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Role of public charging less vital than originally thought: EV experts

The lack of a robust public charging infrastructure is often cited as one of the biggest pet peeves for electric vehicle adoption. While the necessity of such a network can’t be ruled out, usage trends of early EV adopters do show that their reliance on public charging is less than what was initially expected. “Our data shows that 90-95 percent of the charging happens at home, which is intuitive,” said Nilay Chandra, Director, Charging infrastructure, Ather Energy, at the EV Forum organised recently by our sister publication, Autocar Professional. As such, there could be a potential for greater penetration of EVs, even as the public charging infrastructure is built up slowly.

  • Most EV buyers charge their vehicles at home overnight
  • Public infrastructure needed as an assurance to quench range anxiety issues
  • Owners without dedicated parking spots can share chargers

Home charging is the dominant trend

Commenting further on the scooter landscape, the senior Ather executive said, “The average commuter does not do more than 70-80km a day.” To that end, using a home charger to top-up the battery overnight fulfils most of the customers’ requirements. “Hence, a lot of our energies go into making the home installation seamless,” he added.

Echoing similar sentiments from an electric carmaker’s perspective, Sandeep Bangia, Head, Electric Vehicles and Home Automation, Tata Power, mentioned, “Interestingly, there are not too many cars which end up going to a public charging station because they have a home charger of 3.5kW or 7.5kW capacity, which is perfect for their weekly commutes. If they charge once every week at home, they really don’t need to go for public charging.”

This could take care of most anxiety issues, related to charging, that prospective owners might have, and enable them to take the plunge for an EV. “Most cars in India today come with a (home) charger – it’s a bundled price. But as you go along, and that is the global trend, cars may not come bundled with a charger because you could buy that separately. That is where the equation will head to,” said Bangia.

Still, apprehensions about viable charging alternatives run high, and need to be addressed through better awareness, opined the MD & CEO of Mahindra Electric, Mahesh Babu. “The customer still questions where the public charging stations are, ignoring that there is enough charging available at homes, offices, and other places, like eateries or malls, with a simple 15A plug.”

While the high usage of home charging is encouraging, it could also indicate that EVs are generally city bound, and mostly purchased by people with reserved parking facilities. What does one do while travelling over long distances? And what about someone who can’t have a personal charging setup because of the lack of a dedicated parking spot at home?

Charging solution for owners without reserved parking

“There are a lot of apartments where people don’t have a designated slot, but they have a pooled area where cars are parked. So, that is a place where we can put up a shared charger,” said the Tata Power chief. He added, “We are putting up a digital platform or consumer application for such chargers which can be shared.”

The Ather charging infrastructure director doubled down on a similar solution. “Our understanding is that while apartments do not have dedicated parking spots, they have areas where two-wheelers are parked. The charging infrastructure which we are talking about is not very complicated because electrical lines are passing through all places. So it basically boils down to a shared model.”

Public charging facilities to serve as an assurance

Speaking on the role of public charging facilities, Tata Power’s Sandeep Bangia mentioned, “It’s only when you cover a long distance, that you need a (public) 50kW DC fast charger.” Elaborating further, Ather’s Nilay Chandra said, “A person, for 90-95 percent of his journeys, does about 40km.” However, for that occasional journey where he expects longer running, he should be able to drive into a charging station for a quick top-up. “The consumer needs an infrastructure in a public environment as a safety or insurance,” said the two-wheeler expert. He added, “An infrastructure gives confidence to the consumer that he won’t get stranded on the road.”

Moreover, while home charging solutions are relatively inexpensive, commercial-scale DC fast charging stations can easily cost to the tune of Rs 15-20 lakh to set-up, or even more. Despite the high cost and low utilisation, EV makers are still trying to expand the public network. Tata, for instance, has set up about 375 such stations across the country, and plans to grow the numbers. Ather is adopting a similar strategy. “It still makes sense for us to keep investing. We are not looking at how much we are making out of the charging infrastructure business. For us, the entire game as an OEM is to reduce the barrier to adoption of electric vehicles,” said Chandra.

But what would be the optimal distribution of EV chargers to quench the issue of range anxiety among prospective buyers? “That depends on the penetration of electric vehicles, as and when it happens,” said Bangia. Commenting on electric four-wheelers, he added, “Most vehicles have a range of 250-odd kilometres, so it might be a good idea to have a fast charging station at a distance of every 50-75km.”

Also see:

FAME II scheme needs course correction: Hero Electric MD

Car, SUV sales up 23 percent in February 2021

Automakers in the passenger vehicle (PV) segment have reported good sales volumes for the month of February – the penultimate month of FY2021. Cumulative sales numbers of 14 PV makers for February 2021 add up to 3,08,611 units, which is crisp 23 percent year-on-year growth. However, compared to January 2021’s 3,03,534 units, the month-on-month growth is just 2 percent. Clearly, the industry is not out the woods yet and it will be a while before double-digit month-on-month growth becomes consistent.

  • Volkswagen, MG, Nissan and Tata post triple digit growth year-on-year
  • Tata sees highest monthly sales in 107 months
  • Ford, Skoda see sales decline month-on-month for February
  • Passenger Vehicle sales up 2 percent over January 2021

Here’s a look at February 2021’s sales numbers:

Maruti Suzuki India: 1,44,761 units / 8.3 percent

For the country’s largest carmaker, February sales were pegged at 1,44,761 units (February 2020: 1,33,702 / +8.3 percent), with the B-segment hatchbacks swinging back into demand.

Maruti Suzuki‘s six-car pack of Wagon R, Swift, Celerio, Ignis, Baleno and Dzire clocked 80,517 units in the month, registering a year-on-year (YoY) uptick of 15.3 percent (69,828). While the entry-level duo of the Alto and S-Presso were down 13 percent YoY with sales of 23,959 units (27,499), what continues to bring joy to Maruti Suzuki would be its performance in the UV segment.

