MUMBAI: The local arm of the German luxury car major Mercedes-Benz is on course to introducing models with alternative fuels, including plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles, by 2018 - full two years ahead of the government plans to introduce stricter emission norms.
In March this year, the government had advanced by four years BS-VI implementation, skipping BS-V. The earlier roadmap under the Auto Fuel Policy, was to rollout BS-V norms from April 2022 and BS-VI from April 2024.
"We can easily meet the BS-VI requirements. All we need is around a year to make the changes. And we can bring in models with alternative drive trains including plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles from our global portfolio," Mercedes- Benz India MD and chief executive Roland Folger told PTI in an interview.
"We already have one of the widest ranges of such models globally," he added.
He said he expects BS-VI introduction to help his company due to the early bird advantage.
In order to achieve the desired objective, however, the industry needs the support of the government in speeding up the certification process as also getting higher quality fuel on time, Folger said.
"We have our cars ready but we need support and time from the government. We will be BS-VI compatible by 2018 itself," he added.
Mercedes already has the largest range of plug-in hybrids globally and is also investing heavily into this technology. Recently, it announced 500 million euro investment into a second battery production plant at Kamenz in Germany.
In April 2010, its parent Dailmer had picked up 10 per cent stake in Elon Musk promoted electric vehicle startup, Telsa Motors Inc.
Globally, Merc's electric models include the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, which has been on the market in its third generation since 2012. Its Smart Fortwo Coupe, Smart Fortwo Cabrio and the Smart Forfour Electric Drive have made their global debuts at the ongoing Paris Motor Show.
Its other electric models include B 250 e which has been in the US since 2014, and since 2015 in Europe.
Mercedes is also developing a multi-model electric vehicle architecture for battery-powered vehicles and the commercial launch is expected in some time, the company said, adding that globally it expects its electric mobility arm to be in the six-digit figures by 2020.
On the plug-in hybrids segment, Merc has 13 models
including the S 500 e, C 350 e (Saloon, Estate), the GLE 500 e 4MATIC and the GLC 350 e 4MATIC, the GLC Coupe 350 e 4MATIC and the E 350 e.
It is also launching face-lift modle of the S 500 e next year, the company said.
Merc will also put the first fuel-cellpowered vehicle with plug-in technology into series production, the GLC F-Cell from 2017, it said.
On the potential for electric cars in India, Folger said: "Though we are enthused about the advent of alternative drive trains globally, in India, we believe electric vehicle industry is at a nascent stage and its volume comprises less than 1 per cent of the total vehicles sales."
The government had last year announced an ambitious plan to put 6-7 million electric vehicles on road by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. The plan also offers incentives to both manufacturers as well as end customers.
Currently, however, there are only couple of thousands of electric cars on the roads in the country. The electric car sales grew around 40 per cent last year.
But Folger was quick to underline that for the government plans on the electric vehicles front to bear fruits, it has to create compatible infrastructure to support electric mobility as a main stream mobility solution for consumers.
"But sadly, there is no talk on this front now. Who will set up the infrastructure for charging and parking? I have no clarity on this. We need to ask first as where are the facilities available. It will need a massive infrastructure, around 500 parking stations," Folger said.
He also said electric vehicles are expensive and eventually the cost will be passed onto customers. Before introducing these electric vehicles, it is important to introduce BS-VI and that will reduce emission in the longer-run.
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