Here's a look at all the news from the automobile sector that made headlines this past week
Electric cars are increasingly becoming talking points at major forums, not just in India but across the globe. Unresolved issues such as range anxiety, acquisition price, and end-of-life disposing methods have taken centre stage in debates. Some of these issues were highlighted during the week in India too. But before that, here's a look at all the news from the automobile sector that made headlines this past week.
Japanese sports bike maker, Kawasaki slashed prices of their most powerful products, the ZX-10R and the ZX-10RR, which are now going to be assembled in India. The ZX-10R will now be priced at Rs 12.80 lakh, compared to a sticker price of Rs 18.8 lakh, while the ZX-10RR will be priced at Rs 16.10 lakh, as against Rs 21.9 lakh earlier.
Hero MotoCorp has created a startup within the organisation to promote innovation and disruptive thinking. The Delhi-based company which is India's largest two-wheeler maker has set up HeroHatch, 'an incubation center that aims to foster innovation from within the organisation'.
Luxury car maker Aston Martin unveiled its most powerful production car -- the DBS Superleggera -- priced at 225,000 pounds or Rs 2.02 crore. The car will be available for purchase by the end of the year.
Tata Motors-controlled Land Rover launched the 2018 model year Range Rover and Range Rover Sport with prices starting at Rs 99 lakh (ex-showroom). The two models have received updates to their interiors and mild updates to their exteriors and are offered with a variety of petrol and diesel engine options.
Pune-based Bajaj Auto will start its assembly operations in Indonesia this financial year after years of stalemate. The company will manufacture kits of KTM models in Pune before shipping them to their assembly plant in the south east Asian country.
KTM AG, the street and dirt bike specialist, will move production of two Husqvarna motorcycle models from their current address in Austria to Bajaj Auto's Pune facility, which will be the only factory in the world to produce them. Production is slated to begin by end of this year or early next year.
After supplying the required number of electric cars as per specifications desired by the operator EESL, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra found themselves on a sticky wicket this week.
According to a report published by Mint, senior government officials have refused to use electric cars supplied to them by these two companies citing poor performance and low mileage. The cars struggled to run even 80 km on a full charge, though their rated mileage is 130 km, one of the officials was quoted as saying.
A day later, Tata Motors delivered a statement against the report stating that it had not come across any range issues with its Tigor electric sedan that was supplied to EESL. The company, however, did not outrightly reject the report either in its media statement issued late in the evening.
"Tata Motors has supplied the Tigor EVs to EESL in line with the specifications provided in the tender," the company said in a statement.
This is even as fellow Mumbai-based rival M&M, who was also the runner-up in getting the EV supply contract, refrained from commenting on the issue. Both companies were to supply 500 electric cars to EESL (350 by Tata Motors and 150 by M&M) by end of December last year.
However, so far only 150 of the contracted number have been supplied to EESL by the two companies. This is because the commensurate charging infrastructure within government buildings is not ready as, yet while production facilities of the two cars are fully ready.
While manufacturers appear confident of the practical usage of their electric cars in Indian driving conditions, their users have raised a red flag over it. So are electric cars impractical for everyday usage?
Mahindra & Mahindra is the largest manufacturer of electric cars in India and has been building them for the past eight years. Not only has the company sold sub-Rs 10 lakh electric cars to personal buyers, it has been supplying such cars to app-based cab aggregators like Ola and to Bangalore-based Lithium.
Earlier this year news agency Reuters interviewed 20 Ola drivers in Nagpur who drive electric cabs manufactured by Mahindra & Mahindra. More than a dozen of them have returned their electric cars and switched to diesel ones, or were planning to do so.
The drivers were unhappy with long wait times at charging stations and high operating expenses. M&M and Ola had announced a $8 million deal for 200 electric cars to be used as cabs in Nagpur.
While long charging hours (it takes anywhere between 1 hour and 7 hours to fully charge a vehicle, depending upon the drivetrain) remain one the biggest operational challenges, the main concern over the adoption of EVs is their price.
At around Rs 7.5 lakh, the e20 by M&M is the cheapest fully electric car in India, followed by the Mahindra eVerito, India's only battery-powered sedan priced at Rs 10.3 lakh. M&M has promised to electrify most of its SUVs alongside the launch of more fully-electric vehicles in coming years.
Tata Motors too has promised to launch electric versions of the Tiago and Tigor later this year. It is also supplying body shells of the Nano to Coimbatore-based company Jayem Auto, which is then strapping them with batteries before supplying them to a cab aggregator.