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Electric Vehicles This Week: Xiaomi Eyes Entry In Indian Electric Vehicle Market; Volvo To Only Sell EVs By 2019

Electric Vehicles This Week: Xiaomi Eyes Entry In Indian Electric Vehicle Market; Volvo To Only Sell EVs By 2019

Important Developments From The World Of Electric Vehicles [7-13 December]

This past week marked a major win for the global electric vehicles market. PepsiCo, a brand normally associated with beverages and snacks, recently became an exemplary champion of the EV cause, when it made the biggest public pre-order of Tesla Semis till date.

Given that heavy-duty vehicles involved in freight transportation currently contribute over 40% of exhaust emissions, PepsiCo’s decision to procure 100 electrically-powered big rigs represents a major positive step towards mass adoption of electric vehicles and other cleaner alternatives to environmentally-damaging petrol and diesel vehicles.

Coming to some of the developments that took place over the last seven days, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is preparing to enter the Indian EV market, as per a recent regulatory filing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). India Centre Foundation has partnered with Japanese EV maker e-Gle to launch electric vehicles in India.

The country’s sole EV manufacturer Mahindra has announced plans to electrify some models of its South Korean arm, SsangYong Motor.

On the international front, state-owned Chinese automobile company BAIC Group has said that it will not be selling conventional cars by 2025. Along the same lines, Swedish carmaker Volvo is gearing up to only sell hybrid and electric cars by 2019.

Given that so much has been happening in the country’s electric vehicle sector, we bring to you the fourth edition of the weekly EV roundups.

Let’s take a look at the recent developments from the world of electric vehicles:

Volvo To Only Sell Hybrid And Electric Cars In India After 2019

Swedish automobile manufacturing giant Volvo has announced plans to only sell hybrid, electric and battery-powered cars in India after 2019. The move is in line with the company’s vision to transition to cleaner alternatives to petrol and diesel-based vehicles globally.

As per reports, Volvo is aiming to sell over 1 Mn electric vehicles worldwide by 2025, with India being a major target market. Elaborating further, Volvo Auto India MD Charles Frump said recently, “We must follow the same strategy in India and if we would want to be the leaders here when it comes to electrification, then we have to be the first in line. Globally, by 2019, every new product will either be full battery electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrids and we are certainly going to do the same in India.”

“This was a part of the global strategy. We were the first mass automotive company to say that post 2019, it will be all-electric vehicles. That is ahead of the pack and that promise goes for India as well. The advantage we have is that the entire product range at present can be converted to electrified cars which means, the volumes of electrified luxury cars will be heavily skewed towards Volvo,” Frump added.

Is Xiaomi Gearing Up To Sell Electric Vehicles In India?

Joining the group of companies that are working to enhance the availability of electric vehicles in India is an unlikely name, Xiaomi. Famous for its smartphones and other gadgets, this Chinese company has adopted an expansion roadmap revolving largely around plans to sell electric vehicles in the country.

As per a recent regulatory filing made with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Xiaomi is looking to potentially sell “all types of vehicles for transport, conveyance and other transport equipment, whether based on electricity or any other motive or mechanical power, including the components, spare parts.”

Declining to shed light on the reasons behind the company’s sudden interest in electric vehicles, a spokesperson for Xiaomi said, “We have expressed our interest to bring several of our non-smartphone products to India multiple times, but only after ensuring that we have picked the right product and customised it to India’s needs.”

ICF Partners With e-Gle To Launch EVs In The Country

Not-for-profit organisation, India Centre Foundation (ICF) has announced a partnership with Japanese EV manufacturer e-Gle to launch electric vehicles across passenger, public passenger and larger mobility segments in India. Through the alliance, ICF will gain access to e-Gle’s in-wheel motor-based EV technology.

Commenting on the newly-forged collaboration, e-Gle President and CEO Hiroshi Shimuzu said, “We are delighted to be a part of the National Electric Vehicle Initiative (NEVI). We believe that India’s mobility transformation presents an enormous economic opportunity, innovative business models and supportive policy frameworks that can help make India a global hub for manufacturing electric vehicles and their components.”

NEVI, for the uninitiated, is an initiative aimed at faster adoption of electric vehicles in India. The initiative is being discussed at the ongoing Global Partnership Summit (GPS) 2017 in Delhi.

Govt. Nod Mandatory Before OEMs Can Supply Electric Buses Under FAME

The Indian government has ordered original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to seek the approval of the Department of Heavy Industry prior to availing incentives for supplying electric buses under the FAME India scheme. Aimed at promoting the use of EVs in multimodal public transport to help lower pollution levels in urban areas, the scheme offers incentives of up to $451 (INR 29,000) one electric bikes and $2,146 (INR 1.38 Lakh) on cars to suppliers.

The decision to make government nod mandatory, as per sources, is geared towards facilitating the smooth rollout and management of incentives availed under the FAME India scheme.

An official from the department said, “All proposals for supplying electric buses by OEMs registered under FAME India Scheme shall be first brought to the notice of the Department of Heavy Industry in writing. Once a go-ahead is given by DHI, the OEMs will become eligible for FAME incentives. OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are, therefore, requested to follow the above instructions and await the directions from DHI before accepting any order where it is proposed to avail benefits for fully electric buses under the FAME India scheme.”

