Volvo has already announced its plans of moving towards full electrification in international markets and now, the company's top brass has confirmed that its India operations are set to follow in its global footsteps. Charles Frump, managing director, Volvo Car India, in an interview with Autocar India, revealed the carmaker's planned shift away from diesels in our market in the next two years.
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Volvo diesels to give way to petrols
Talking about the firm’s powertrain strategy in India, Frump said, “We had been a full diesel player and now, we are shifting to petrol. Then we will shift to electric.” Volvo currently offers its XC40, XC60 and XC90 SUVs, V90 estate and the S90 sedan in our market, and will soon be launching the S60 sedan.
The Swedish automaker’s India portfolio has largely been dominated by diesels, which started to change with its entry-level SUV seeing a change of heart to petrol last year. “We started with the XC40 petrol. The S60 will be petrol-only, and then we'll be bringing the rest of the line to petrol shortly.”
He further added, “The petrol engines that we bring are going to be four-cylinder petrols.” The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that Volvo India is slated to deploy is available in various configurations globally – T4 (190hp, turbocharged), T5 (250hp, turbocharged) and T6 (310hp, turbocharged and supercharged).
Detailing the timeline for the company’s powertrain transition, Frump had told Autocar India in a previous conversation, “I see us bringing in petrol as we launch new vehicles next year (2021), and by the following year, we would be all-petrol."
Volvo's move towards full electrification
Though shunning diesels is a key part of its current strategy, the company is already working towards a future beyond just internal combustion engines (ICEs). Commenting on Volvo India’s electrification plans, Frump said, “We'll have a full transformation to petrol, and then we'll start looking at going from petrol to electrics, which will start with XC40.” Volvo has lined up its all-electric XC40 Recharge for an India launch in 2021.
The Volvo boss believes that the government incentives already in place create a business case strong enough for the carmaker to venture into the EV space and provide a decent value to its customers. The premium that EVs command over their conventional counterparts should also be more palatable for luxury car buyers, allowing “the luxury segment to lead when it comes to electric cars,” commented Frump.
He also hinted at further excitement from the brand next year. “We're now looking into the rest of 2021. We're going to have some surprise product news and launches that we’ll be getting into a bit later. So, we see 2021 as being a great year for Volvo.”
Hybrids to be exclusive to range-topping Volvos
While Volvo also offers plug-in hybrid solutions across its entire international line-up, the technology is not expected to feature majorly in its India portfolio. Instead, the Swedish marquee will switch “directly from diesels to electrics, rather than having many plug-in hybrids,” said Frump.
The Volvo head admitted that while plug-ins should have ideally been figured into the company’s electrification plans for our market, the current regulatory framework means that they will only find use as a niche offering. Under the current tax structure which heavily incentivises pure EVs over hybrids, electric vehicles attract just a 5 percent GST, but hybrids are taxed much closer to ICE cars, at 43 percent. Moreover, many states like Delhi and Tamil Nadu have waived off road tax for EVs, among other benefits.
“The (plug-in hybrid) technology is quite expensive and if there are no benefits for that, then it is very difficult for us to make that business case work, except for our very high-end XC90 Excellence,” he said.
Volvo India localisation efforts
In addition to charting out its powertrain strategy, Volvo is also focusing on increasing local assembly at its plant in Bengaluru. “Just over three years ago, we first had our local assembly of the XC90. Then we came with S90, followed by the XC60, and then the V90. Now, we’ll be coming with the XC40 quite soon,” said Frump.
To begin with, the upcoming S60 sedan is slated to be imported into India in early 2021 from Volvo’s plant in Charleston, USA. However, the automaker is eager to commence CKD (completely knocked-down) operations of its latest sedan in India. “We'll be looking at bringing the S60 on very shortly as well. So, then, our whole line-up will be locally assembled. That's been our focus before we start thinking about any kind of deeper localisation,” commented the senior executive.
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