Hyundai Motor India plans to launch its ‘affordable’ and ‘mass market’ range of electric vehicles to homegrown cab giant Ola by 2022-23. The cars, which have been custom-made for Indian buyers, will be based on a new vehicle platform that aims at keeping the cost of manufacturing low and making them cost-effective.
According to Albert Biermann, Global Head of Research & Development at Hyundai Motor Company, electric vehicles will catch on in India as fleet operators use them.
Biermann stated, “If you run a fleet, you can have your own charging stations, you can have your own hydrogen re-fuelling stations. For private use, infrastructure for charging EVs (in India) is almost nothing. And for fuel cells, it is even less. For the time being, fleet business is more in the focus for electrification.”
The vehicle could be priced under Rs 10 lakhs and will be sold to commercial buyers (like Ola) and personal buyers. Hyundai will also look to invest in the production and acquisition of electric vehicle batteries from India in association with a local partner.
According to reports by Moneycontrol, Seon Seob Kim, Managing Director & CEO, Hyundai stated, “Once we develop the mass-market electric vehicle it will become our solution for Ola. We are looking at 2022 as the likely timeline for launching that EV, depending upon the industry and infrastructure which needs to be ready. Hopefully, it should be priced below Rs 10 lakh.”
In July, Hyundai launched its very first battery-powered vehicle ‘Kona’ in India. It is priced at around Rs 23.71 lakh, this heavily imported vehicled hoarded 150 clients in less than a month.
Hyundai-Kia’s Biggest Investment
Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Group made their biggest-ever combined investment of $300 million in ride-hailing platform Ola in March 2019. According to reports, the agreement will see the three companies extensively collaborating to develop unique fleet and mobility solutions; building EVs tailor-made for India; as well as nurturing the best in class opportunities and offerings for aspiring driver-partners with customized vehicles, on Ola.
The companies agreed to ‘co-create solutions to operate and manage fleet vehicles’ for Ola. The partnership would offer various financial services, including lease and installment payments. Ola aims to have 2 million partners by 2022, presently at 1.3 million.
For private users, Hyundai would be trying to bring in hybrid vehicles. Howsoever, looking into the future, Biermann stated that the only way to curb fuel consumption and vehicular pollution is fuel cell vehicles.
He added, “The final solution probably will be hydrogen. BEV (battery electric vehicles) is only an interim solution, especially when you look at commercial — these big bus batteries don’t work.”
Hyundai’s plans to invest in battery production & procurement
The cost of a battery in an electronic vehicle makes up to the maximum cost of production for the vehicle. It can go up to 50% of the cost of the vehicle. Keeping this in mind, Hyundai is likely to explore battery production market in India for investments and acquisitions, to keep their costs low. Maruti Suzuki, a competitor, will be supplied batteries from Suzuki Motor Corporation from a Toyota plant in Gujarat beginning 2020. Mahindra & Mahindra will be open to partnering with players globally to set up a lithium-ion cell manufacturing plant.