The quintet of the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy, Ertiga, S-Cross, Vitara Brezza and XL-6 went home to 26,884 buyers, registering a YoY growth of 19 percent (22,604). The premium Ciaz sedan, however, continues to be slow and saw 1,510 buyers in the month, registering a decline of 40 percent (2,544).

Hyundai Motor India: 51,600 units / 29 percent

The arch-rival running up Maruti’s heels, Hyundai Motor India, clocked sales of 51,600 units last month, registering a robust YoY uptick of 29 percent (40,010). In Hyundai’s case too, the demand is led by the highly profitable Creta and Venue SUVs, followed by the new i20 premium hatchback, which is drawing buyers to its unique design, appealing features and plush cabin. As per the company, the bulk of the demand is coming for top variants that come loaded to the gills with latest digital technology and gizmos on board.

Tarun Garg, director, sales, marketing and service, HMIL said, “Hyundai Motor India has been consistently striving to drive a resurgence in sales, thereby contributing towards economic recovery and bringing the industry closer to pre-COVID-19 level sales. We have recorded growth across segments that reflects an all-around improvement in buyer sentiment.”

Tata Motors: 27,225 units / 119 percent

Homegrown Tata Motors, which has seen a scintillating fiscal year, owing to new model launches and demand for its 5-star safety-rated products like the Nexon and Altroz, also reported robust performance in February. The carmaker sold 27,225 units, registering a staggering 119 percent YoY growth (12,430). The numbers were also the company’s highest monthly figures in 107 months.

The company is bullish on growth from the UV segment, where its Nexon compact SUV is giving a tough fight to competitors such as the Maruti Vitara Brezza, Hyundai’s Venue and Kia’s Sonet. In the midsized segment, the Harrier and newly-launched Safari too aim at disrupting the category with their price-to-value equation on offer to customers.

Kia Motors India: 16,702 units / 7 percent

Korean carmaker from the Hyundai Group family, Kia Motors too has seen a remarkable stint in the Indian market so far. The company clocked sales of 16,702 units last month, registering an uptick of 7 percent (15,644). The performance is being driven by demand for its newest product – the Sonet compact crossover – as well as the Seltos SUV, which remains the mainstay.

Introduced in September last year, the Sonet, by October 2020, had already garnered over 50,000 bookings, with waiting times soaring as high as nine months in some cities. In the next fiscal, Kia Motors India will be gearing up to introduce an MPV, with an aim to rival the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga in terms of pricing, but the Toyota Innova Crysta, in terms of the product attributes.

Mahindra & Mahindra: 15,391 units / 43 percent

SUV maker Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) recorded sales of 15,391 units, thereby registering a YoY uptick of 43 percent (10,756). The company is currently overwhelmed with the demand for its second-generation Thar SUV, launched in October last year. On February 1, the new Thar’s cumulative booking number crossed 38,500 units, with up to 45 percent demand coming for automatic variants, and as much as 25 percent of all customers opting for the petrol powertrain.

M&M is also witnessing strong demand for its XUV300 compact SUV, which also saw inclusion of an AMT option in its 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol variant on February 2. As per the company, the XUV300 too has received over 6,000 bookings in the last six months with M&M prioritising its production along with the Thar’s to minimise delivery wait times.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor: 14,075 / 36 percent

The Japanese carmaker recorded its best-ever sales in FY2021 last month, with a total of 14,075 units sold as against 10,352 units in February 2020, and registering a considerable 36 percent YoY sales growth. Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s previous best in the ongoing fiscal was in October last year when it sold 12,373 units in the month.

The demand for the refreshed 2021 model year versions of the Innova Crysta, as well as the Fortuner and its sporty iteration – the Legender – are helping the numbers tick for the company. At the lower end too, the Glanza hatchback and Urban Cruiser compact crossover are playing their part in the volume growth.

Speaking on the brand’s performance, Naveen Soni, senior vice-president, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, said, “We started the year on a positive note and the trend continues as we close the second month of 2021, clocking a growth of 36 percent. Wholesales have been very encouraging and we are witnessing a high influx of customer orders month on month, thereby both significantly contributing to the growth story. In fact, sales in February have been better than sales in January, thus helping us register a 27 percent growth in wholesales.”

Renault India: 11,043 units / 26 percent

Renault India has reported a 26 percent uptick in sales numbers, with total volumes in February being pegged at 11,043 units (8,784). The company is gaining from its value-for-money products, which while appealing to the urban customer, are particularly alluring the rural buyer for their extremely cost-effective propositions. The Renault Kwid, Triber and the recently-introduced Renault Kiger are examples of the same trend where Renault India has innovated diligently to offer maximum value to customers.

Honda Cars India: 9,324 units / 28 percent

Japanese carmaker Honda Cars India went on to sell 9,324 units in February 2021, registering 28 percent sales uptick (7,269). Its mainstay Honda City sedan, alongside offerings like the Amaze and WR-V, are doing reasonable numbers in the market, and catering to customers at both ends of the spectrum. While the City is competing with more attractive UV propositions like the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta, the Amaze is seeing first-time and value-conscious buyers gravitate towards Honda showrooms.

According to Rajesh Goel, senior vice-president and director, marketing and sales, Honda Cars India, “The market demand continues to be good which is reflected in our positive growth in February sales. However, the shortage of semiconductor-related parts impacted us on supply front last month, which limited our production volume and dispatches for certain models. In the coming months, we will continue to make production adjustments in order to reduce its impact on our waiting customers.”

“As for the industry, we are optimistic about the future as the demand for automobiles remain on the rise and has brought in the much-needed stability and positivity,” added Goel added.

MG Motor India: 4,329 units / 215 percent

MG Motor India registered retail sales of 4,329 units last month, with the February volumes directing at a substantial 215 percent year-on-year growth, compared to 1,376 units in the corresponding month last year.

