Lanka’s electric vehicle segment to receive boost | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Lanka’s electric vehicle segment to receive boost

23 February, 2020
The KUV 100NXT K6+
The KUV 100NXT K6+

The much hyped need to develop the electric vehicle segment in the country will receive a boost with the launch of the Mahindra E KUV 100 vehicle by Mahindra with Ideal Motors, its local partner.

The vehicle will be introduced to the market shortly, Ideal Group Chairman Nalin Welgama said during a media visit to the Ideal Motors assembly facility at Welipenna last week.

“We are carrying our experiments on the electric three-wheeler which is also being done in India and we hope to roll out the vehicle mid this year,” Welgama said.

Developing the electric vehicle segment in Sri Lanka has been moving at a snail’s pace due to the lack of infrastructure and the high electricity tariff structure which has impeded growth of the segment, which is the future of the motor vehicle industry across the globe.

The need to shift to electricity powered vehicles arose in recent years due to the costly and ecologically harmful burning of fossil fuel, a rapidly depleting energy source.

“It is really not the inadequate number of charging locations that has stifled the growth of the electric vehicle segment in Sri Lanka, but the delay to rationalise the electricity tariff structure based on peak and off-peak consumption,” Welgama said.

In 2016, the Indian Government said that the country would skip the BS V norms altogether and adopt BS VI norms by 2020. In a recent judgment, the Indian Supreme Court banned the sale and registration of motor vehicles conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage IV in the entire country from April 1 this year.

On the duty structure for imported vehicles, Welgama said that the company along with the motor vehicle industry is pleased with the decision taken by the President not to change the tax structure for imported vehicles in an ad hoc manner as done in the past.

The President pledged not to revise duties on vehicles in the next few years at a meeting with component manufactures last week. The motor trade industry requested the authorities to increase the Loan to Value ratio from 50 to 70 percent and maintain the current duty structure to support the industry.

“Since 2015 there has been a downward spiral in vehicle sales. However, we are bullish about the market given the reduction in interest rates on loans and the AWPR,” Welgama said.

The KUV NXT K6+, a ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ product was rolled out at the Welipenna plant which was launched last August.

Spread on over 10 acres of land, the plant has a production capacity of 5,000 units per annum.

“We have sold around 75 units of the KUV 100 since January. There was a delay of around four months in obtaining approval for the country’s first motor vehicle manufacturing bond with a globally renowned vehicle manufacturer,” Welgama said, adding that there had been few pioneering initiatives in the motor industry such as the Upali Motor Company (UMC) which assembled around 500 Italian origin Fiat cars in the 1970s.

However, he said great initiatives of this nature disappeared with the demise of Upali Wijewardene due to the absence of direct collaboration with a globally acclaimed manufacturer.

Mahindra Ideal Lanka has localised four components such as battery, tyre, seat and exhaust. The plant is expected to provide 200 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the next two years and roll out a slew of products over the next three years.

“Our collaboration for around 11 years with Mahindra Group has enabled us to sell over 100,000 cars. Sri Lanka has the expertise with engineering prowess that could match global standards. We need to recognise and support skilled people to gain global recognition with more R and D facilities and investments,” Welgama said.