Workers assemble cars in the Hyundai Motor India plant at Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Photo: Reuters

With the Indian government favoring electric cars over hybrids under the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, Korean car major Hyundai is planning a feasibility study for driving a mini electric SUV into India the next year. It will also look at the option of introducing electric versions of the Grand i10 and i20 compact cars, Times of India has reported.

Under the GST regime, the government had mandated the lowest duty (among vehicles) of 12% for electric cars, while slapping a 43% duty on hybrids, raising it from 30% in the pre-GST era. In addition, the Indian government also wants to usher in complete electric mobility by 2030, a plan seen as too ambitious by a section of car industry.

“Electric cars are a focus for us. We have to go by the government’s policy and norms,” said Y.K. Koo, Hyundai India MD. “It’s better to implement electric cars on lower-segment products. For example, the Grand i10 and i20,” he told the daily.

Koo too felt it was difficult to migrate the entire fleet to electric by the government’s target, but added that many key segments can surely be upgraded. He wanted the government to offer “more benefits” to facilitate transfer to electric vehicles. “Also, what is needed is a robust (support) infrastructure like charging stations for electric cars,” he told the daily.

A key facet of infrastructure needed for charging these vehicles is adequate power, but in many parts of India regular electric supply continues to be an issue. There are hardly any charging stations for electric cars on the highways right now. With only a handful of pure electric vehicles available in the country, primarily two-wheelers, most charging is done from household outlets.

Moreover, the Indian government is yet to introduce a standard for charging infrastructure. Unless they are formulated, original equipment makers and charging station providers will not be able to finalize their investment plans.

Due to all these constraints electric vehicle sales in India continue to languish below 1% of total vehicle sales. In 2016, only 22,000 electric vehicles were sold in the country, and sales of four-wheelers were just 2,000.