Mahindra To Electrify Some Models Of Its South Korean Arm SsangYong Motor

At a time when a number of domestic and global automotive players like Honda, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Suzuki, BMW and Volkswagen are gearing up to grab a piece of India’s electric vehicles market pie, the country’s sole EV maker Mahindra has set its eyes to electrify some of the models of its South Korean Arm, SsangYong Motor.

As part of the initiative, Mahindra will be selling sell some of its locally-manufacturer powertrains and EV parts to the South Korean auto firm.

Commenting on the development, Mahindra Electric Mobility CEO Mahesh Babu said, “Mahindra Electric is working with SsangYong to electrify some of their products. We will play a similar role for SsangYong. We will supply some electric parts to them and also to Mahindra and they will sell the cars.”

Over two weeks after it was reported that Mahindra was planning to launch EV version of its micro SUV KUV100 within the next 12 months, the company has announced its intentions to introduce three new offerings in the space by 2020.

As stated by Mahesh, the three high-performing electric cars will have top speeds of 186 kmph, 150 kmph and 190 kmph, with their range being 350 km, 250 km and 300 km respectively. The company is also working on lithium-ion-powered three-wheelers.

State-owned Chinese Automotive Giant To Stop Selling Petrol Vehicles By 2025

As yet another evidence to the burgeoning global electric vehicle movement, Beijing Automotive Group Co (BAIC) has announced that it would be putting an end to conventional car sales in Beijing by 2020 and the rest of the country by 2025. The state-owned company is currently one of the largest automakers in China.

As stated by Chairman Xu Heyi, the move only applies to vehicles manufactured by the company itself. All cars produced in partnership with Hyundai and Germany-headquartered Daimler will remain unaffected.

The decision comes at a time when the Chinese government is mulling instating a ban on the production and sale of fossil fuel-powered cars. Other companies that have taken similar actions include France and Britain, both of which have pledged to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

PepsiCo Makes Largest Pre-order Of Tesla Semis Till Date

New York-headquartered food, snack and beverage company PepsiCo has made headlines for reserving 100 Tesla Semis, which are heavy-duty all-electric trucks. The order, which is being touted as the largest ever made, is in line with PepsiCo’s aim to reduce fuel costs and fleet emissions by adopting cleaner alternatives.

As per reports, the electrically-powered big rigs procured by PepsiCo will be employed for transporting beverages and snack foods to and from the company’s manufacturing and distribution facilities. These trucks will also be used to handle direct shipments to retailers within an 800-km range. Currently, PepsiCo has a fleet of 10,000 semi-trailer trucks in the US.

By procuring the Tesla Semis, the company is looking to lower greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain by 20% by 2030, stated Mike O’Connell, Senior Director Supply Chain at PepsiCo. Other companies that have also ordered Tesla Semis in the last couple of months are Walmart, fleet operator J.B. Hunt Transport Services and Texas-headquartered foodservice distribution company Sysco Corp.

Prices Of Electric Vehicle Batteries To Level Off By 2020: Hyundai

South Korea-headquartered carmaker Hyundai Motor Company believes that prices of electric vehicle batteries will stabilise within the next three years. The industry, which has witnessed years of declining due to an inadequate supply of key resources like nickel, cobalt and lithium, will likely get a major boost in the coming years, thanks to increasing demand for electric vehicles.

Lee Ki-sang, Senior Vice President of Hyundai’s Eco Technology Center, recently said, “Not a single ingredient is going in a positive direction in terms of pricing. So far battery prices have been declining at a rapid pace, but the pace will moderate significantly or maintain the status quo by 2020.”

The company is currently focussed on bolstering its battery supply chain to make the production of electric vehicles faster and more efficient. Currently, batteries are one of the most expensive components of EVs. Hyundai recently announced that it would be introducing its EV brand Ioniq in India soon. As per sources, the company is gearing up to showcase the electric car at the upcoming Auto Expo, which will be held in Delhi in February 2018.

Maruti To Benefit From Parent Suzuki’s EV Tie-ups, Without The Risks

In the last several months, Japanese automotive giant Suzuki has doubled down in its efforts to gain a stronghold of the Indian EV market. In line with this goal, the company has partnered with a number of other players, including Denso and Toshiba, both of which would be supplying the core technology and fuel cells needed for Suzuki to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in its factories within the country.

Last month, it joined hands with Toyota to launch EVs suitable for Indian traffic and road conditions by 2020. However, the company is trying to protect its Indian subsidiary from the risks involved in manufacturing electric vehicles, while also allow it to reap the benefits directly. As per sources, in all of these partnerships, Maruti Suzuki India does not have any direct equity participation, which means that it will likely not be affected if the parent entity runs into losses or any other difficulties.

Elaborating further, Maruti Suzuki Chairman R. C. Bhargava said, “The whole tie-up between Suzuki and Toyota is specifically for the Indian market. Hence, it is solely going to benefit Maruti. The Gujarat plant is also operated (and owned) by Suzuki but it has benefitted only Maruti.”

While the electric vehicles market remains a lucrative destination for corporates and startups like Volvo, Xiaomi and Suzuki in India, there are quite a few challenges that need to be overcome to make EVs ready for mass adoption.

Manufacturing electric vehicles domestically, for instance, comes with the hurdle of high costs. Similarly, the production of batteries is largely an expensive affair. To be able to mitigate these challenges, the Indian government will have to focus its efforts on facilitating technological disruption. If need be, the government must also consider banning the production and sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles entirely like France and Britain.

Until then, stay tuned for the next edition of our weekly series of Electric Vehicles Roundup!