Hybrid car are nowhere seen in India. But such cars could soon become the most sought after vehicles. When Japanese car companies have hybrid vehicles in their portfolio, Indian companies too are adopting these technologies for a greener environment.
Hybrid cars work on combination of two or more energy sources required to run the car. The petrol run engine could receive supplementary energy from electricity, bio-fuels, hydrogen or battery power. This supplement energy will help the car run of a specified distance without petrol. Therefore the fuel efficiency increases vastly in these vehicles.
Many countries are providing subsidies to car manufactures to develop such kind of vehicles.
Honda was the first to lead the hybrid car caravan by announcing its intentions and will be launching Honda Civic hybrid in India by this year end. The car was recently showcased at the 9th Auto Expo, in New Delhi.
Though, Indian car manufacturers have shown little interest in these technologies. But off late, Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors have caught up on these technologies.
Tata Motors along with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is developing a hydrogen cars and buses. The scientific expertise will help teach the staff in handling liquid hydrogen. The same fuel is used to propel rockets outside the earth's atmosphere. If the intended hydrogen based car is successful, Tata Motors plans to adopt them in their entire range of vehicles.
Mahindra has already tied up with an Italian design company to develop a range of hybrid vehicles. The SUV manufacturer has focused on developing electric hybrids and bio-diesel variants. The company has entered into an understanding with the Royal Dutch Shell Company for developing hydrogen based passenger cars.
However, hybrid cars have a long route to cover before they reach Indian shores. Hybrid cars are really expensive. While a petrol run Honda Civic costs around Rs 12 lakh, the hybrid would cost nearly Rs 20 lakh. As these cars have to be fitted with newly developed technologies, they will come at a higher cost.
Analysts opine that the Indian market is not yet ready to receive hybrid cars. The most common form of green vehicles is the auto rickshaw, which source energy from CNG or LPG kits.
The offer of CNG and LPG run vehicles by several car manufacturers did not interest the vast population. The people complained of lack of infrastructure facilities as the main cause for not choosing these vehicles. In fact if the hybrids do enter India, they will have to have proper re-fuelling facilities at regular distances.
Environmental concerns and crude oil deficit will govern the future government policies. Even as cheaper vehicles, like the Tata Nano and Bajaj Lite, are being launched, it remains to be seen whether government will give a thrust to hybrid technologies.
Meanwhile, the car manufacturing companies have been asking the government to provide subsidy for hybrid vehicles, so that costs reduce and make the hybrids more price competitive in the market. With hybrid cars in India, we can create a green revolution in India.