French vehicle manufacturer Groupe Renault will launch its first electric vehicle in India by 2022, provided the segment gets significant support from policy makers, said a senior executive of the company.
However, the company’s first electric vehicle will focus on the affordable or mass market segment, unlike the top-down approach adopted by some other manufacturers.
The Centre has been urging automobile manufactures to start developing electric vehicles for the Indian market to bring down the alarming levels of pollution in major cities, besides reducing its dependence on fossil fuels and crude oil imports.
The government has also sanctioned ₹10,000 crore for the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid vehicles (FAME) scheme, which subsidises the cost of developing electric vehicles and related ecosystem, such as lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants and charging stations.
The company will launch an electric vehicle (in India) for the mass market segment, said Venkatram Mamillapalle, country chief executive officer and managing director, Renault India.
Renault will not focus on high-end electric vehicles and is working with government agencies and private companies to set up an ecosystem for affordable vehicles.
“The work has started to be very frank and, in 2022, we will come out with an EV, based on how the policy makers move. There is a huge team in Paris that is engaging and helping us develop the ecosystem. Focus is more on the ecosystem rather than bringing an EV car and selling it in India. Probably, I will compete like hell (on the cost) on electric vehicles in India, more than anybody else," Mamillapalle said in an interview.
In July, South Korean vehicle manufacturer Hyundai Motor India Ltd launched its first electric vehicle, Kona, which is based on a mid-size sports utility vehicle.
China’s SAIC-owned MG Motor has also adopted the same strategy and will launch its first electric vehicle, e-ZS, based on a premium midsize SUV.
Last year, at the Paris Motor Show, Renault showcased its first entry-level electric hatchback, which shares the same platform as the Kwid and will be tested and launched in China.
The vehicle is also expected to make its way to the Indian market.
“We will also bring ‘halo’ or high-end products in the EV segment to showcase that we are also capable in electric vehicles and are pioneers. None of them in the market today are pioneers and we want to first make sure that customers can drive it as comfortably as the internal combustion engine," said Mamillapalle.
To stage a turnaround in the local market, Renault will launch one product every year in India till 2022, as the management expects to double its market share.
Emboldened by the success of Kwid (an entry level hatchback) and Duster (a midsize SUV), the company will also focus on the mass market, or sub-four metre segment, for its internal combustion engine-driven cars.
In the last two months, Renault launched its first sub-four metre sport utility vehicle, Triber, along with a refreshed variant of Kwid, to engineer a recovery in sales in India.
“We will be in the mass market. Though we will bring ‘halo’ products, we won’t bet volumes on that. My bet is only on the volume segment, which is the sub-four metre," said Mamillapalle.