The company attributes this achievement to the pronounced response it is receiving for its MY2021 line-up which includes the refreshed Hector SUV family, updated MG ZS EV and the Gloster flagship SUV.

According to Rakesh Sidana, director – sales, MG Motor India, “The higher sales of 2021 product lines are very encouraging. We also expect the EV trend to accelerate with our charging infrastructure now available across more cities. The growth momentum is expected to continue in March, and we are working at the back-end to try and reduce the waiting period for our customers.”

Nissan Motor India: 4,244 / 313 percent

Another Japanese player, Nissan Motor India is currently witnessing a complete transformation of its India innings, with the introduction of the Nissan Magnite compact crossover in December 2020. The company clocked 4,244 units last month, registering a substantial 313 percent growth over 1,028 units sold in February 2020.

The major reason behind this business revival is the attractively-priced Magnite with which Nissan has been able to draw in close to 40,000 bookings in three months.

“Nissan Magnite, on the strength of revolutionary value proposition, has had an overwhelming customer response with 6,582 deliveries to the customers in its first two full months of launch, the in-flow of bookings is continuous of the discerning customers seeking a game-changer product in the highly competitive SUV segment.”

“The plant is operating at full capacity with three shifts with the support of supply chain partners to shorten the waiting period of the all-new Nissan Magnite,” said Rakesh Srivastava, managing director, Nissan Motor India.

Skoda Auto Volkswagen India

The two German brands under the Volkswagen Group umbrella performed quite differently in the month of February. On one hand, Volkswagen India recorded cumulative sales of 2,186 units, registering a remarkable YoY growth of 525 percent (35), on account of new models such as the Polo and Vento TSI, as well as premium products including the Tiguan AllSpace. Whereas, on the other, Skoda Auto slipped 32 percent YoY to only 853 units (1,259) in the month. However, the carmaker is gearing up to the launch of its India-specific, Hyundai Creta-rivalling midsized SUV – Skoda Kushaq – which is the first model in the VW Group’s India 2.0 revival strategy and will be unveiled on March 18.

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Growth outlook

The performance of carmakers in February is a clear indication that the economy is gradually springing back into action, what with people having high hopes of India’s mass vaccination drive against COVID-19. On the other hand, constraints of ongoing raw material shortage impacting supplies looms large, but industry experts are also hopeful that the situation would normalise around July.

From the looks of it, March 2021 sales should be good too, notwithstanding the fact that there is a global shortage of semiconductor supply in the automotive industry, and rising raw material prices are pushing new-car prices northwards. A number of PV makers companies, particularly those with popular SUVs, are witnessing unprecedented demand, especially for new models.

Aston Martin targets F1 top 3 with AMR21 racer

Aston Martin has taken the wraps off its first F1 car in over six decades, the AMR21. This season will see the team – formerly known as Racing Point and now operating as Aston Martin’s works outfit – pairing four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel with Lance Stroll.

Read on to find out more about the AMR21 and what Aston Martin’s targets are for the 2021 F1 season.

  • Aston Martin AMR21 sports British racing green livery
  • Vettel and Stroll will race for the team
  • F1 tech will be used to develop Aston Martin’s future mid-engined sportscars

Aston Martin AMR21 F1 racer

The new AMR21 carries Aston Martin’s traditional racing colours, sporting a British racing green livery. Hints of pink yet remain, with a magenta stripe running down the side in reference to the team’s partner BWT. American IT giant Cognizant comes on board as the team’s new title partner. As for the power unit, the team will continue using Mercedes power.

Racing Point finished last year’s championship in 4th place, losing out to McLaren after running into reliability issues towards the end of the season. Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer wants to further improve on that and is targeting a top three result. Speaking during a media session, he outlined the team’s goals for 2021: “We want to have multiple podiums in 2021.Our aggressive targets are to be best of the rest.”

“We lost out to McLaren late last year; we had a couple of late engine failures which cost us third place in the championship. We want to make good on the performance of the car. So our objectives are that we’re the third fastest car on the grid.”

“And actually, with the third fastest car like we were last year, [we have to] use that and become more consistent to score more points and beat the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Renault again,” he added.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 cars have largely been carried over into this season. However, a number of changes have been made to the aerodynamic rules to keep downforce in check. Szafnauer believes this year’s order will largely be determined by which teams do the best job of adapting to these changes: “The teams that are going to do the best are those who claw back most of the downforce over the winter.”

AMR21 should be better suited to Vettel’s driving style

Sebastian Vettel moves to Aston Martin this year, hoping to revive his career after a difficult few years with Ferrari. While testing yet has to get underway, Szafnauer says having a multiple-time world champion on board is already making a difference.

“We have one focus and that’s doing the best that we can on track. And Sebastian is very much the same. He’s very similar in attitude, in work ethic, in leaving no stone unturned and looking at every little detail to make sure that all the details are in place for us to go faster on track,” he says.

“He asks a lot of questions – good questions. He makes us think about the processes we have in place, how we go about our work and every day, can you improve, can you do something different, that’s a bit better? So he brings that to the team from a driver’s perspective.”

In the past, Vettel has shown that he really thrives when the rear-end of his car is firmly planted. And Szafnauer believes the AMR21 will be much better suited to the German’s driving style: “I think our car over the last few years has come along significantly in that area and I think we definitely have a stable rear-end for him.”

As part of the rules, teams can only make limited changes to their cars under a token system. Benefitting from a loophole in this, outfits like Aston Martin, who used 2019 non-listed parts supplied by another team, can switch to the 2020-spec parts without spending any tokens. This means Aston Martin can upgrade to the 2020 Mercedes rear suspension, which was significantly redesigned last year to improve airflow.

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F1 tech to help develop future Aston Martin models

The AMR21 is Aston Martin’s first works F1 car since Maurice Trintignant’s DBR5 crossed the finish line at Silverstone in 1960. When asked about why the brand has decided to focus its motorsport efforts on F1 instead of other series like the World Endurance Championship’s new Le Mans Hypercar class, Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer Mareck Reichman had one simply answer: “I think we have to be at the pinnacle of motorsport.”

