric vehicles. India has to decide which way to move. The auto industry is ready to embrace the disruption and move towards zero-emission vehicles,” said Chattopadhyay.livemint