This week in Auto: PM Modi wants to develop India as a hub for EVs, Mahindra Marazzo makes its debut

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The week was centered around events happening in the national capital where a battery of who’s who of the global automotive companies converged. Starting with the annual seminar of automotive components and auto lobby body, the week culminated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a rare appearance at an automotive event.

Maruti Suzuki to start testing 50 EVs

Maruti Suzuki India’s largest car maker, will start road-testing 50 electric vehicles, a top official of parent Suzuki Motor Corporation said on Friday at the MOVE Global Mobility Summit in Delhi. Maruti Suzuki has committed to launch its first fully electric car in 2020 in India. The company has tied up with Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the world’s biggest car makers, for sharing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology.

Mercedes-Benz launches CA 200 Urban Sport at Rs 35.99 lakh

Mercedes-Benz has launched the CLA 200 Urban Sport and CLA 200d Urban Sport in the Indian market for the price of Rs 35.99 lakh and Rs 36.99 lakh (ex-showroom) respectively. The models feature a few changes to the exterior to gain that sporty look. The Urban Sport gets a new two-zone thermotroic automatic climate control and rear AC vents.

Govt to set up 10,000 CNG filling stations

Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and other car makers have welcomed the government’s plans to increase the number of CNG stations by seven times to 10,000 over the next 12 years. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said come 2030, at least 10,000 CNG filling stations will be operational throughout the country. Currently, only 1,424 stations cater to three million vehicles, including three-wheelers, taxis and commercial cars.

Mahindra launches Marazzo at Rs 9.99 lakh

Utility vehicle specialist Mahindra Mahindra launched the all-new Marazzo at an introductory price of Rs 9.99 lakh (ex-showroom). This seven-eight seater carrier will rival the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Tata Hexa. Marazzo comes in four variants with the topmost model priced at Rs 13.9 lakh.

Skoda appoints Zac Hollis, Royal Enfield gets Vimal Sumbly

Skoda Auto India announced the appointment of Zac Hollis as Director – Sales, Service and Marketing. Hollis is currently head of sales China region and will take charge from November 1, 2018. Meanwhile, former managing director of Triumph India Vimal Sumbly has joined Royal Enfield to head the Asia Pacific operations for the Delhi-based niche two-wheeler brand.

PM bats for making India a global hub for EVs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wants to see investments in electric vehicle manufacturing and supporting infrastructure such as battery making and charging stations to develop India as an electric vehicle hub. Speaking at the inaugural MOVE Global Mobility Summit that laid emphasis on electric transportation, PM Modi said he wants to drive investments in battery, smart charging and electric vehicle manufacturing.

The attendance of Modi at the event was significant because it helped deliver a strong message to the global automotive community at large. With the recent flip-flops in automotive and more so regarding the electric vehicle policy, companies around the world grew increasingly skeptical of committing investments in the country. Companies such as Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen had halted new investments while General Motors shut down domestic sales business all together.

The MOVE Global Mobility Summit India was attended by heads of companies such as Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Bosch, ABB, Mahindra, Ford, Tata Motors to name a few. These companies were anxious to know about India’s stand on electric vehicle; a subject that has gained significance across the globe.

While Modi did not announce any financial measures to boost sales of electric vehicles or give incentives to develop EV technology, as was widely expected, he did make it clear that the future of mobility would be on electric. ‘Clean kilometres’ became the highlight of the two-day event, which stressed on the need for green mobility against climate change.

India’s per capita car penetration remains the lowest in the world among developing nations. This paves the way for an early adoption of electric vehicles for mobility unlike saturated markets such as the United States and Europe where the transition to EVs will be done having a petrol or diesel-powered car in the immediate background.

While the issue of lack of infrastructure for charging will be looked into by the government, the onus of developing new EV technology and setting up of battery manufacturing factories rests with the automotive companies. Positively, some of the global car companies such as Suzuki, Toyota and Hyundai have come forward to commit investments.