The year has progressed on predicted lines with demand far outstripping supply because of the continuing semiconductor shortages as well as overall logistics and supply chain problems. The bigger the company, the harder have they been hit. Maruti Suzuki, for example, has a waiting list of over 200,000 cars with the only car available off the shelf being the entry level Alto, while the 2nd largest manufacturer in the country, Hyundai Motor, continues to have waiting periods of over six months for many of its models. At the other end of the spectrum, the premium and luxury manufacturers have also been hit with waiting periods extending to months for many of the models in their portfolios.
While the supply problems are going to continue for another few months, given the rising fuel prices and multiple states announcing incentives, everyone’s attention is turning towards electric vehicles and the plans of the big manufacturers on that front, especially after the Tata Motors announcement of securing US $1 billion funding for its EV business. Tata Motors actually is already the leader in EVs in the country but with vehicles that are still on the expensive side. Who will be the first to launch a mass market electric car in the country remains to be seen. Suzuki was the first to announce the setting up of India’s first lithium-ion battery plant but Maruti Suzuki will enter the market only when it sees it can get enough volumes though it has been testing an EV based on the Wagon R. Hyundai has been studying an EV based on the i10 platform for a while now but Tata Motors already has a new EV-ready platform, a derivative of which underpins the Tata Punch and the Altroz. Mahindra had a headstart in the field but has been busy renewing its entire portfolio and gone easy on the EV front. However the one company that has an EV ready on a platform that is used in India is Renault. The Renault City K.Ze that is based on the Kwid and a derivative of which was showcased at the auto expo 2020 is already on sale in China at a price of about Rs 6.5 lakh.
It may appear that the country lacks the infrastructure for electric cars but rising fuel costs and Indian driving habits are both conducive for electric cars and the early mover with a sensible mass market electric car will definitely be surprised by how quickly the country adopts electric vehicles.
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