Charged opulence
THE WEEK|September 26, 2021
Luxury carmakers are betting big on electric vehicles in India
NACHIKET KELKAR

Mercedes-Benz EQC

Range: 450km

Price: 1.06 crore

THE E-TRON IS ONE HECK of a ride, even for an Audi. The sports utility vehicle is quick, sporty and luxurious. It can race from zero to 100kmph in just 6.8 seconds. And, it is loaded with all the bells and whistles you would expect in an Audi.

The e-tron, launched in July, is the German carmaker’s first electric vehicle in India, and it joined an impressive fleet of EVs that luxury carmakers are showcasing in the country. The first luxury EV to come to India was from Mercedes-Benz— the EQC electric SUV, last October. In March, Jaguar Land Rover launched the Jaguar I-Pace SUV.

Mercedes, the runaway leader in the Indian luxury car market, said on September 9 that it was expanding the retail sales of the EQC from the six metros to 50 cities. The first batch of EQCs allotted to India sold out; Mercedes is accepting bookings for the next batch.

Mercedes unveiled the EQS luxury electric sedan earlier this year. A derivative of its top-of-the-line S-Class, the EQS is likely to make its way to India next year. “The EQS sets a new benchmark in the luxury EV segment globally. It is surely a strong potential product for the Indian market,” said Martin Schwenk, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.

These may be baby steps for the luxury carmakers in the EV market, but they seem to be ahead of the mass-market players. India’s largest carmaker Maruti-Suzuki, for instance, is yet to launch an EV. It has been testing an electric Wagon-R. Mahindra has been working on many models, but has managed only one on the road (the eVerito). Hyundai has one model (the Kona), Tata Motors has two (the popular Nexon EV and the recently launched Tigor EV) and MG has one (the ZS EV). And, that is it.

On the other hand, luxury carmakers are rapidly scaling up and setting definite targets to become all-electric. Mercedes, for instance, has announced it would go all-electric by 2030, where market conditions allow. It plans to launch only EV architectures from 2025 and there will be an electric variant available for all its passenger vehicles. “The tipping point is getting closer,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz.

In India, EVs account for a small share of the passenger vehicles market. In the last financial year, 4,588 electric four-wheelers were sold; it was just about 3,000 a year earlier. In contrast, the overall passenger vehicle sales last year was 27.11 lakh units.

Jaguar I-Pace

Range: 470km

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