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Electric Kwid may be headed to India after its roll-out in China

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French car maker Renault is working on an electric version (EV) of Kwid, its successful and affordable small car, increasing competition for India’s EV makers such as Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd.

Renault will introduce the electric Kwid in China, followed by India. The car’s road-worthiness and range extension tests are being done in India, a person aware of the matter said.

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“Lots of work has happened on the car in India, but a decision on its launch will happen once the Indian government formalizes its EV policy,” the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

The subsequent introduction of other EVs from Renault’s global portfolio in India will also depend on the EV policy, this person added.

The launch of Kwid’s EV in China will be a huge achievement for the French carmaker, since this will be for the first time that a particular product designed and developed in India by a global vehicle manufacturer, will be launched in a developed market—bigger in total vehicle sales with an electric powertrain.

Under ‘Drive the Future’, Renault’s mid-term plan for 2017-22, the car maker plans to launch one EV in India by 2022. By then, the carmaker will also globally launch electrified variants of 60% of all its offerings. It will also develop eight fully electric models and 12 electrified models based on alliance platforms, as per the mid-term document.

Renault will be the second carmaker after the tie-up of Suzuki Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., which are expected to launch a small electric car in India after 2020.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd will sell and service the first small car from Toyota-Suzuki. The company will also establish charging stations for the car.

“Renault is a global leader in EV technology but we need to adapt them to Indian conditions. We have our technology centre in India; however, it is critical to know the road map and policy framework before moving towards that direction. We are closely watching the developments in the EV market scenario in India, basis which our plans to introduce EVs in the Indian market would depend,” a company spokesperson said in response to an email query from Mint.

The company also mentioned that it does not have a battery manufacturing unit in India; hence, a public-private partnership is required to build that.

“What sells in China? Low-cost electric cars. So we are putting engineers from the alliance to develop a low-cost (Renault) Kwid EV for China. I just test drove the car in China. It will be a very well engineered car at a very low cost. And once it works in China, there’s no reason you’re not going to export the car to India, to Brazil, to the Middle East,” said Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault, in an interview to American website Automotive News.

“This is a very rational decision because launching a vehicle just for the sake of it does not work in the long run. Renault is a foreign automaker and they are trying to build a strong foundation. Launching a vehicle and then to scrap it would be a major setback. The Union government needs to pave the way for automobile manufacturers with a proper policy on electric vehicles,” said Anil Sharma, principal analyst, automotive forecasting, IHS Automotive.

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