Of India’s 150 million drivers, only 8,000 want electric cars. This is why
Hyundai Motor Co. launched India’s first electric SUV this summer with a quirky TV commercial urging millennials to “Drive Into the Future.” A few months later, the automaker finds itself on a lonesome road.
In a nation of about 150 million drivers, only 130 Kona SUVs were sold to dealers through August. That slow pace is emblematic of the difficulties carmakers face in establishing an electric foothold in the fourth-biggest auto market, even with committed government support.
The Kona sells for about $35,000 while the average Indian earns about $2,000 a year — and the best-selling gas guzzler costs $4,000. Yet Kona’s sticker price only kicks off the conversation about why electric vehicles (EV) aren’t gaining traction in India — there’s also a lack of charging infrastructure, a reluctance by banks to finance purchases and an unwillingness among government departments to use EVs as directed.
Barely more than 8,000 EVs were sold locally during the past six years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China sells more than that in two days, according to BloombergNEF projections.
“The affordability of electric cars in India is just not there,” said R.C. Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., maker of the sales leader Alto. “I don’t think the government or the car companies expect that in the next two to three years there will be any real buying of electric vehicles.”
The segment still isn’t making meaningful strides more than four years after the government started promoting cleaner vehicles for one of the world’s most-polluted countries. In February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration committed to spending $1.4 billion on subsidies, infrastructure and publicity.
The potential of India’s EV market can’t be ignored. There are only 27 cars for every 1,000 Indians, compared with 570 for the same number of Germans, giving global automakers an opportunity to challenge the dominance of Maruti –- the unit of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. that sells every other car on local roads.
Maruti’s not introducing its first EV until next year. Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. build some base-level electric cars, yet they have a limited range or are exclusively for government use. The Kona gives Hyundai a first-mover advantage in a market where EVs may comprise 28% of new vehicle sales by 2040, according to BNEF.
Not only Hyundai sees opportunity in Asia’s third-largest economy. MG Motor, the iconic British carmaker owned by China’s SAIC Motor Corp., and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. see EVs as a way to expand in the country.
“Somebody has to take the leadership, and it will trickle down,” said Rajeev Chaba, managing director of MG Motor India, which plans to launch an electric SUV by December.
The process of scaling up will be slow, and MG Motors would be satisfied selling 100 cars a month initially.
“We have to start somewhere,” Chaba said.
Right now, though, consumers pass over electric cars for bigger, longer-range and cheaper gas guzzlers, said Vinkesh Gulati, vice president of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations, which represents more than 80% of automobile dealers in India.
More than half of the passenger vehicles sold in India last year cost $8,000 or less, according to BNEF. Electric cars won’t achieve price parity with gasoline-powered cars until the early 2030s, BNEF said.
“Consumers care about EVs, the excitement is there,” Gulati said. “But that stops the moment we tell them the price.”
Yet even for those who can afford the Kona, plugging in is problematic. Nidhi Maheshwary, a 40-year-old finance professional working near New Delhi, wanted to buy an EV to show her children an example of environmental responsibility.
So when Hyundai launched the Kona, Maheshwary ordered one. Sounds easy, but it didn’t turn out that way.
Almost immediately, she got into a spat with neighbours about charging the SUV in her apartment building’s basement lot. The residents’ society said it posed a fire risk -– even though Hyundai engineers and the fire department said it was safe.
So Maheshwary charges the car at her office while weighing potential recourse against those neighbours. Hyundai offers two small chargers with the Kona, although it can take as many as 19 hours to fill up the vehicle.
India had an estimated 650 charging stations for cars and SUVs in 2018, according to BNEF. China, the largest market for EVs, has about 456,000 charging points, official data shows.
India’s sparse charging infrastructure stems from locals’ chicken-and-egg approach to the issue.
At a conference in New Delhi last month, government officials and EV-component makers debated whether to create adequate charging infrastructure to promote sales or whether to wait until there are enough EVs on the roads before building it out.
“We are pretty sure that people are going to like our EV, but we would have our challenges like infrastructure,” Chaba said. “But we have our plans to handle that.”
Those include first requiring that the buyer can install a charger at home, he said.
But there’s another factor besides income that makes it difficult to pay for one of these cars. The unaffordability of EVs also stems from the unavailability of financing, said Pranavant P., a partner at Deloitte India focusing on the future of mobility.
Until there’s an established secondary market for EVs, banks and other institutions are hesitant to extend purchasing loans, he said. A majority of Indian vehicle sales are financed by lenders.
