Hyundai set to lead global firms in selling EVs in India

The S. Korean company plans to bring next year CKD kits from its factories at home


MUMBAI • Hyundai Motor Co is poised to be the first global automaker to introduce an electric vehicle (EV) in India, ahead of market leader Suzuki Motor Corp, as the government pursues Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition for all new cars to be battery powered by 2030.

The South Korean company plans to bring next year completely-knocked down (CKD) kits from its factories at home, YK Koo, CEO of Hyundai’s India unit, said at the Auto Expo in New Delhi yesterday.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will introduce its first electric car in 2020, CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said at the show.

In India, where about three million fossil fuel-powered passenger vehicles sell annually, some foreign automakers are looking to get into the new segment as the government considers a plan to have only electric car sales by 2030. Local manufacturers Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd won an order to supply 10,000 battery-powered cars to government- backed Energy Efficiency Services Ltd.

“All automakers have realised the government’s seriousness about EV goals and are looking to test the waters by announcing a few models,” said Allen Tom Abraham, a New Delhi-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“The larger manufacturers such as Maruti and Hyundai would not want to lose market shares to smaller peers and would be looking to use the first set of incentives to build capabilities that would help them scale-up once the market matures.”

Some automakers are preferring to wait for government policy. Renault SA, the French automaker, will take a decision on when and how to bring its models after it gets policy clarity, Sumit Sawhney, CEO of the company’s India unit, said.

Kia Motors Corp, the South Korean company that will start operations in India next year, will look to introduce EVs once customers and infrastructure are ready, Manohar Bhat, head of sales and marketing at the local unit, said.

Hyundai will consider local manufacturing of its EVs depending on the market and government support, Koo said in an interview. The automaker is currently conducting a market survey, he said.

The pursuit for all-electric new car sales in less than a decade and a half is part of Modi’s plan to champion the cause of combating climate change.

BNEF predicts the target will be “incredibly difficult” in the absence of a clearly defined policy and without subsidies.

Companies in China, where sales of new-energy vehicles surged 53% to 777,000 units last year, have benefitted from generous funding offered by various regional governments.