If the future is electric, the present is totally focused on compact sports utility vehicles and premium hatchbacks. This is what a quick perusal of launches, previews and unveiling of concepts by the country’s leading auto manufacturers at the Auto Expo that began on Wednesday shows. With electric vehicles (EVs) the latest fad in the auto sector, almost all the players talked of their plans to develop such vehicles, with some seeking more clarity and a policy in this regard before they embark on their electric journey. However, compact SUVs and premium hatchbacks, which have been fuelling the growth of auto sales for the past two to three years, are clearly to be the focus area to remain competitive in the market. Entry-level small cars and even mid-size sedans are no more the focus areas.
For instance, the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India unveiled its concept compact car with SUV traits. Named ConceptFutureS, it is a uniquely styled compact car with distinct SUV-like characters and will define the next generation of design for compact vehicles in the country, the company said. “Compact is the natural choice of India’s car customers. Compact needs a fresh design language, one that is bold, confident and dynamic. Our designers have created this brand new design, aggressive on the outside, and bold and inviting interiors,” Maruti Suzuki India managing director & CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said at the unveiling. It also unveiled its electric concept compact SUV, e-Survivor, which demonstrates its efforts in the direction of electric mobility and presents an innovative, futuristic vision, the company said. Maruti has already said that it would launch its first EV in the country in 2020.
Hyundai Motor India’s strategy is no different from that of Maruti. On Wednesday it launched a new version of its premium compact hatchback Elite i20 priced between Rs 5.34 lakh and Rs 9.15 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). It also unveiled its global EV Ioniq. The company has already said that its first EV in the country would be launched in 2019.
Homegrown Tata Motors unveiled two concept vehicles of a luxury SUV and a premium hatchback, besides showcasing six electric vehicles in the mass and personal mobility segments. In the passenger vehicles (PV) segment, as part of the two-architecture strategy, Tata Motors made the global unveiling of the H5Xconcept from the ‘Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced’ Architecture, a five-seater luxury SUV. It also showcased the 45X concept, a premium hatchback based on the versatile ‘Agile Light Flexible Advanced Architecture’. Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran said Tata Motors is committed to the future of mobility, especially the government’s vision in the EV space. “We are making a serious commitment towards innovation and investment in the launch of a full range of products that will connect with the aspirations of our customers,” he added. Tata Motors is displaying an extended range of six EV products in the personal and mass mobility segments. These include the 12m Electric Bus with a smart bus stop and passenger carriers — the Magic EV and the Iris EV. The Tiago EV, the Tigor EV and the Racemo EV were also showcased.
Meanwhile, Japanese auto major Honda said that it will wait for clarity in policy for EVs in the country before firming up its plans for the segment. “In order to stitch up a strategy (for EV segment), we are requesting to have a roadmap regarding plans of charging stations… Without a clear policy, it will be difficult to select models,” Honda Cars India president and CEO Yoichiro Ueno said. Only after there is clarity would the company be able to assess whether such vehicles could be manufactured in the country, he said. SC cancels iron ore mining leases of 88 firms in Goa “The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa was unduly hasty, without taking all relevant material into consideration and ignoring available relevant material and therefore not in the interests of mineral development,” it added.
The decision, the bench said, was taken only to augment the revenues of the state, which is outside the purview of Section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. “The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa is liable to be set aside and is quashed,” the bench held. The apex court also directed the setting up of a special investigation team and a team of chartered accountants to recover the amount from mining companies that were allowed to extract ore in violation of the law. The judgment came on a petition filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, which had earlier also raised the issue of companies carrying out mining in violation of various statutes.