“We’re there because we believe it’s the right place for our brand to be and it’s the right platform in terms of our future product strategy, the mid-engine programme” he adds.

With Aston Martin shifting its focus to the mid-engine segment, the F1 team will act as an innovation lab for the brand’s future road car technologies. These will include a range of mid-engined sportscars, inspired by the Valkyrie, which will become central to the product portfolio through the next decade.

Rechman adds: “F1 in terms of that [the car’s] particular layout is exactly what a mid-engine car is. The whole point is that we are there, being represented every weekend with a car which is a derivative of that particular layout,”

“It’s a platform that’s viewed by fans, people who enjoy the competitive nature of motorsport, but most importantly technology, because it’s the pinnacle of technology. And we will transfer some of that technology in percentages down into our road cars as well. If you are able to see a Valkyrie soon, you will see those direct relationships with the F1 car and that will filter down into the Valhalla and then into the Vanquish.”

2021 F1 season

The team’s journey makes for an incredible story. It wasn’t too long ago that the Vijay Mallya-owned Force India was on the brink of bankruptcy, before a consortium led by Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll (father of Lance Stroll) took over ownership of the team.

Force India was always known for being proficient, often battling it out with teams running on a far greater budget. And Racing Point continued that trend. Their 2020 F1 challenger, the RP20 (dubbed the ‘Pink Mercedes’ for its striking resemblance to the 2019 Mercedes) may have divided opinion. But you have to give credit where it’s due – the fact that Racing Point were able to extract that sort of performance out of the RP20, beating out the likes of Ferrari, was impressive.

With the Aston Martin rebranding, the team finally has the sort of backing and finances it has been looking for. Combined with a world champion driver, they certainly have all the right ingredients, but only time will tell if they will emerge as a genuine F1 title contender in the future.

Pre-season testing gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12-14, two weeks before the season-opening Bahrain GP at the same venue on March 28. You can head here to check out the full revised calendar.

Also see:

Alpine reveals first F1 car since Renault rebranding

Mercedes gunning for record eighth F1 title with new W12 racer

Tata’s Pratap Bose among finalists for 2021 World Car Person of the Year

Pratap Bose – Vice-President, Global Design of Tata Motors – is among the top five finalists for the 2021 World Car Person of the Year award. The five names were announced today when 93 World Car Awards (WCA) jurors from 28 countries collectively voted for the finalists by secret ballot. KMPG tabulated the vote results.

  • Pratap Bose is among the five finalists that have been chosen by WCA jurors.
  • The Award requires significant contribution to the global auto sector over the past year.

To be eligible, award candidates must have made a significant contribution to the global automotive industry during the January 1 to December 31, 2020 period. That contribution could include a significant impact to their brand or company, for example, or a significant safety, engineering, design or technical advancement.

Pratap Bose (Tata Motors): background

Pratap Bose is Tata Motors’ Vice-President, Global Design. In this role, the Royal College of Art graduate brings an international perspective to the Indian carmaker as he now leads three design centres around the world: in India, Italy, and the UK. His multinational experience and truly global perspective are raising Tata’s design presence, both within and beyond India, and gaining recognition for its daring, forward-looking design strategy.

Speaking to Autocar India, Pratap Bose said, “This is a testament to the work of the Tata Motors Global Design team that I am fortunate to be a part of and represent. It shows that design from an Indian brand can be world-class in every respect. I hope I am able to, through this nomination inspire many more Indian designers to chase their dreams!”

In April 2018, Bose won the prestigious ‘Top Chief Design Officer’ award at the 2nd World Industrial Design Conference held in Hangzhou, China. The award recognised Bose for his role to use design as an enabler for volume and market share gain for Tata Motors, which is now very evident in the company’s speedy rise in the passenger vehicle market.

Having been part of Tata Motors for some time now, Pratap Bose has had a big influence on almost all the Tata models on sale today, starting with the Tiago hatchback and going all the way to the recently launched Safari, which uses Tata’s Impact 2.0 design language.

The other finalists

Among the other finalists is Luc Donckerwolke – Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group, who has been the driving design force behind the Genesis luxury brand and its sophisticated style, particularly the G80 and GV80.

Also from Hyundai Motor Group, Euisin Chung – Chairman and son of the founder of Hyundai – has led the rise of Hyundai-Kia into the ranks of the global top five automakers.

The only female finalist this year, Tomiko Takeuchi, is Mazda’s first-ever female chief engineer and program manager. She heads the production of the MX-30, which is Mazda’s first-ever fully electric vehicle. She is also Mazda’s first female development and evaluation test driver.

Lastly, Akio Toyoda, the President/CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, has spent years successfully remaking his company. Toyota was the world’s largest automaker by sales volume and still profitable in 2020, despite COVID-19, protecting jobs worldwide.

Previous World Car Person of the Year winners

Previous World Car Person of the Year recipients were Carlos Tavares, CEO of PSA Group (2020), the late Sergio Marchionne, CEO, FCA; Chairman, CNH Industrial; and Chairman and CEO, Ferrari (2019) and Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (2018).

Tata Cars

Volvo C40 Recharge electric SUV coupe revealed

The Volvo C40 Recharge is the carmaker’s second electric vehicle (EV) and it is an SUV-coupe version of the XC40 Recharge P8 electric SUV.

  • The Volvo C40 Recharge shares its CMA platform with the XC40 Recharge

  • Dual electric motor setup produces a combined 408hp and 660Nm

  • 78kWh battery pack is estimated to offer a range of 418km

Volvo C40 Recharge: design and platform

Built on the Swedish company’s CMA platform, the C40 is based on the electric version of the XC40, gaining a sloping roofline and a new tail-light design. The front features a progression of the XC40 P8’s closed-off grille, which is “a new face for electric Volvos”.

