Opinion

The Hybrid and Electric Automotive Scene in India

The Indian automotive industry has always been a little late to adapt to the changing times. While markets such as America and UK have embraced hybrids and electrics by offering vast tax benefits and infrastructure to promote the use of such vehicles, the Indian government has not yet made alternative fuel powered vehicles as accessible as some of budget hatchbacks currently in the market. However, Mahindra, BMW and a few other car makers are now investing in hybrid and electric vehicles for the Indian market. We take a look at some production models and concepts from manufacturers that showcase the progress in these niche segments.

BMW i8

The BMW i8 was the car that showed us how exciting moderately powered hybrids can be. First showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, the i8 made its big debut early last year. Despite being powered by the same 1.5 l three cylinder motor found on newer Minis, the i8 can propel itself from 0 to 100 kmph in a staggering 3.6 seconds. The immense speed coupled with the cyberpunk styling and swan doors, endows the i8 with hypercar levels of charisma. Sadly however, despite its breakthroughs, the i8 is far beyond the reach of the general public.

front view BMW i8
The BMW i8’s high price tag puts it far beyond the reach of common man

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has been on sale here in India for quite a few years now. However, while markets abroad are treated with the all new Prius, Toyota Kirloskar is still selling the older model for the Indian market. Although the Prius is touted as an accessible, entry level hybrid, the staggering price of INR 38 lakhs keeps it out of reach for the majority populace.

The Toyota Prius' older generation is still on sale here in India
The Toyota Prius’ older generation is still on sale here in India

Mahindra e2o

Soon after Mahindra acquired the REVA electric company, the Indian car maker launched the new and improved e2o EV. Unlike the bare bones Reva electric, the e2o features numerous hardware and software features that put the vehicle well ahead of its time. Priced at a reasonable INR 5.96 lakhs, the two door, four seater electric hatchback features interesting features such as full LCD instrument cluster, touchscreen infotainment system and projector headlights. While the electric motor that drives the front wheels produces a meager 26 hp, the car’s lightweight and small size ensure the motor isn’t overworked.

The Mahindra e2o is a much better product than its predecessor
The Mahindra e2o is a much better product than its predecessor

Mahindra Halo

The Mahindra Halo was a concept sports car showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. Although Mahindra has made no recent headlines for the future of its Halo concept, the electric sports car showcased the car maker’s plans for the future. Although exact details were not revealed, Mahindra did claim that the Halo concept can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h.  The interiors feature a combination of current and next gen elements such as the conventional glove box, large touchscreen infotainment system and the sporty flat bottomed steering wheel.

Mahindra's Halo concept is an electric sports car capable of 200 kmph
Mahindra’s Halo concept is an electric sports car capable of 200 kmph

Toyota Camry Hybrid

At INR 31.9 lakhs, the Camry Hybrid sedan, is far cheaper and better equipped than the Prius. However, the lackluster styling and overdose of chrome is rather jarring in a segment populated by cars such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA Class. The car produces a total of 158 bhp @ 5700 RPM and a peak torque figure of 213 Nm @ 4500 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six speed automatic gearbox.

The Camry Hybrid is a fuel saving luxury executive saloon
The Camry Hybrid is a fuel saving luxury executive saloon

Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS

Maruti Suzuki, one of the biggest manufacturers of the Indian car industry has its grasp in almost every segment. However, similar to other car makers, up until now Maruti Suzuki lacked the initiative to launch hybrid or electric vehicles due to their high cost of research and low return. With the 2015 Ciaz SHVS, Maruti Suzuki has taken the first small step into the still niche mainstream hybrid car segment. Unlike traditional hybrids such as the Prius and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Ciaz SHVS implements a host of small fuel saving techniques to earn the moniker of a hybrid. Some of the fuel saving features the Ciaz SHVS makes use of are the automatic start-stop system, Deceleration Energy Regenerating function and the Engine Power Assist function. With added bonus of a fairly reasonable price tag (INR 8.23 lakhs) and the exemption from Delhi’s odd-even rule, the Ciaz was one of the most interesting launches of last year.

The Mahindra XUV500 Diesel Hybrid is yet to hit production
The Mahindra XUV500 Diesel Hybrid is yet to hit production

Mahindra XUV5OO Diesel Hybrid

The Mahindra XUV500 is one of the most popular SUVs currently on sale. Its impressive exterior, feature laden cabin and attractive price tag was more than enough to catapult the indigenous SUV to the top. At the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, Mahindra also showcased the XUV5oo hybrid, which was touted to be India’s first diesel hybrid. However, the XUV500 is yet to reach production stages and hopefully we might see the full fledged hybrid later this year.

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Psst! Weekend Warrior isn't really his name. Chirag is an automotive journalist for TurboZens, one of the fastest growing autoblogs in India. if you can't find him tearing up clubs (his backyard) every weekend, you can always try Google+