Hyundai exploring options to manufacture electric vehicles in India

The country’s second-biggest carmaker, Hyundai, showcased its India-centric electric sedan concept car Ionic at the Auto Expo 2018, held in Greater Noida in February this year. Now, the South Korean automobile giant is reportedly planning to bring an electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) and sedan to India, according to a news report in the Economic Times.

In March, ET, the company is now mulling bringing a whole portfolio of electric cars to India, in addition to the Kona EV SUV, which scheduled for launch in the second half of next year.

At the Auto Expo 2018, Y K Koo, managing director and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor India, had told Business Standard: “We want to test the readiness of the market. When the market matures, later on, we will start local manufacturing of this EV”.

Now, according to news reports, Hyundai has commissioned a study to explore manufacturing of such vehicles in India. The company is currently studying various aspects of battery manufacturing and sourcing parts from the local market.

The announcement came soon after India’s leading automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki said it was planning to manufacture electric vehicles domestically by 2020. Though there is no clear policy direction for electric vehicles in India and the goods and services tax (GST) rate on hybrid vehicles is debatable, the decision by Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai to bring their full range of electric vehicles in the country sets the tone for other car manufacturers, too.

Hyundai India produced 678,221 vehicles in 2017 calendar year, of which 527,320 units were sold in the domestic market. Koo said to Business Standard that the company aimed to produce 713,000 vehicles in 2018 through improvement in efficiencies when it would also hit a capacity utilisation of 99 per cent at its Chennai plant.

“We will still have an option to take the total production further to 763,000 vehicles during 2019 without any expansion,” he said.

Hyundai, which is the second-biggest exporter of cars from India, said the trend in many Asian markets was shifting towards import of CKD cars instead of completely built units (CBUs), owing to tax structures. Accordingly, thousands of cars that currently go as CBUs will be going in the form of CKD units, allowing Hyundai to have a leeway to expand production.

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