At 4,431mm long and 2,035mm wide, the C40 has the same exterior dimensions as the XC40, except it’s 690mm shorter, at 1582mm, due to the coupe roof. The sloping rear marginally reduces rear passenger head room by 62mm, although boot capacity is less impacted, at 413 litres. There is also a 31-litre under bonnet ‘frunk’.

While the sloping roof gives it a more hatchback-esque design, Volvo says the C40 Recharge still offers a raised seating position.

Volvo C40 Recharge: powertrain and performance

The C40 uses the same powertrain as its XC40 Recharge P8 and Polestar 2, with a 204hp electric motor mounted on each axle for a combined output of 408hp and 660Nm. This results in a claimed 0-100kph time of 4.9sec. And, as with all Volvo models now, its top speed is limited to 180kph.

Volvo C40 Recharge: battery and charging

A 78kWh lithium-ion battery offers an estimated range of 418km. It can be charged by a 11kW AC charger or a 150kW DC charger, with the latter allowing an 80 percent charge from empty in around 40 minutes. Volvo says that the machine’s range should improve over the car’s lifetime through planned over-the-air software updates.

Volvo C40 Recharge: interiors and features

The new SUV will be offered with a range of unique interior trim colours and lines and will be Volvo’s first completely leather-free model. It also features Volvo’s new Android-based touchscreen infotainment system, which was jointly developed with Google, and will be offered with unlimited data usage to enable over-the-air updates. That system, which was first used in the XC40 Recharge, offers a significant step forward over its previous infotainment system.

Volvo C40 Recharge: production

Due to go into production later this year with first deliveries in international markets slated for before 2022, the C40 has been launched in line with Volvo’s ambition for half of its global sales to be full EVs by 2025 and to be an EV-only firm by 2030.

The C40 will be produced alongside the XC40 at Volvo’s factory in Ghent, Belgium. It will be followed by an electric version of the next-generation XC90 seven-seater – tipped to arrive next year – and a smaller SUV built on a new platform, set to be named the XC20.

Volvo’s India plans

The Swedish carmaker is set to launch the all-electric XC40 Recharge in India in the coming months. Volvo has previously stated that it’s keen on assembling the electric XC40 in India, which could result in a relatively competitive price. From 2022, Volvo aims to have only petrol and battery electric models in India.

As things stand Volvo offers a total of five models in our market – the XC40, XC60, XC90 SUVs along with the S90 and recently launched S60 sedan.

Also see:

New Cars for 2021: EVs

Tata Nexon EV range issue explained

The Delhi government’s delisting of the Tata Nexon EV from its subsidy scheme for electric vehicles earlier this week raises more questions than answers. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted: “Delhi govt has decided to suspend subsidy on an EV car model, pending final report of a Committee due to complaints by multiple users of sub-standard range performance. We are committed to support EVs, but not at the cost of trust & confidence of citizens in claims by manufacturers.”

For those who come in late, here is the backstory. The delisting follows a consumer complaint over the vehicle’s failure to meet company’s specified 312km range on a single charge. Last month, the Delhi Transport Commission issued a show cause notice to Tata Motors. In its response released on Monday, the manufacturer has said that it stands by the Nexon EV’s claimed ARAI range, and will continue to engage constructively to protect the interests of its customers. “The Nexon EV is the only personal segment EV available in the market today that meets the stringent FAME norms. The range at single full charge (312km) for the Nexon EV is basis the certification received from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), which is the official body that independently tests all mass produced vehicles under standard/defined test conditions before they can be offered to customers,” its statement said.

“As with conventional vehicles (with IC engines), the actual range achieved in EVs is dependent on AC usage, individual driving style and the actual conditions in which the vehicle is driven. The range achievement is also a function of familiarity with the new technology, and customers report improvements upwards of 10 percent within 4-6 weeks of familiarity. We have been receiving several positive testimonials from our customers and are encouraged to see them exploring new places with the Nexon EV and sharing their experiences.”

Autocar India’s take

As with every vehicle, real-world mileage (range) will vary from the certified figure. Mileage will also differ widely from user to user and is heavily dependent on factors such as driving style, traffic, and even weather. For EVs, this variation is even more pronounced, as a battery’s depletion rate varies far more than an IC engine’s fuel consumption.

Temperature variations significantly impact a battery’s performance and, curiously, if you drive an EV on a highway, you’ll get a lower range than you would in the city. This is because on the highway, with the throttle constantly engaged, an EV will only be depleting its battery whereas in the city, it benefits from increased brake energy regeneration, thanks to having to slow down for traffic.

This is a key factor, as it must be noted that for EVs like the Nexon EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, and MG ZS EV that belong to category M1 (vehicles which can ferry up to eight passengers plus a driver and their luggage), ARAI limits the range testing to Part One (urban cycle) of the Modified Indian Driving Cycle.

Thus, a real-world figure with mixed usage will definitely show a big difference compared to the ARAI figure. This is not to say the ARAI figure or system is flawed. On the contrary, it represents a uniform testing procedure applied to all vehicles, thus enabling a fair and accurate comparison. However, it cannot be taken as an exact value that all users will achieve.

For instance, drive an EV up to a hill station and the constant load will rapidly deplete the battery. On a 280km drive from Mumbai up to Mahableshwar, we came perilously close to depleting the Mercedes-Benz EQC’s battery, this despite the certified 445km range. The return downhill journey, however, was a breeze, and we coasted home with extra kilometers to spare.

EVs and real range: How they performed in the Autocar India road test

Last year, we conducted a range test for the Nexon EV, Hyundai Kona, and the MG ZS EV according to our set Autocar India Road Test standards. The range test had the distance measured via GPS, drivers rotated, and all testing carried out at the same average speed. Our tests, too, showed a difference in the claimed range versus the real world figure for all EVs.

