10 standout machines: 2 of which are EVs and 2 hybrids – one of them even generates 800 horses and has a Prancing Horse on the bonnet. Ladies and gentlemen, your ‘Best of 2022’...
It’s a beautiful cover this month (if I do say so myself) – all the colours of the rainbow and ten of the most desirable machines on sale today. Last year, for the first time, we had an EV amidst the winners – the Ather 450X. This year, there are a pair of EVs – the BMW i4 & Ola S1 Pro – and a couple of hybrids, the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and Ferrari 296 GTB. Yup, a Ferrari hybrid – which not only enables zero-emissions motoring but also helps it generate gargantuan grunt.
As part of our award ceremony, we also sit down with the top management of the winners. It’s a year-end tradition that gives us a window into the industry – looking back on what is inevitably an eventful year, all the while peering around the corner in order to paint a picture of what lies ahead.
Naturally, the hot topic was electrification. The industry has seemingly adopted EVs as the future – at least in the short term. The naysayers have all been silenced. Or at least they don’t dare swim against the tide, especially as the current continues to gain momentum (pun intended).
With the Grand Vitara, Maruti aims to bring hybrid tech to the people – and, with Toyota technology, they’ve created a winner. Maruti’s Chief Technology Officer, C.V. Raman – or Raman San as he’s better known – is amongst the most knowledgeable, yet unassuming, industry professionals you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. He believes that we need to look at the entire lifecycle of emissions for a vehicle, rather than just what comes out of the tailpipe. On a well-to-wheel basis, he says, hybrids are on par with EVs today. When we do actually transition to renewable energy, then EVs begin to make more sense, but today it's hybrids that lay the path to electrification – rationalising not only emissions but also doing away with range anxiety and the need for a fully built charging infrastructure.
BMW, meanwhile, has been so successful with its latest flock of EVs that it believes it’s grossly underestimated the pace with which Indian customers – at least in the luxury segment – would adopt electrification. Volkswagen, on the other hand, feels that electrification is their chance to level the playing field and take the lead in the Indian market. Hyundai and Kia are already busy developing India-specific EVs, while Ola is leading the charge – literally – with the S1 Pro of course, but also with audacious plans in battery manufacturing and the development of a ground-up four-wheel EV.
Clearly, it’s challenging times for the industry, but that also translates to opportunity – all the ingredients, then, that forge true innovation.
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