South Korean automobile company Hyundai has now committed to invest $200 Mn (INR 1,400 Cr) to develop affordable electric vehicles for the Indian market over the next three years.
Hyundai Motor India managing director SS Kim reportedly said that they would use the resources to develop a dedicated electric vehicle architecture for local customers. At a later stage, these vehicles could be exported to emerging markets.
The company along with engineers from the Namyang R&D Centre (South Korea) has already begun studies to assess the requirements of private buyers to determine the optimum range and price points for such products.
The company is in talks with vendors in India to develop a parallel ecosystem for electric vehicles (EVs) in India. At present, the company’s vendor base for traditional internal combustion engine vehicles and more is based in Chennai.
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The affordable electric vehicles project by Hyundai is currently underway in South Korea. The aim is to develop the Smart EV platform that will spawn a range of vehicles for emerging markets like India.
The announcement came when Hyundai launched long-range SUV Kona Electric priced at INR 25.3 lakh (ex-showroom, India).
Hyundai is also evaluating the prospect of setting up a lithium ion battery manufacturing unit in the next two to three years. “If we introduce mass market electric vehicles in the next three years, we will probably need that kind of localised ecosystem,” Kim said.
The announcement gains ground as in India, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd has been the sole mass-market EV maker despite limited volumes. Further, Tata Motors Ltd recently launched the EV version of its Tigor compact sedan that is aimed at commercial users. Also, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is expected to unveil the electric Wagon R, its first EV, in 2020.
Kim also said, “Our initial study suggests that instead of introducing more global products, we should have an India-specific EV platform and that will be mass market. So, we are working on development of those vehicles now. It is at a very early stage. If we come up with a great solution to the industry and market, we can expect huge volumes with mass-market EVs as well.”
According to reports, India recorded sales of over 7.5 Lakh EVs in FY2019 as opposed to 56K in FY18. Though the result for the year shows an exciting growth compared to last year, the industry continues to be concerned about the future of the segment post implementation of the new FAME II scheme from April 1.