Hybrid Vehicles Offer a Way Out for Consumers Reeling Under Fuel Shock
Demand for hybrid automobiles on the rise as awareness about pollution grows
New Delhi: Hybrids are the flavour of the season.
With fossil fuels gaining villain status in the battle against pollution, demand for hybrid automobiles — which carry a non-conventional propulsion system, such as an electric motor, in addition to the engine that runs on conventional fuel — is on the rise in India. Recent developments such as the Supreme Court-imposed ban on the registration of large diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region and the odd-even vehicle rationing in Delhi are also contributing factors, said industry executives. Sales of Toyota Motor’s Camry Hybrid rose more than 50% in the NCR in the past three months, said a senior company executive. Maruti Suzuki has witnessed a significant jump in demand for its mid-size sedan Ciaz and the Ertiga multi utility vehicle offering micro-hybrid technology to conserve energy. There are more in the offing this year. The new Toyota Prius is expected to hit the road in India in mid-2016, while Honda Motor is set to bring its Accord Hybrid towards the festival season. Hyundai Motor and Volkswagen had displayed hybrid versions of the Sonata and Passat sedans at the February Auto Expo. Hyundai, however, said that the India launch of the Sonata hybrid may not happen immediately.
“Awareness is increasing,” said N Raja, director of sales and marketing at Toyota Kirloskar Motor, the local unit of the Japanese automobile giant. “Since the SC verdict banning larger diesel vehicles, we are selling 65-70 units of Camry hybrid in the NCR compared to 40-45 units earlier. These vehicles can also ply on both odd and even days, which is an added benefit.”
Hybrid, electric and CNG vehicles are exempt from Delhi’s odd-even rule that restricts vehicles on the road based on registration numbers.
Toyota Kirloskar sold more than 1,000 units of the Camry in 2015, and over 90% of those were of the hybrid version. "Affordability and value-for-money equation is critical. While interest is there, costing is a challenge in India,” Raja said. “Strong hybrids come at a price, almost double that of a regular version of a sedan. Imports raise prices further. We are the only manufacturer localising.”
While steep price is a deterrent for many to buy hybrids, the government on its part has started doing its bit. It announced incentives on the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles under the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India) scheme. It offers a subsidy of .₹ 13,000 on eco-friendly vehicles like hybrids. In addition, customers get benefit from about 50% reduction in excise duty. The total incentive on the Camry hybrid stands at around .₹ 70,000.
Hybrid vehicles have also been exempt from the infrastructure cess of 1-4% announced in the fiscal 2016-17 budget. “With the government’s focus to popularise hybrid and electric vehicles, and increased awareness among customers, we feel that hybrid cars will have better acceptance in the market now,” said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president for marketing and sales at Honda Cars India. The company is getting ready to launch the Honda Accord Hybrid in India this year.
Maruti, which introduced what the company calls smart hybrid technology in Ciaz and Ertiga last year, said it sold more than 47,500 units of these mild hybrids in the past six to seven months.
Hybrid, electric & CNG vehicles are exempt from Delhi’s odd-even rule that restricts vehicles on the road based on registration numbers