India charges 43% tax on Hybrid vehicles, including GST. That’s a bummer, whereas, on EV, GST is just 5%, no road tax or registration, and you get tax incentives under section 80 EEB. Nothing wrong with it, but where the adoption of EVs is far from mainstream and EV charging infrastructure still appalling. Unless you can have a dedicated wall-mount charger in your society, forget about buying an EV, you will live a deplorable life. On the other hand, Hybrid cars, which return twice the fuel efficiency, thus reducing the carbon footprint by 50%, should at least have half the EV benefits, if not more. Lexus NX300h and Honda city eHEV are classic cases; if taxation is justified, many others will bring their hybrids. I recently drove the Wrangler 4xe hybrid in the USA and was impressed. Still, folks at Jeep India think that selling that in India with the hybrid tax structure will make the cost of wrangler 4Xe unattractive.
We then have some classic examples of wonderful EVs like the KIA EV6 and BMW ix4, which sell out faster than you can finish your hamburger, even at those price points. EV6 had 3.5 paying customers for each 100 allotted cars to India. The chip shortage and the Ukrainian crisis have further increased the waiting game. Stellantis, with its Citroen C3, is eyeing a pie from the juicy segment, which has players like Renault Kiger, and Tata Punch, and it does that with all its quirky styling and good ride quality. Its minimalist tech might be a dampener, but historically if Maruti Swift still commands a heavy price on the resale market, it’s because of significantly fewer electronics. In simple theory, in the budget segment, fewer electronics means fewer malfunctions over the years and less maintenance cost, which results in higher resale prices, making the new cars of the same brand sell well. That is also one long-term strategy. Is Citroen playing the real long-term game, then? But even in the short term, it will be attractive to a segment and generation which wants to stand out.