Emissions, fuel economy norms will push Indian car makers to make more hybrids

The need to meet stricter emission and fuel economy standards, due to kick in over the next 2-4 years, will push Indian auto companies to adopt hybrid powertrains in a much larger way than they ever did before.

Companies are aggressively working on cars and sports utility vehicles that can run on a combination of petrol-electric or diesel-electric powertrains. Tata Motors is currently testing a number of options for the future and promises to launch hybrids by 2022.

Speaking to Moneycontrol, Rajendra Petkar, head – power systems engineering, Tata Motors, said, “BS-VI will come in 2020 and corporate average fuel economy will come in by 2022. So these regulations itself will force you to go for hybridization on a good number of models.”

Maruti Suzuki, the country’s biggest car maker, is also working on strong hybrids for India with mileage of over 30 km per litre, such as the hybrid Swift. Besides fuel economy, the other important driver of demand will be consumer aspiration.

“The second important driver is what is going to be the consumer aspiration. There are certain class of vehicles where the fuel economy does not matter but aspiration does. There are going to be products which will be electrified that we will be offering. We are working on a number of options and the right ones will be pulled up suitable for the right consumer class,” said Petkar.

Corporate average fuel efficiency norms require cars to be 30 percent or more fuel efficient from 2022 than at present. The mileage improvement will be based on the volume of fuel consumed by a vehicle in a 100 km run. The move is targeted at reducing the carbon footprint of the automobile industry.

Therefore, a majority of cars will have to run at more than 20 km per litre and that would only be possible, particularly for heavier sports utility vehicles, with the help of hybrid drivetrains.

Only a handful of models such as the Toyota Camry and Prius, Honda Accord and BMW i8 come in hybrid variants. Mild hybrids from Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra are already on sale. The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz diesel-electric hybrid generates a claimed mileage of 28 km per litre.

Tata Motors does not have a hybrid in its line up as yet but all its future models based on the Omega and Alfa platforms will house hybrid and electric solutions. For instance, the showcased concept cars – H5X and 45X – are designed in such a way that they can accommodate hybrid and electric powertrain.

“Electric vehicles will have to find a rightful place in the market. But will the EV transformation happen in short span of time? The answer is no. The cost is the biggest impediment, especially cost of batteries. We are working on how to bring the costs down,” said Petkar.moneycontrol

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