Luxury car makers charge up range with new evolved EVs


Luxury car makers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo are stepping up electric vehicle (EV) launches in the next few months.

These cars, costing from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 2 crore, are seen as cutting-edge flagships of the auto industry and will have a range of 250-500 km on a single charge.

The high-end car makers are also eyeing local manufacture to keep prices competitive and to churn out higher volumes.

“The customer base for premium vehicles has evolved tremendously in the last decade. People are conscious of the environment and want to make an active contribution in reducing carbon footprint,” said Vikram Pawah, president and chief executive, BMW Group India.

The company launched a plug-in hybrid sports car, BMW i8, in 2015.


“We have launched three pure electric products in less than 180 days,” Pawah said. While the BMW iX is an electric sports activity vehicle, the Mini SE is an electric hatchback and the BMW i4 is an electric sedan.

“With this, BMW has an extensive electric product range in the country,” he said, adding that it would take the contribution of electric cars to 10% of its overall sales.

More EV Contribution to Sales
As of now, BMW iX, Mini SE and i4 are available in the country as completely built-up units. BMW follows a ‘production follows the market’ approach, and local production is driven by volumes, Pawah added.

Mercedes, which pioneered the luxury EV space in India in 2020 with the launch of EQC, is gearing up to launch the much-awaited EQS luxury EV with a range of 720 km on a single charge.

“We will also be the first luxury car maker in India to locally manufacture this luxury EV when we roll out the EQS from Pune,” said Santosh Iyer, vice-president, sales and marketing, Mercedes-Benz India. This will mean a double-digit contribution in sales volumes from EVs by 2025, buoyed by an expanding luxury EV portfolio from this year, he said.

Global electric car sales totalled 4.2 million units in 2021, up 108% from 2020, and 198% from 2019.

“The demand continues to soar thanks to the boost from the Chinese market, Tesla and Volkswagen Group. The success of Tesla and the pressure to protect the environment has persuaded many legacy carmakers to announce fleet electrification plans,” said Ravi Bhatia, president of Jato Dynamics, a global supplier of automotive business intelligence.

Single Charge Range
Range anxiety — or the fear that the vehicle has insufficient charge to reach the intended destination — is limited for such higher-end EVs. In addition, fast chargers are being installed at all dealerships where owners of all brands are encouraged to quickly charge their EVs.

BMW provides a complimentary wall-box charger along with installation, while Mercedes gives two free wall-box chargers at the time of sale, which can be fixed at the owner’s home and the office. The 205 kw DC charges the vehicle 10-80% in 31 minutes, while the 50 kw DC charges 10-80 % in 83 minutes. These are available at the dealerships.

Mass-market players like Hyundai and Kia have also lined up EVs at higher price points and a longer range.

On Friday, Kia launched its EV6 at a starting price of Rs 59.95 lakh and going up to Rs 64.95 lakh. The South Korean car maker is also looking at local manufacturing of EVs in the next three years and launch more EVs in the coming years.

Electric passenger vehicle sales are set to double this year from 14,880 units in the 2021 calendar year. In the first four months of this year (January-April) sales of electric passenger vehicles stood at 12,311 units, according to Jato Dynamics.

Charging infrastructure and taxation benefits are driving faster adoption and market development, experts said.


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