Hyundai Motor India plans to invest about ₹4,000 crore for research and development over the next seven years as it looks to roll out six new electric vehicles in India by 2028.
“We will be investing ₹4,000 crore for R&D towards expansion of our Battery Electric Vehicle line-up to six vehicles for the Indian Market by 2028,” S.S. Kim, MD and CEO, Hyundai Motor India Ltd., told The Hindu , hinting that the first vehicle may be introduced as early as next year.
‘Preference for SUVs’
Asked about the segment in which the first EV product would be unveiled, Mr. Kim said market trends clearly indicated customers’ preference for SUVs in both electric vehicles and ICE vehicles, so “we are very seriously considering this for our product plan and preparations”. However, he added that the six products would also include sedans and crossover utility vehicles, and would cater to mass market as well as mass premium segments in India.
Of the six products, three would be ‘unique’ products for India, while three would be global products that would be tweaked for the India market.
“Hyundai will also introduce its dedicated BEV Platform — E-GMP in India as well as modified platforms for battery electric vehicles in India,” Mr Kim said, adding that all the products would be produced locally in India. However, the extent to which the products can be localised will depend on the volumes.
“In India, the EV market is not very mature right now…for a few initial years we might need to import some parts and components… but we are working on localisation for those parts and components… we are also currently finding a competitive partner in some areas such as batteries,” Mr. Kim said.
He pointed out that while the company would try to narrow the price gap between ICE vehicles and EVs, government support in the form of subsidies and tax relief to private car buyers would spur demand for EVs.
“There will be some price gap between the normal ICE vehicle and EV; in many countries customers pay a small premium for the EV, but net ownership and maintenance cost for such vehicles is low. In markets like Europe and the U.S., there is a reasonable price difference and we hope that the situation is there in India too and as an OEM we will do our best to narrow the gap,” he said.
He added that India could become a global production hub for EVs but there was a need to develop a strong local supplier base for that. “From Hyundai’s perspective, our India-made vehicles are really well received by customers globally. They think highly of quality and vehicle performance…That advantage, competitiveness we should maintain for EVs as well…local suppliers will determine the future of the OEMs as well,” he said.
“Our export business is based on very strong support from our tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers…for us to have a global production hub for EV in India, we should have some strong supplier.
“I think that task can be achieved if we have strong support from the government, because you know the supplier base cannot be made overnight. There needs to be investments in R&D and training,” the Hyundai India chief added.
He further said that the company was having ‘continuous discussions’ with global battery makers, including Korean firms, but the main hurdle for players to set up a a production base in India is scale. “For them to have a production base here, they need some minimum volume and commitment from OEMs… But at the same time, we are looking at if we can partner with local chemical and technology companies”.
Asked about a recent statement by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari that OEMs could offer new car buyers benefits of up to ₹1.5 lakh for scrapping old cars, Mr. Kim said while the manufacturers are encouraged by the scrappage policy, in small cars and EVs the margin ratio is low. “In some cases, we lose money to be honest. So it is not that simple, but we will come up with some solution. SIAM has been in continuous dialogue with the government and industry might have some reasonable solution soon,” he said.
The company expects to close 2021 with a growth rate of 19-20% over 2020 when it sold more than 4.22 lakh vehicles. “The demand is still strong… We are sitting on close to 1,00,000 customer bookings, a lot of them are for Creta. But we are doing our best to bring the waiting period down,” Tarun Garg, director (Sales, Marketing and Service), added.