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Hybrids: The future of Indian cars?

Any automotive exhibition around the world is always littered with concepts of futuristic cars on display and the ongoing Delhi Auto Expo is no different. The biggest question that is always asked and seldom answered is what will power our cars in times to come? Sumant Banerji reports.

autos Updated: Jan 07, 2012 02:00 IST
Sumant Banerji

Any automotive exhibition around the world is always littered with concepts of futuristic cars on display and the ongoing Delhi Auto Expo is no different. The biggest question that is always asked and seldom answered is what will power our cars in times to come?

Will electricity be the fuel for future, or will it still be conventional fuels such as petrol, diesel and a dash of CNG and LPG? Or will hybrids continue to offer the most practical solution?

"Hybrids are too early for India," said Arvind Saxena, director, marketing and sales, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. "Neither is there the infrastructure to support hybrids nor is there a concrete government policy to subsidise it."

Hybrids like Toyota Prius has found limited success in India and all electric cars such as Reva have been non-starters. But there are some innovative middle of the road applications on display that can provide the answer.

For example IT services firm KPIT Cummins has developed Revolo - a hybrid kit that can be plonked on to any car for just Rs 70,000. The resultant benefit of 25% fuel saving would mean a breakeven in 3 years. A similar 35% reduction in carbon emissions is a bonus.

"No consumer in India would pay an extraordinary amount for environment friendliness," said Ravi Pandit, chairman and group CEO, KPIT Cummins. "A solution like the Revolo addresses the question of lower cost. It can be adapted in any car, howsoever old."

According to estimates, around 50% of the car market worldwide would be accounted for by hybrids while another 15-20% would be pure electric. Conventional petrol and diesel cars would be restricted to just 35% by 2030.

With 15 patents riding on it, and the possibility of some car makers suchas Maruti using it in their existing line-up, concepts like this may kickstart hybridisation of the Indian car market.