The rupee touched a new low against the US dollar at Rs 70, putting further pressure on the import bills of automakers. Two of the biggest car makers in their respective segments responded by raising prices of their models. But the week also brought in an interesting development on the electrification efforts of the government with regards to personal mobility. Here is a lowdown on all the important developments in the auto space during the week.
Race against time for truck makers
Truck makers such as Tata Motor, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra are racing against time to make their existing and future products compliant with the new axle load norms announced by the government. Certain types of intermediate, medium and heavy load carrying trucks have to be re-engineered so that they can be certified to carry loads according to the newly notified norms.
Maruti, Mercedes raise prices
Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car maker and Mercedes-Benz the country’s biggest luxury car maker said they will raise prices to offset adverse impact of rising costs. While Mercedes will raise prices by up to four percent from September Maruti Suzuki will increase prices by up to Rs 6100 with effect from Thursday. Mahindra, Tata Motors and Honda have already done a price hike.
Hero Motocorp launches Xtreme 200R
The country’s largest two-wheeler maker, Hero Motocorp, said it is set to commence country-wide sales of its new premium motorcycle Xtreme 200R, with dispatches from its factories starting next week. Marking the company’s re-entry into the premium motorcycle segment, the Xtreme 200R is the first among the new range of Hero’s premium motorcycles that are slated for launch this year. The Xtreme 200R has been priced at Rs 89,900 (ex-showroom Delhi).
TVS Motor’s Apache RR 310 sales skids
TVS Motor’s Apache RR 310 sales are fizzling and flickering, so much that the Venu Srinivasan-led bike-maker produced just 351 units of the vehicle in July. Production has skidded to just a third of 983-unit sales peak it had hit in March, a dip that may push the company to have aggressive strategies to spur sales.
Govt allows electrification of cars
In a desperate effort to curb vehicular pollution the government agreed to allow private and commercial cars to be retrofitted with electric motors thus transforming them into a hybrid vehicle. Car owners will now be able to fit a hybrid electric system kit in in their vehicles, which is essentially an electric propulsion system.
Weighing more than 100 kilograms the entire kit consists of a electric motor, battery, controller and battery management system. Several small scale businesses offer such conversion and the cost of which can be anywhere between Rs 1.2 lakh to Rs 6 lakh depending on the size of the vehicle.
The kits can help the car run on battery electric power for 50-80 kms on a full charge and a top speed of around 90km/hr for a compact car with an engine of less than 1.5 litre petro/diesel. For a bigger car with a larger trunk space the batteries can power for a range of 130-180kms and a top speed of 120km/hr.
Using regenerative braking, intelligent 48V charging and electric assist, the system is able to achieve 25 percent improvement in vehicle mileage, claims a Bengaluru-based firm Altigreen Propulsion Labs. There is also a simultaneous reduction in tailpipe emission especially in densely populated cities.
The government though has made it mandatory for manufacturer or supplier of Hybrid Electric System Kit or Pure Electric System Kit to obtain the type approval certificate from a test agency specified.
Vehicles which are conforming to older and outdated Bharat Stage emission standards, which are also notorious for low mileage, can reduce their carbon footprint substantially using this method. The car owner gets the choice to drive using either of the two modes, electric or petrol/diesel.
The driver can switch to either of the modes depending on the driving conditions. If in a congested city driving condition the car can be switched to electric mode and if being driven on highways it can be switched back to the conventional mode.
Market watchers say that this will prepare car owners to switch to battery-powered cars of the future, which will be increasingly up for adoption from 2020 onwards. Car owners will have to learn about driving range on electric motors as well as its driving performance and hybrids offer the bridge between the two technologies.