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Carlos Ghosn-led Nissan Motor Co is looking at manufacturing an all-electric budget small car in India – its cheapest globally – but has sought concessions from the government to support sales of the clean cars.
A price of around Rs 7 lakh – or upwards of $10,000 -- is being considered for the car – which is under study presently. This may perhaps make the car the cheapest private electric passenger vehicle in the country, less expensive than even Mahindra & Mahindra’s e2O mini car.
“If you want to sell electric cars with significant volumes in India, you have to make them there. We are considering this (local manufacturing) as part of a study,” Nicholas Thomas, Global Director for Nissan’s electric vehicles (EV), told TOI at a time when the company has showcased the new version of its Leaf electric car at the CES here.
The company is also looking at exporting the India-made electric cars and may sell it in other Asian countries to gain economies of scale and ride on India’s low-cost manufacturing processes.
Asked how soon can a decision be firmed up, Thomas said, “It depends on the Indian electric market, and how soon it develops.”
However, he said that the government needs to come up with credible solutions to support the growth of electric cars till they are in their infancy. “We’ve had many rounds of discussions with the Indian government on this issue. Though their target of having electric cars by 2030 is very clear, there is no clear roadmap on how to get there… We need more clarity.”
Thomas said that battery costs – while coming down over the last few years – are still to reach affordable levels. “It will take a few more years before the costs come down to levels where we can sell electric cars at prices which are lower than what we charge for the current petrol and diesel vehicles. Until that time, we need subsidies from the government to promote their sale and encourage mass adoption. Otherwise, the transition to the cleaner vehicles will take longer.”
The Leaf, which is one of the world’s most-successful electric car having sold over 3 lakh vehicles since 2010, is priced upwards of $30,000 (around Rs 19 lakh) in the US. Getting the car to India as a fully-built imported unit would mean paying additional cumulative duties of around 200%, making it completely unviable.
Nissan is doing the feasibility for the Leaf in India but does not intend to locally produce it. “It will be a niche category product.” Globally, the company has an intention to launch 12 electric vehicles by 2022.
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