The Auto Expo 2018 in New Delhi was characterized by the absence of a few of the biggest brands including the likes of Volkswagen Group, Nissan, Bajaj and Royal Enfield. However, the OEMs who did make it this year made sure that their Electric Vehicle (EVs) offerings and long-term roadmap was out there to be seen by everyone. The most eagerly awaited entry was Kia Motors and they certainly did not disappoint. Kia showcased its entire line-up of vehicles introducing the Indian customer to its range of compact hatches, luxurious sedans and SUVs. Kia will launch its first offering in India in 2019.
The 2018 edition of the Auto Expo saw the highest number of EV showcases by OEMs across vehicle segments, including two and three-wheelers apart from passenger and commercial vehicles. The message is very clear – that all mainstream OEMs are ready with their EV models should the Indian market demand a diverse range of electric mobility offerings.
Passenger Vehicles – EVs on Existing Platforms the Flavor of the Expo
“We will wait for the EV charging infrastructure to develop before we bring our EVs into the Indian market” said the CEO of a leading Japanese manufacturer with a strong presence in India. Although we have seen mixed responses from OEMs when asked about their EV plans for India, all key OEMs took this opportunity to display their EV models in front of the masses.
Mahindra and Tata Motors displayed a wide range of electric mobility offerings aimed not only at the private customer, but also fleet operators in the last-mile connectivity business. Although a few OEMs such as Honda showcased EV concepts, the emphasis during this edition was definitely on models that were closer to their production avatars. The excitement and buzz around EVs was evident as more customers were seen enquiring about key performance indicators such as range, battery capacity, charging time and price.
The manufacturers also made sure that imagery was attractive as well. All EVs sported green / blue colored livery attracting customers. The 2018 edition of the Auto Expo has marked the beginning of electric mobility as a mainstream offering. Buyers are more aware now of the various options available.
Two & Three-wheelers – Last-mile Connectivity driving Electric Propulsion Adoption
The focus on improving last-mile connectivity in India has been on top of the to-do list for successive governments over the past 15 years. In this direction, the Government has encouraged the development of last-mile connectivity solutions in collaboration with private operators to make public transport more attractive, efficient and viable.
The 2018 edition saw not only established mainstream OEMs such as Mahindra, Greaves and Piaggio but also smaller bespoke manufacturers focusing solely on electric 3-wheeler (3W) offerings such as Lohia and Vikram including Chinese OEMs such as Shigan. Lohia also had a solar powered 3-wheeler rickshaw on display. With the Government emphasizing the need to move toward renewable energy sources, these products are likely to build long-term viability for mobility operators.
Of particular interest was the prototype on display at the Greaves pavilion. Greaves has gone all the way in developing not only the vehicle but have also invested in the development of electric motor, battery management system and peripherals including battery and tires for the electric 3W model. It is time for the electric 3W industry to see participation from mainstream OEMs such as Mahindra and Greaves as this is only going to increase competition on product quality and reliability apart from strengthening service and aftermarket support for long term growth.
Connected Vehicles – transitioning towards autonomous driving capabilities
Passenger Vehicle and two-wheeler OEMs, focusing on introducing electric vehicle models are also investing significantly on connected services including the likes of data management and cloud enabled services. Most companies are experimenting with different data delivery models ranging from raw data to offering services such as targeted advertising with over 40% offering raw & embedded data through APIs. With consumer use-cases increasing by the day, OEMs are investing in data analytics to enable themselves and customers to create “value-added” services such as location-based suggestions, concierge services, etc. If all the connected vehicles with the ability to capture certain data types were monetized at the current value per car per year rates, the overall opportunity sums up to ~$2.0 billion.
Among two-wheelers, TVS was the key mainstream OEM with its Creon on display. Powered by three Lithium-ion batteries, the Creon can be charged to 80% in just 60 minutes. The model also offers a range of 80 km on full charge with a 0-60 kmph acceleration of just over 5 seconds. Twenty Two Motors also showcased its AI enabled, cloud connected electric 2W capable of a range of 160 km which can be charged to 70% within an hour. With significant investment in data analytics, Twenty Two Motors promises to offer customers a whole new experience in owning an electric 2W.
Concept EVs – Global Design Language Showcase to Attract Indian Buyers
Concept vehicles are always crowd-pullers in auto shows and this edition was no exception. With a wide variety of concept vehicles on display by all OEMs, the focus was largely on personalized mobility options with electric propulsion. Cloud connectivity, telematics, electric powertrain and personalization options were the key attractors among all concept vehicles on display.
As the country moves toward new forms of mobility solutions including aggregation and subscription-based usage, concept vehicles are much closer to their production siblings. Frost & Sullivan estimates EVs to account for about 30-35 percent of the new vehicles market by 2030 translating to about 2.0 – 2.5 million new passenger vehicles annually. In this direction, as we see more OEMs using auto shows as a platform to showcase their design language, technology roadmap and customer-centricity, the importance of electric mobility is higher than ever before. With non-automotive stakeholders such as insurance companies, energy suppliers and software companies jumping into the fray, the EV Ecosystem is fast turning into an eclectic mix of players who will play a key role in the long run.