Nexon EV vs ZS EV vs Kona Electric: Range
ARAI 312km 340km 452km
Autocar Highway 201km 301km 236km
Autocar City 216km 353km 282km
Autocar Average 208km 317km 250km

The ZS EV’s performance on an Autocar India record hypermiling run last year also demonstrates just how much of an impact driving style, load, and other factors can have on an EV’s range. The ZS EV achieved 563km on a single charge, with no electrical load such as AC, stereo, headlights etc. Thus, in the Nexon EV’s case, too, it is expected to have a range difference in the real world.

ARAI’s testing procedures for electric vehicles

Before getting to the testing methodology, here are certain prerequisites – the ambient temperatures must range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius; tyre pressures should be as per what is prescribed by the manufacturer, and all other mechanical bits must conform to the manufacturer’s specifications and standards. And, finally, the electric vehicle’s battery has to be fully charged. During the tests, all electricals except those required to drive the car need to be switched off, including lights, indicators, and auxiliary devices like air-con and audio system, which isn’t the case in the real world where these surely contribute to some power consumption.

ARAI conducts the tests on a chassis dynamometer (a sophisticated rolling road used for vehicle testing and development) whose rolling resistance is set in accordance with the car’s ramp weight (maximum permissible weight).For example, if a car’s ramp weight is between 1,980- 2,100kg, then the rolling resistance will be equivalent of 2,040kg.

For electric vehicles belonging to the M1 category, ARAI limits the range testing to Part One (urban cycle) of the Modified Indian Driving Cycle. Each vehicle goes through 22 testing cycles spread over 195 seconds each. During each of these tests the vehicle is supposed to idle, accelerate and decelerate in a fixed pattern over a predetermined duration. The driver or tester is supposed to follow certain steps, including gradual pedal inputs, to avoid any sudden acceleration or deceleration which could skew the findings. The average speed maintained during the cycle is 19kph, with a maximum speed of 50kph. After 22 such cycles, the total distance covered by the vehicle is used to calculate its range.

To derive the total power consumption over the 22 cycles, the battery is put for charging within 30 minutes of the completion of the test. An energy measurement device, placed between the main socket and the vehicle charger, measures the charge delivered (watt-hours) to the car’s battery. In order to calculate the consumption (kWh per km), we divide the charge delivered to top up the battery (watt-hours) by the distance covered (km).

Consumption = Charge to top-up battery/Distance

To find out the maximum travel range from the final consumption figure, divide the battery size by consumption to establish a theoretical figure, which is what’s printed and advertised by the manufacturer as the vehicles’ range.

Range = Battery Size/Consumption

Taking the Kona’s example, certified range is 452km and battery size is 39.2kWh, so going by the above formula 452km = 39.2kWh/Consumption, hence consumption by reverse calculation would have been 0.086kWh per km (or 8.6kWh per 100km).

Clearly, the delisting of the Tata Nexon EV is unfortunate, as it has obtained its ARAI certification. ARAI certification is a mandatory and regulated process conducted by government- approved facilities and logically, queries should also be directed towards ARAI, the certifying agency. At a time when the country is trying to promote EVs, this whole affair will only prove to be a stumbling block and could have been handled in a more nuanced manner.

The truth behind the Tata Nexon EV range controversy

The Delhi government’s delisting of the Tata Nexon EV from its subsidy scheme for electric vehicles earlier this week raises more questions than answers. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted: “Delhi govt has decided to suspend subsidy on an EV car model, pending final report of a Committee due to complaints by multiple users of sub-standard range performance. We are committed to support EVs, but not at the cost of trust & confidence of citizens in claims by manufacturers.”

For those who come in late, here is the backstory. The delisting follows a consumer complaint over the vehicle’s failure to meet company’s specified 312km range on a single charge. Last month, the Delhi Transport Commission issued a show cause notice to Tata Motors. In its response released on Monday, the manufacturer has said that it stands by the Nexon EV’s claimed ARAI range, and will continue to engage constructively to protect the interests of its customers. “The Nexon EV is the only personal segment EV available in the market today that meets the stringent FAME norms. The range at single full charge (312km) for the Nexon EV is basis the certification received from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), which is the official body that independently tests all mass produced vehicles under standard/defined test conditions before they can be offered to customers,” its statement said.

“As with conventional vehicles (with IC engines), the actual range achieved in EVs is dependent on AC usage, individual driving style and the actual conditions in which the vehicle is driven. The range achievement is also a function of familiarity with the new technology, and customers report improvements upwards of 10 percent within 4-6 weeks of familiarity. We have been receiving several positive testimonials from our customers and are encouraged to see them exploring new places with the Nexon EV and sharing their experiences.”

Autocar India’s take

As with every vehicle, real-world mileage (range) will vary from the certified figure. Mileage will also differ widely from user to user and is heavily dependent on factors such as driving style, traffic, and even weather. For EVs, this variation is even more pronounced, as a battery’s depletion rate varies far more than an IC engine’s fuel consumption.

Temperature variations significantly impact a battery’s performance and, curiously, if you drive an EV on a highway, you’ll get a lower range than you would in the city. This is because on the highway, with the throttle constantly engaged, an EV will only be depleting its battery whereas in the city, it benefits from increased brake energy regeneration, thanks to having to slow down for traffic.

This is a key factor, as it must be noted that for EVs like the Nexon EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, and MG ZS EV that belong to category M1 (vehicles which can ferry up to eight passengers plus a driver and their luggage), ARAI limits the range testing to Part One (urban cycle) of the Modified Indian Driving Cycle.

Thus, a real-world figure with mixed usage will definitely show a big difference compared to the ARAI figure. This is not to say the ARAI figure or system is flawed. On the contrary, it represents a uniform testing procedure applied to all vehicles, thus enabling a fair and accurate comparison. However, it cannot be taken as an exact value that all users will achieve.

For instance, drive an EV up to a hill station and the constant load will rapidly deplete the battery. On a 280km drive from Mumbai up to Mahableshwar, we came perilously close to depleting the Mercedes-Benz EQC’s battery, this despite the certified 445km range. The return downhill journey, however, was a breeze, and we coasted home with extra kilometers to spare.

