Looks like the foreign auto makers are not slowing down on their launches in India despite the government making it amply clear that in a decade from now not a single petrol or diesel car will be sold in the country. Interestingly, though the government’s vision statement reflected an accelerated shift towards hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), in September when the state-owned Energy Efficiency Services awarded a Rs.1,120 crore contract to secure 10,000 electric vehicles, the term “hybrid” was conspicuously missing. The government’s stand was further clarified with a 43% tax under the new GST regime for hybrids, while EVs were taxed at 12%.
Despite the tax setback, luxury carmaker Lexus India has launched the country’s first compact SUV hybrid, the NX300H, the smallest model in its global portfolio. Available in two variants – the entry-level Luxury Trim and the top-end F-sport, it is the brand’s fourth car on the Indian roads. Lexus, which announced independence from its parent company, Toyota in September is awaiting yen fluctuations to determine the final price that is being pegged at upwards of Rs.6 million. Bookings for the electric hybrid model have already begun at ₹5 lakh with an impending commercial launch in Januray 2018 and a final roll-out at its four showrooms in Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai and Bengaluru by March 2018.
Lexus’ higher asking price compared to rivals BMWX3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC could be due to two reasons – one, it is the only automaker in this segment to provide a hybrid option and second it is being sold as a CBU (completely built unit) in India. Will the sales figures reflect an equally exuberant number remains to be seen, given that the production of another hybrid from the parent company’s JV with Bengaluru-based Kirloskar group had to be halted amid a slump in demand. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping Lexus India from racing ahead with its hybrid plans.