Hybrid vehicles are a better fit than battery-powered electric cars for India in the immediate future, given the nation’s shortcomings in EV infrastructure, according to the regional head of auto parts supplier Schaeffler AG.“Hybrid vehicles will play an equally important role because they are able to address some of the immediate infrastructure challenges around e-mobility,” Dharmesh Arora, Schaeffler’s Asia Pacific chief executive officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday. “For electric mobility to become mainstream we could argue it will take some more years or longer than rest of the world.”
Schaeffler’s outlook echoes the stance of India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which is also glum about the uptake of electric vehicles and is focusing on hybrid models until charging infrastructure improves and EVs become more affordable for Indian buyers. Electric vehicles account for less than 1% of India’s annual car sales, compared to almost 10% in China.
Schaeffler is looking to make the Asia Pacific region an export hub, Arora said in the interview. Exports accounted for 14% of Schaeffler India Ltd.’s second-quarter sales, up from 11% in the first quarter. The company is seeing a good response for India-made products and intends to take advantage of their cost-competitiveness by exporting not just to Asia but the rest of the world, Harsha Kadam, chief executive officer of Schaeffler India, said on an earnings call in July.Schaeffler is facing supply-chain related hurdles ranging from a shortage of steel and semiconductors to strong competition for shipping containers, Arora said. The company is negotiating long-term prices with suppliers to combat commodity price inflation. Schaeffler has reached 80%-85% localization on the automotive side in the region as part of its cost-cutting plan, he said.