PUNE: Tata Motors estimates the market for electric and hybrid buses in India to reach 400-500 units in the next one year. To tap into this opportunity, which the company expects to grow in the coming years, it unveiled half-a-dozen vehicles running on alternative fuels.
The nation’s largest commercial vehicle maker expects electric and hybrid mass transportation to take off in Indian cities, in line with those like London, Beijing or Amsterdam, as they fight to control increasing air pollution. There is a clear incentive for hybrid buses (which have both an electric motor and a conventional engine) from the government, giving the technology a head start over electric vehicles, Ravindra Pisharody, executive director for commercial vehicle business, said.
“We expect in the next year, there will be orders for a minimum of 300-400 hybrid buses from various state transport undertakings.” Pisharody was speaking to ET on the sidelines of an event in Pune where the company showcased its range of alternative fuel vehicles.
On Wednesday, Tata Motors launched two electric buses — one stretching 9 metres and the other, 12 metres — under the ultra-range, and a 12-metre hybrid with the Starbus badge.
These are priced between Rs 1.6 crore and Rs 2 crore. It also showcased a 12-metre LNG bus and unveiled the country’s first fuel cell bus, along with last-mile electric vehicle solutions like the Super Ace,Magic Iris and Magic EV.
Incentives on electric buses have been given on a project basis: the buyer is refunded 75% of the capital cost for acquiring an electric bus. The industry has requested the ministry of heavy industries to extend the incentive to all orders. Union minister for heavy industries Anant Geete has shown interest towards the matter, Pisharody said.
Tata Motors has bagged an order from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to supply 25 hybrid buses, which the company will deliver in the next fiscal year. On the broader bus market, Pisharody said the segment is set to witness a compounded annual growth rate of 20-25% in the coming three years, as state transport undertakings have shown a sustained increase in order book. Tata Motors has an order backlog for 6,600 buses, or more than half the orders from state transport bodies.
“What is interesting is, the new orders are for more evolved and feature-packed solutions, like buses with automated manual transmission, fully-built buses, air-suspension, among others, clearly showing that the market has evolved,” Pisharody said.