When will Hybrid cars come to India?

The advent of Hybrid Cars in India.

Sanya Sapra gives us an overview of the advent of Hybrid cars in India.
Click here to read Sanya’s Profile….

In June 2008 India saw its first hybrid car-A Honda Civic with a price tag of Rs. 21.5 lakhs. A petrol-run civic cost Rs.13 lakhs. Due to the skeptical response towards the hybrid Civic in the Indian market, the automotive industry experienced the biggest discounts of all times. The cost of the Hybrid Civic was reduced to around Rs.13.36 lakhs. It was then possible to sell out all units that had been imported to the country. As if now, Honda Civic Hybrid will be available only as a direct import through the company with a long waiting period.

Some other hybrid car options that will be available in the Indian market are Mahindra Scorpio Hybrid ,Toyota Prius, Tata Nano Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Civic Hybrid.

Now talking about Mahindra Scorpio Hybrid, it will be launched in India by 2015 and the expected cost is Rs.12 lakhs. Currently Scorpio petrol costs around Rs. 8 lakhs. The world acclaimed Toyota Prius costs about Rs. 28 lakhs to 30 lakhs in India. Chevrolet Volt is costing approximately Rs. 35 lakhs.

Before discussing the results of the research, I would first like to discuss some more facts about hybrid cars. In the hybrid car, the electrical energy is used while starting up of the car and during its low speed ranges. Since at ignition and in lower speeds the fuel consumption is higher and further electrical energy helps to keep a check on the harmful emissions. Later gasoline engine will take up the transmission, when the speed goes up since, it is essential to attribute the pace for the drive. When the traffic stops and at steep slopes the electrical energy will be again activated, which will help to reduce the gasoline consumption. During braking the kinetic energy of the vehicle is converted to heat energy. This energy is re-channeled for the electrical battery charging which is known as regenerative braking. Thus separate energy for battery charging is not required. It combines the benefits of both internal combustion engine and electrical motor.

The success of the conventional internal combustion engine has now become its shortcoming. The prolonged use of internal combustion engine is causing the depletion of fossil fuels which is the source of energy for IC engine and its emissions are responsible for the degrading environmental conditions. Electric motor is an intelligent substitute for IC engines but the only drawback is the headache of charging the batteries. This is where the hybrid cars have an upper hand over both the types of engine.

In comparison to the IC engine the fuel efficiency of a hybrid car is higher and the emissions are reduced. Hybrid cars reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. Unlike electric vehicle it does not even require charging. Since hybrid cars use both battery power as well as the IC engine for running the vehicle, the petrol engine needs to run less and therefore consumes less fuel. As a result, most hybrid cars give you fuel economies that are at least 15%-30% higher than conventional vehicles. Your fuel economy with a hybrid will be greatly influenced by driving conditions. You will get higher mileage in city driving in comparison to the highway driving.

The government is promoting the use of hybrid cars. In the 2012-13 budget , the government has announced to set up a National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles to encourage the manufacturing and selling of eco friendly vehicles. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has announced a subsidy of upto Rs.1 lakh on the ex-factory price of electric and hybrid cars produced in India. The government has also eliminated import fees on hybrid parts, while proposing to cut excise duty on the development and manufacturing of hybrid vehicle kits to 5 per cent from 10 per cent earlier.

Despite all the government efforts and the many advantages of the hybrid cars, the sales in India are not very impressive. This is due to the fact that the initial cost of the hybrid cars is not affordable by the masses. On further calculations it is observed that the huge difference in the initial cost of the hybrid car and the petrol variant of the same car cannot be recovered easily.
Consider this case, Honda Civic Hybrid was bought for the introductory price of Rs.21.5 lakhs. This was 8.5 lakhs more than the petrol variant of Civic. Assuming that the mileage from Civic Hybrid is 20 kmpl and that of a Civic petrol is 15 kmpl. In the current scenario of rising petrol prices, assuming that the monthly expenditure on petrol for a working executive is Rs.10 000 The same distance traveled by the Civic petrol in Rs. 10 000 will be traveled in Rs. 7500 by the Civic hybrid. This concludes that the monthly saving by the Civic Hybrid owner is Rs. 2500. In a year the owner will save Rs. 30,000. To recover his extra Rs. 8.5 lakhs it will take almost 28 years.
Hybrid cars are the need of the hour. Hybrid cars are what India needs today. But they will gain popularity only when their initial cost comes closer to their petrol variant.

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