Honda Plans Hybrid Route To India’s Budding Electric Car Market

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Honda Cars India, a subsidiary of the Japanese brand Honda, has reiterated that it shall go slow on the introduction of electric cars in the country until there is a clear roadmap from the policy front.

2014 Honda Accord goes Hybrid with over 500 miles rangeSpeaking to the Press Trust of India, Senior Vice President and Director of Honda Cars India Rajesh Goel said that until there is adequate charging infrastructure available in the country, Honda shall focus on hybrid cars.

The company is now expected to focus on bringing hybrid cars to India at least until 2024. The first hybrid car that Honda brings to India could be its most popular offering, the City. Indian business daily Mint quoted unnamed sources and reported that the next-generation City could be launched in the country in 2020, followed by a hybrid variant in 2021.

The Jazz is another model that Honda could look to launch in India with a hybrid option. Indian business daily Economic Times reported in late 2017 that Honda has developed an electric powertrain for its Jazz and midsize sedan Grace in Japan.

At present, the Accord is the only hybrid offering by Honda in India. That the model has failed to attract any buyers is an understatement. Honda has not sold a single Accord from January 2018 to April 2019. A possible reason for this could be the high price — the Accord sells for close to $62,000 after steep taxes, while its competitor, the Toyota Camry, is slightly cheaper at around $54,000 and clocked sales of 334 units in 2018. The Prius, on the other hand, retails at a bit more than $64,000 and has a similar sales record as the Accord.

Mild hybrids are currently the most popular segment in India of the entire hybrid/electric market. India’s largest carmaker — Maruti Suzuki — offers four mild hybrid models. The company calls the technology “Smart Hybrid” and uses regenerative braking technology in the offered models. Mahindra & Mahindra offers an SUV that uses the same regenerative braking technology.

As far as pure electric cars are concerned, India has taken nascent steps so far. Government agencies in capital city Delhi are believed to be using ~500 electric sedans. Honda has accurately observed that the essential infrastructure for electric vehicles is lacking in India. The country has just started working on its own standards for electric charging stations.

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