India struggles to go electric

Indian car manufacturer Mahindra launched its all-electric car this week, the e2o.

Marketing the car to drivers tired of stressful drives on Indian’s bustling roads, the electric vehicle is extremely low on maintenance and eco-friendly, giving out no air pollution at all.

The economy drive

Costing just Rs 0.50 per kilometre and delivering 100kms to a full charge from a simple 15A power socket, you would assume such a vehicle would have mass appeal in a country where fuel prices are soaring and train rides are anything but comfortable.

Not so.

India is vast country and whilst the e2o is very economical, the car isn’t capable of supporting lengthy drives due to its limited range and top speed being just 80km/hr, falling well short of any petrol or diesel powered car. Likewise the country’s transport infrastructure doesn’t support the car at petrol stations in emergencies.

Lack of enthusiasm

However probably the biggest reason why consumers are unlikely to be rushing to the car forecourts to purchase an e2o is probably due to its price. More expensive than India’s highest selling premium hatchback, the Maruti Swift and double the cost of the Maruti Alto800, many feel the heavy initial outlay isn’t necessarily justified long-term.

Whilst the vehicle is unlikely to need much maintenance, were the lithium ion battery powering the car to encounter problems, replacing it would be expensive, with the battery not yet locally made.

As we’ve seen in other parts of the world too, the cost of car insurance for electric vehicles can vary, and doesn’t always end up cheaper than for standard petrol vehicles. Also, unlike in certain Western countries where buyers of electric cars receive government subsidies, this isn’t yet the case in India.

With bigger car manufacturers such as General Motors and Nissan having previously shelved plans to release all-electric vehicles in India due to lack of interest, it remains to be seen whether the electric car can establish itself as a mainstay on Indian roads in the near future.

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