Hybrids catching up fast with EVs; Maruti, Toyota driving growth

Sales of cars and SUVs with hybrid transmission are growing rapidly, narrowing the gap between them and electric vehicles in market share, thanks to Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Motor offering several popular models with this option.

In the January-March quarter of 2024, hybrid vehicles accounted for 2.48% of the country's total passenger vehicle market, compared with 2.63% for electric vehicles, according to data collected by the consulting firm Jato Dynamics.

With demand remaining strong and reports that automakers such as Hyundai Motor and Kia are exploring the option to launch hybrid vehicles, industry experts expect the segment to overtake electric vehicles in sales as early as this fiscal year.

Currently, except for Maruti Suzuki and Toyota, only Honda Motor Company in India sells hybrid cars, which come with an electric motor along with a fossil fuel-powered engine, making them low on emissions and highly fuel efficient.

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Improved Fuel Efficiency

Electric cars have been the stars of the automotive market recently, driven by increased awareness of vehicle pollution, but they now face competition from the hybrid car sector. Vehicle autonomy has been one of the biggest concerns for potential electric car buyers, as there are still not enough facilities to recharge the batteries, especially outside of cities.

Toyota is a leader in the hybrid vehicle segment. The Japanese automaker's self-charging hybrid electric vehicle technology gives vehicles the ability to run in electric or fossil fuel mode, or both. These vehicles, called plug-in hybrids, can circulate between 40% and 60% of the time in electric mode with the gasoline engine turned off. This improves fuel efficiency by 40% to 50%, reduces operating costs and reduces carbon emissions, said Vikram Gulati, executive vice president of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Corporation, the local unit of the Japanese automaker.

"It is quite encouraging to see the positive trend of hybrid electric vehicle technology and the growing acceptance by customers as a practical mobility solution, which will enable a clean and seamless technological transition towards the future of a carbon-neutral society," Gulati stated.

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