EVs and real range: How they performed in the Autocar India road test

Last year, we conducted a range test for the Nexon EV, Hyundai Kona, and the MG ZS EV according to our set Autocar India Road Test standards. The range test had the distance measured via GPS, drivers rotated, and all testing carried out at the same average speed. Our tests, too, showed a difference in the claimed range versus the real world figure for all EVs.

Nexon EV vs ZS EV vs Kona Electric: Range
ARAI 312km 340km 452km
Autocar Highway 201km 301km 236km
Autocar City 216km 353km 282km
Autocar Average 208km 317km 250km

The ZS EV’s performance on an Autocar India record hypermiling run last year also demonstrates just how much of an impact driving style, load, and other factors can have on an EV’s range. The ZS EV achieved 563km on a single charge, with no electrical load such as AC, stereo, headlights etc. Thus, in the Nexon EV’s case, too, it is expected to have a range difference in the real world.

ARAI’s testing procedures for electric vehicles

Before getting to the testing methodology, here are certain prerequisites – the ambient temperatures must range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius; tyre pressures should be as per what is prescribed by the manufacturer, and all other mechanical bits must conform to the manufacturer’s specifications and standards. And, finally, the electric vehicle’s battery has to be fully charged. During the tests, all electricals except those required to drive the car need to be switched off, including lights, indicators, and auxiliary devices like air-con and audio system, which isn’t the case in the real world where these surely contribute to some power consumption.

ARAI conducts the tests on a chassis dynamometer (a sophisticated rolling road used for vehicle testing and development) whose rolling resistance is set in accordance with the car’s ramp weight (maximum permissible weight).For example, if a car’s ramp weight is between 1,980- 2,100kg, then the rolling resistance will be equivalent of 2,040kg.

ARAI’s test doesn’t include a highway cycle

For electric vehicles belonging to the M1 category, ARAI limits the range testing to Part One (urban cycle) of the Modified Indian Driving Cycle. Each vehicle goes through 22 testing cycles spread over 195 seconds each. During each of these tests the vehicle is supposed to idle, accelerate and decelerate in a fixed pattern over a predetermined duration. The driver or tester is supposed to follow certain steps, including gradual pedal inputs, to avoid any sudden acceleration or deceleration which could skew the findings. The average speed maintained during the cycle is 19kph, with a maximum speed of 50kph. After 22 such cycles, the total distance covered by the vehicle is used to calculate its range.

To derive the total power consumption over the 22 cycles, the battery is put for charging within 30 minutes of the completion of the test. An energy measurement device, placed between the main socket and the vehicle charger, measures the charge delivered (watt-hours) to the car’s battery. In order to calculate the consumption (kWh per km), we divide the charge delivered to top up the battery (watt-hours) by the distance covered (km).

Consumption = Charge to top-up battery/Distance

To find out the maximum travel range from the final consumption figure, divide the battery size by consumption to establish a theoretical figure, which is what’s printed and advertised by the manufacturer as the vehicles’ range.

Range = Battery Size/Consumption

Taking the Kona’s example, certified range is 452km and battery size is 39.2kWh, so going by the above formula 452km = 39.2kWh/Consumption, hence consumption by reverse calculation would have been 0.086kWh per km (or 8.6kWh per 100km).

Clearly, the delisting of the Tata Nexon EV is unfortunate, as it has obtained its ARAI certification. ARAI certification is a mandatory and regulated process conducted by government- approved facilities and logically, queries should also be directed towards ARAI, the certifying agency. At a time when the country is trying to promote EVs, this whole affair will only prove to be a stumbling block and could have been handled in a more nuanced manner.

Also see:

Tata Nexon EV review, road test

Tata Altroz iTurbo vs Hyundai i20 Turbo vs Volkswagen Polo TSI comparison

Jaguar I-Pace India launch set for March 23

The all-electric Jaguar I-Pace is set to be launched in India on March 23, 2021. Jaguar’s first EV in our market was previously set to launch on March 9 though the carmaker has now pushed back the launch to later in the month. Jaguar officially started accepting bookings for the EV late last year.

  • It will come with a 90kWh lithium-ion battery and dual electric motors
  • The I-Pace will be offered in three trims – S, SE and HSE
  • Jaguar has partnered with Tata Power for charging solutions

2021 Jaguar I Pace: battery and electric motor details

Powering the all-electric I-Pace will be a 90kWh battery, which will send power to two electric motors that develop a combined 400hp and 696Nm of torque. As per Jaguar’s claims, the 2.2-tonne electric SUV can do the 0-100kph sprint in 4.8sec, and go on to hit a top speed of 200kph. While there is no ARAI-certified range yet, the I-Pace has a 470km WLTP-rated range on a single charge.

To offer its customers some added peace of mind, Jaguar will be offering a complimentary 5-year service package and 5 years of roadside assistance, in addition to the standard 8-year or 1,60,000km battery warranty.

2021 Jaguar I Pace: variant break-up

In India, Jaguar will offer the I-Pace electric SUV in three variants – S, SE, and top-spec HSE. The base-spec I-Pace will come well-kitted, with 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, LED headlamps and tail-lights, a full-length fixed glass roof, dual touchscreen infotainment system running ‘Pivi Pro’, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, ‘InControl’ connected-car tech and more coming as standard.

The top-spec HSE trim will feature even more equipment like the adaptive ‘Matrix’ LED headlights, a hands-free boot release, adaptive cruise control, a heads-up display, ‘Windsor’ leather sport seats, and a 16-speaker, 825W Meridian sound system, to name a few.

Jaguar will also offer the I-Pace with a number of optional extras, including adaptive air suspension, four-zone climate control, an ionising air purifier with PM2.5 filtration, and a digital rear-view mirror, among others.

