This week in auto: Govt flip-flop on EVs leave manufacturers confused, new launches keeps Motown upbeat

The government’s complete U-turn over formation of a formal policy for adoption of electric mobility in the country has startled the automakers. Several manufacturers who had hastily started work on electric vehicles – cars, SUVs, mini trucks, buses, three wheeler – are requesting for a clear road map that will give them enough time for product and technology development with regards to electric vehicles. Here is the wrap of all the top automotive stories of the week.

Companies come to terms after EV jolt

Until December last year, top officials of the government, including Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, spoke in favour of a stated electric vehicle (EV) policy for the country. Niti Aayog, the government appointed think-tank, was tasked to frame the policy. Only last month, as per news reports, a mission director was to be appointed and Niti Aayog was to act as the co-ordinator for the policy.

Manufacturers say that future investments depend on the policy route taken by the government and such flip-flops will only add to the confusion. “Like us most companies were awaiting roll out of the policy which would have had addressed several concerns. Investments have to be made and business planning needs to be done. But now we are back to square one,” said a senior executive of a Mumbai-based firm.

Despite the flip-flop, at least two companies have decided to go ahead with investments. EV pioneer Mahindra & Mahindra said it will make an additional investment of over Rs 500 crore in Chakan for product development and capacity enhancement for products and components. Pune-based Kinetic Group and luxury brand Tonino Lamborghini signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for producing electric off-road and gold carts at Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.

New launches light up a dull week

British luxury car brand Rolls Royce, introduced the eighth generation Phantom in the country priced at Rs 9.5 crore. Extended wheelbase of the luxury saloon is priced at Rs 11.35 crore. The Phantom VIII is equipped with a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine that delivers 563hp and 900Nm of torque. It can reach 0-100km/hour in just 5.4 seconds.

India Kawasaki Motors introduced the retro modern roadster, Z900RS, in India at Rs 15.3 lakh. The bike is derived from the Z1 bike that was launched by Kawasaki in the 1970s. The bike is powered by a 948cc, four cylinder engine, delivering peak power of 111ps and will be imported to India from Japan. Bajaj Auto too added a new member to its family with the launch of the Avenger Street 180 priced at Rs 83,475. This new bike will replace the Street 150 that was launched by the company some months ago.

Honda India gets a new head

Honda Cars India has made yet another change to its top deck which is the fourth of its kind in just six years. Gaku Nakanishi will take over as the president and CEO of Honda Cars India from Yoichiro Ueno from April 1. Ueno had taken charge only two years ago. Before him was Katsushi Inoue who was at the helm for only one year. While Honda has not provided any detailed reason behind the abrupt exit (the statement said that the exit was a result of management changes done by Honda globally) market watchers point out to Honda’s lacklustre performance as the main reason. Honda has slipped in ranking in the passenger vehicle space, beaten by a surging Tata Motors. Its flagship product City has ceded its position as the best-selling mid-size sedan to Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and later to Hyundai Verna.

Skoda to raise prices, BMW Motorrad cuts prices

Czech car brand Skoda Auto will raise prices of its entire model range by up to Rs 35,000 from March 1 to pass on the impact of custom duty announced in the Union Budget. Prices will rise by a percent which translates to an increase of Rs 10,000-Rs 35,000. Thereafter, prices will continue to rise until the overall rise reaches 3-4 percent. The company has decided to introduce a phase-wise increase to lower the impact on the customers.

Meanwhile, luxury automobile brand BMW Motorrad cut prices by up to Rs 1.6 lakh, which translates to a cut of up to 10 percent. The price cut is a result of slashing of customs duties by the government in the range of 15 percent to 25 percent. BMW Motorrad, which sells as many as 15 models, imports all of its bikes in India.