Kia Motors keeps launch of its India-ready electric vehicle on the back burner

The production facility at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, which has an annual capacity of 3 lakh units, is also equipped to produce electric vehicles.

By: | Published: October 11, 2019 7:17 AM
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New entrant Kia Motors has an electric vehicle (EV) ready in India but the company has no plans to launch it anytime soon due to low consumer demand, owing to lack of charging infrastructure and high cost of vehicles.

Manohar Bhat, vice-president and head for sales and marketing, Kia Motors India, said charging infrastructure and policy for EVs impact the consumer demand more than anything else. “We are still not clear on these two aspects. Currently, there are hindrances like lack of charging stations, cost of the battery and technology and no clarity of EV policy,” Bhat told FE.

The Indian arm of the South Korean automaker has readied an electric car — Soul — which can cover around 450 km on a single charge. The production facility at Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, which has an annual capacity of 3 lakh units, is also equipped to produce electric vehicles.

Batteries account for nearly 40% of the total vehicle cost and the import of lithium ion cells, major component of the battery, by all the manufacturers makes electric vehicles costlier than the global standards.

Bhat says Soul is a proven vehicle and is running in Europe and the US. “We don’t want to launch the vehicle just for show purpose, which will sell just about few 100 units. Rather, we would first think of utilising the plant capacity properly.”

Even as the government has been pushing for adoption of EVs, these account for less than 1% of the total vehicles sold in India. The government has also promised subsidies to companies building the charging stations but high costs involved in making them and low volumes are keeping the firms on the backfoot. According to Economic Survey 2018-19, there are around 650 charging stations across the country, including those for two-wheelers, significantly less than over 3 lakh points in China.

Moreover, incentives provided by the government under the FAME scheme do not include cars for private buyers.

Manufacturers, however, have been showcasing their products. While Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) have Tigor EV and eVerito electric cars, Hyundai has premium electric car Kona for personal buyers, priced around Rs 24 lakh. Tigor EV and eVerito are priced around Rs 11 lakh.

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