Electric vehicles have potential

Electric vehicles have the potential to gain customer attention in India in the context of increasing fuel prices and their desire to go green, according to a new report.

The report 'Gaining traction: Will consumers ride the electric vehicle wave?' by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited's Global Manufacturing Industry Group is based on a survey conducted across 17 countries including India, China, Japan, Europe and USA covering 13,500 respondents.

The majority of potential consumers are likely to be educated and from urban locations, according to the report. India seems to have almost equal number of male and female potential buyers unlike some of the more developed markets where male buyers tend to be significant, it said.

Interestingly, the early adopters are likely to be from the affluent sections as compared to the middle income groups in the developed economies.

"Electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer just an idea in the minds of car buyers. They are willing to consider the EV as a practical commuting option.

While this is good news for manufacturers of EVs, it must also be recognised that there are a number of barriers that they have to cross before this interest to consider electric vehicles translates into sales for them," Kumar Kandaswami, Manufacturing Industry Leader, Deloitte in India, said.

A third of Indian customers expect to purchase Electric Vehicles around Rs 4 lakh and another third willing to go up to Rs 7 lakh. This would correspond to the prices they would pay for their conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars. Clearly, there is unwillingness to pay a premium for clean technology, as is found to be the case in most markets.

According to the report, the manufacturers have to overcome the challenge of charging time. About half of the customers would expect this to be two hours or less.

The realities that can influence the pace of adoption are the price of fuel and fuel efficiency of the ICE vehicles. A little over 70 per cent of the respondents said they would consider the EV if the fuel prices crossed Rs 85 per litre.

Conversely, 74 per cent of the respondents are less likely to consider buying an Electric Vehicle if the ICE cars were to deliver 32 km per litre of fuel.

"These are important parameters for the manufacturers to consider while looking at the market opportunity for Electric Vehicles. It is important to note the willingness to trade off one parameter against another would depend on the economics of owning an EV and the capabilities that are offered by the manufacturers evolve," Kandaswami said.

"On the basis of the cost, range and charging time realities of the Electric Vehicles available in the market, we estimate EVs to be less that 5 per cent of the total passenger vehicles sold in India by 2020. This, of course, can change dramatically if the OEMs are able to achieve technology and price breakthroughs," he said.
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Toyota's Electric Vehicles With BHEL

The entire auto industry in the Indian market is now choosing the optional mode of fuel from electricity. However, Toyota is wooing the government based electricity firm Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd for designing electric vehicle.

According to a report from the Ministry of Heavy Industries of India, Toyota is on the verge of negotiating with the officials of BHEL for availing subsidy for electric vehicles. The move comes in the wake of earlier moves by the firm on producing electric buses and electric locomotives. Hence there will be an official visit by the team of personnel from BHEL and the Ministry to the camps of Toyota Nagoya in Japan. Prior to Toyota, GM and Nissan-Renault have been on the electric vehicle concept globally. Toyota is on the scene with its Prius hybrid while M&M is running its Reva. However, the major players like Maruti, Hyundai, GM, Tata Motors are all set to step into this EV concept.

The ultimate aim for Toyota is to have a pioneering partner for delivering good vehicles under electric version. The proposal may end up either as a JV or as a sharing of technical set up. BHEL has earlier got a similar offer from Dutch based DHBC BV for availing such facility under Inter-Ministerial Governing Council on EVs. Almost important ministries will come under this purview.

The Indian auto market is gradually gliding towards alternative fuel in the wake of rising fuel costs. To promote such moves, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is offering an incentive of 20% subsidy for electric cars and two wheelers on factory price. The scheme is valid till 2011-12 and the fund allocated is Rs95 crore but on a precondition that there must be a minimum of 30% localized components.

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Ford Plans to Start Electric-Car Tests in Germany

Ford Motor Co. will start a two-year test program of electric Focus compact cars and Transit vans in Germany on Jan. 4 as the U.S. company prepares to introduce battery-powered models as early this year.

The 25 vehicles will be driven under normal traffic conditions in Cologne, where Ford’s European division is based, said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen, which is overseeing the 15 million-euro ($22 million) study.

The drivers will include researchers and customers selected by Ford, Dudenhoeffer said today in a telephone interview. Data from the models will be monitored on computers that can simulate testing of more than 10,000 vehicles, he said.

Bernd Meier, a spokesman for Ford in Cologne, said the study is the automaker’s first in mainland Europe. The company is already trying out battery-powered vehicles in London, Meier said.

Ford, the first U.S. automaker to offer a hybrid model, said on Dec. 8 that it may spend $300 million to $500 million on factories in its home state of Michigan to build electric vehicles and batteries. The Dearborn-based company has a target of rolling out an electric-powered version of the Transit Connect commercial van next year, followed by an Ford electric Focus in 2011.

Local utility RheinEnergie AG will supply vehicle-charging stations for the test, which is being financed by the German government’s economic-stimulus package, Dudenhoeffer said.

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Electric cars target capital

London could be awash with electric cars by the middle of the next decade, as PSA Peugeot Citroen admitted it is targeting the capital in a big sales drive for its new iOn and C-Zero models — but only if the Government offers good enough subsidies for motorists to buy them.

The French motor giant said that it intends to put its first mainstream electric cars in London motor showrooms by this time next year.

The company's research and manufacturing chief, Guillaume Faury, told the Evening Standard that a three-year, €3 billion (£2.7 billion) ramp-up will see Peugeot Citroen aiming for 25,000 sales in Europe by 2015.

"We will be targeting big cities with congestion charges and emissions zones," said Faury. "London is naturally an important place for us."

The iOn and C-Zero hatchbacks which are being developed with Mitsubishi of Japan will have an 80-mile range on a single charge.

The most expensive part of the electric cars are their lithium-ion batteries costing around £10,000 each.

Peugeot Citroen is making it plain that its electric cars will not be commercially viable unless there are substantial government subsidies. In the UK, Government incentive schemes being talked about could provide up to £5000 to buy a new electric car.

"Incentive schemes will make or break this technology," said Faury. "We are saying on price that in a pay-per-month finance package the cost of an electric car will be no more expensive than running a conventional car on finance."

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Honda Plans For Electric Car Launches In US & Japan

According to the head of Honda Motor Co, the automobile major has plans for rolling out Honda electric cars in Europe, Japan as well as the United States. This is an indication of the change in strategy adopted by the Japan's No. 2 automobile manufacturer, while it gears up for the launch of next gen fuel-efficient automobiles.

Honda had earlier scrapped the idea of plug-in electric cars saying that such cars were fit for short-range use, when the costs of batteries are considered. Honda had been projecting hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as the best zero-emission alternative to current gen combustion engine automobiles.

But the automobile major, in a recent statement, had mentioned that the setting up of hydrogen fuelling stations is so slow that it can restrict the sale of automobiles using hydrogen as fuel. It also mentioned that it will have to launch ‘pure’ electric cars for meeting the stringent Californian regulations.

Chief Executive Takanobu Ito said that in addition to the US market, the automaker would consider electric cars for other markets including Europe and Japan.

He mentioned that Honda still believes in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles would be the final word in car technology, with electric cars being just a medium for achieving the target.

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