2021 Jaguar I Pace: charging network

Jaguar has acknowledged the lacklustre charging infrastructure currently available in India and has partnered with Tata Power to provide home and office charging options to all I-Pace customers. As things stand, Tata Power has set up an EV charging network in India with over 200 charging stations, called ‘EZ Charge’, which I-Pace owners will currently be able to access across 23+ cities.

Additionally, a complimentary 7.4kW AC wall-mounted charger will be provided with the purchase of the EV.

2021 Jaguar I Pace: competition check

Currently, the Jaguar I-Pace EV will only face competition from the Mercedes-Benz EQC electric SUV that was launched in October last year at an introductory price of Rs 99.30 lakh (ex-showroom, India). The competition in the segment will only heat up with the launch of the Audi e-tron – which is also slated for early 2021.

Also see:

New Cars for 2021: EVs

Jaguar F-Type Heritage 60 Edition revealed

2021 Jaguar F Pace SVR gets a makeover and performance boost

Alpine reveals first F1 car since Renault rebranding

The Alpine F1 Team has unveiled its first ever Formula 1 car – the A521 – carrying a striking new blue, white and red livery. As part of a larger restructuring within the Renault Group, the company decided to rebrand its F1 works team to the Alpine division. Renault CEO Luca de Meo said the company will “use F1 as a platform to market a brand that we want to develop in the house.”

Additionally, the team has also confirmed that returning two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso will be fit to participate in the pre-season tests next week.

  • A521 kicks off Alpine’s foray into the world of F1
  • Alonso fit to participate in tests and season-opening Bahrain GP
  • Kvyat joins Alpine as reserve drive

Alpine A521 F1 racer

Although the Alpine name is new to F1, in reality the Anglo-French team is the same entity as the Renault squad that finished fifth in last year’s championship. The new A521’s chassis and powertrain is an evolution of last season’s Renault RS20.

Given the rules freeze from 2020, Alpine is hopeful that the team will continue Renault’s impressive finish to the season, where Daniel Ricciardo (now at McLaren) and Esteban Ocon scored three podium finishes. The team also added that it has “developed and improved every part that has not been homologated, especially the back of the car where additional changes to the aerodynamic regulations were imposed by the FIA”.

The team has also restructured its management, with Laurent Rossi being appointed as Chief Executive Officer and former Suzuki MotoGP boss Davide Brivio joining as Racing Director.

Alpine goes into the 2021 F1 season as the sole team carrying their engines – McLaren was using a Renault power unit last year but has switched back to Mercedes power for 2021. Rossi acknowledged that this might cause a loss of the co-development teams gain from running the engine in several squads. However, he remains confident that because Alpine can concentrate solely on its own engine without worrying about others, the team will be competitive.

Fernando Alonso will be fit to race

This year will see Fernando Alonso make his F1 return, after over two years away from the championship. The Spanish racer recently injured his jaw in a road cycling accident and barely featured in the press conference revealing the A521. But Rossi confirmed that he would be fit or both, the pre-season test and subsequent race in Bahrain.

According to Rossi, Alonso has displayed remarkable powers of recovery: “Fernando is doing very well. He was lucky because he ended up only suffering [injuries] from his jaw. Besides the necessary surgery and care on his jaw, the rest [of him] is totally fine and Fernando is completely fit. We are surprised that he has recovered so quickly.”

The other driver is the highly-rated Esteban Ocon, who will be hoping to continue to build on his maiden podium at the penultimate round of last year’s championship. Ex-Red Bull and AlphaTauri racer Daniil Kvyat has been confirmed as the reserve driver.

2021 F1 season

In a virtual unveiling, both Rossi and Luca de Meo confirmed that the team is aiming for regular podium finishes in the immediate future; outright wins and challenging for the championship remain a longer-term aim.

Rossi explained that “behind the scenes and away from the track, we are building the new car and new engine [for the 2022 and onwards rules], and here our objectives are pretty aggressive. In fact, we want to tackle the new era with high ambitions and we decisively designed our processes and our team in order to first compete for podiums in the mid-term and then, in the longer run, compete for victories. Not just race wins, but also the championship.”

Pre-season testing gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12-14, two weeks before the season-opening Bahrain GP at the same venue on March 28. You can head here to check out the full revised calendar.

Also see:

Mercedes gunning for record eighth F1 title with new W12 racer

Red Bull Racing unveils 2021 F1 challenger

New Suzuki Hayabusa teased ahead of India launch

Last month, Suzuki took the wraps of its new-gen Hayabusa and we soon got word that the bike would make its way to India this year. It turns out that we may not have to wait much longer, with the manufacturer sharing a teaser on its social media handle saying “The ultimate superbike, coming soon.”

  • New Hayabusa India launch in Q2 2021

  • To come in via the CKD route

  • Will be more expensive than its predecessor

2021 Suzuki Hayabusa: what’s new?

The 2021 Hayabusa represents a big change over the old model, with a comprehensive electronics package, a reworked 1,340cc, four-cylinder engine (that now makes less power), improved brakes and refined suspension, among other things. Click here to read more about what has changed on this modern icon.

2021 Suzuki Hayabusa: price and India launch

The previous-gen Hayabusa was India’s most popular ‘superbike’, thanks to its jaw-dropping proportions as well as a cult status built through cinema appearances and its claim to the title of being the world’s fastest motorcycle. However, another big contribution to the Busa’s success in our market was that Suzuki sold it via the CKD route. This helped the company keep the price down to Rs 13.75 lakh (ex-showroom), making it much cheaper than most 1,000cc superbikes.

For the new-gen Hayabusa, Suzuki will also import it via the CKD route, but the price is expected to be much higher than before. Sources suggest that the new Suzuki Hayabusa could be priced more in the Rs 17-18 lakh (ex-showroom) price point when it goes on sale in India. Some dealers have already started taking unofficial bookings and the bike is expected to go on sale in the second quarter of this year.