The government, both federal and local, will have to offer help for EVs to be adopted in the mass market, said Puneet Anand, group head of marketing at Hyundai Motor India. Modi’s budget in July included incentives such as reduced taxes, income tax benefits and import duty exemptions for certain EV parts.
The first beneficiaries will be the ubiquitous scooters and motorcycles — with subsidies meaning to support sales of 1 million two-wheelers, compared with 55,000 electric cars.
Yet the government still needs to practice what it’s preaching. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., a joint venture of state-run companies responsible for replacing state vehicles with EVs, awarded its first tender in September 2017 for 10,000 cars.
But as of July, agencies had accepted only 1,000 of them. Now EESL is offering the vehicles to taxi companies.
None of that helps Devdas Nair, a 34-year-old advertising professional in New Delhi looking for new wheels. He wants to try an EV and says he’d pay somewhat more to help the environment and for future savings. Yet for him right now, it’s too much of a gamble.
“I was excited about the Kona, but the price tag is just too much,” he said. “We don’t even know how the charging infrastructure is going to be in India. That makes me rethink — actually not think about it at all.
Breaking News: Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse Sends Shockwaves Through Financial World – Is India’s Banking System Next to Crumble?
Are Indian Banks Ready to Face the Heat of Rising Interest Rates?
As Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) faces the heat of collapsing amidst rising domestic interest rates, Indian banks are left wondering if they are next in line. With the Indian economy still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of rising interest rates could lead to a devastating blow to the country’s banking sector. Will Indian banks be able to weather the storm or will they collapse like SVB?
Indian banks have already faced a tumultuous few years with multiple frauds and defaults taking place, leaving many questioning their resilience. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) indicating that it may hike interest rates in the near future, the pressure on Indian banks is set to increase. The question remains – are Indian banks prepared to face the heat of rising interest rates or will they buckle under the pressure? Only time will tell.
Delhi: Businesses can now remain open 24×7, over 300 applications cleared by L-G
From restaurants to transport services and BPOs to online delivery services, all those who apply for exemptions will be allowed to operate 24×7 in Delhi starting next week, with Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena approving the proposal to exempt 314 such places to operate all day long, some of them pending since 2016, officials said.
“The L-G has directed that notification to this effect be issued within seven days. The decision of providing exemption under Sections 14, 15 & 16 of the Delhi Shops & Establishment Act, 1954, is expected to boost employment generation and promote a positive and favorable business environment that is a prerequisite for economic growth. The decision will also provide a fillip to the much desired ‘nightlife’ in the city,” said an official.
Swiggy Instamart figures, Mumbaikars ordered 570 times more condoms in the last one year
Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year.
These days people are doing online shopping fiercely in the country. Through Grocery Service Platforms, the goods of need are easily reaching people’s homes. From vegetables to medicines, just a few clicks on the smartphone are reaching people’s doorsteps. According to a survey, Swiggy Instamart has provided service to more than 9 million users between June 2021 and June 2022. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers.
Healthcare products orders
Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. According to a survey, Mumbaikars have ordered 570 times more condoms in the last 12 months. At the same time, in 2021, Instamart received orders for about two million sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons. Apart from this, a lot of orders have also been received for grocery items.
56 lakh packets of noodles ordered
According to the survey, between April and June last year, there was a 42 percent increase in the demand for ice cream in these metro cities. It was also learned that most of the orders were placed after 10 pm. In metro cities, people have ordered 5.6 million packets of instant noodles. In Hyderabad, users ordered around 27,000 bottles of fresh juice during the summer months.
60 lakh eggs ordered
The demand for eggs has increased manifold in the last two years. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year. According to the report, customers from Bangalore and Hyderabad ordered the maximum number of eggs for breakfast. At the same time, people of Mumbai, Jaipur, and Coimbatore have ordered the maximum number of eggs online at the time of dinner.
Demand for dairy products
There has been a huge jump in orders for both tea and coffee. According to the report, there has been an increase of 2,000 percent in its demand. At the same time, 3 crore orders of milk have come for milk. People from Bangalore and Mumbai have placed more orders in the morning. Regular milk, full cream milk and toned milk are the most ordered dairy products.
Ordering fruits and vegetables
Orders for 62,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been received in the last year. With 12,000 orders, Bengaluru tops the list of organic product buyers. At the same time, Hyderabad and Bangalore together have ordered more than 290 tonnes of green chilies in 12 months. Over 2 lakh orders have been received for bathroom cleaners, scrub pads, drain cleaners, and more in the last year.
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