Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus will continue to launch hybrids in India despite the India government’s clear-cut push for fully electric vehicles. Lexus officials believe hybrids are not only an important stepping stone towards full electrification but also an ideal solution to curb vehicular pollution.
The brand sees lack of renewable energy generation as a major hurdle in EV adoption. “Apart from the high cost of EVs, generating clean energy is also an issue. We still use fossil fuels and coal for generating 70-80 percent of electricity, so the purpose gets lost. With EVs, we are only moving the problem somewhere else,” newly appointed Lexus India chairman, N Raja told Autocar India.
The government's ambitious plan of shifting entirely to electric vehicles by 2030 has faced a lot of flak from various sections of the auto industry, which maintain the view that hybrids are a necessary stepping stone to full battery electrics.
Lexus believes in the mid- to long-term India can promote both hybrid and electric options, because one will lead to better utilisation of the other. "Each has a greater chance of succeeding because this is tied to the cost of the battery and ultimately the cost of the vehicle," a company spokesperson said.
Vince Socco, executive vice president, Lexus Asia Pacific expressed concern over the government placing a greater emphasis on the desired outcome (of lowering emissions) rather than technology itself. "By including hybrids in our line-up, we are supporting the government’s move to electrification, but they clearly have focused only on battery electric vehicles as their big bet going forward. And that’s fine, but what we are saying is 'please have a broad definition of electrification'," Socco told Autocar India.
Going ahead, popularising hybrids is the biggest challenge for Lexus and it has sought the government’s support in making them attractive. Lexus was forced to hike prices of its hybrids, which account for a major chunk of its range in India, post GST as they were subject to a tax rate of 43 percent, up from around 30 percent earlier. Continuing with its push towards hybrid technology, the Japanese carmaker recently launched the LS 500h, its sixth hybrid in the range at a price of Rs 1.77-1.93 crore (ex-showroom India).
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