The New Delhi Auto Expo 2018 showcased electric and other futuristic vehicles of all shapes and sizes. From the TVS Creon concept which, for the first time, signalled a concerted push into the segment by an established two-wheeler manufacturer to the Maruti E-survivor concept that is expected to form the basis of the market leader's foray into this area, or the Hyundai Kona SUV, tucked in a corner at the Korean carmaker's stall with which it wants to draw first blood, or Tata's and JBM's fully-electric buses, there was no lack of imagination. The industry is still in its infancy and with the government making a complete u-turn on the long-in-the-offing comprehensive EV policy, it is even more difficult to say how much longer it will take for the all-electric dream to become reality. But the models at the Expo gave us a glimpse into the future. Here's a peek into the ones that stood out.
Mahindra UDO and Atom
The UDO is a three-wheeled two-seater electric pod concept that takes a shot at solving the problem of congestion in urban centres. The Atom, with its minimalistic design, re-imagines last-mile connectivity for smart cities. Its onboard connectivity system can make seamless bookings and payments and provide real-time updates on the next train/bus/flight and also the nearest boarding points. A connected future on the go.
Electric cars need not be boring, frugal and drab, and the BMW i3s proves why. Its small, sassy, fast, and an attention magnet. Powered by an electric motor that produces 185 bhp power and 270 NM torque, it has a 33.2 Kwh battery pack that gives it a range of 280 kilometres. And it can sprint from 0-100 kph in under seven seconds. BMW says it is considering launching the model in India. It wont be cheap. But what the heck. If it were, we wouldnt be talking about it.
Tata Racemo Electric
This could be Indias answer to Elon Musk, at least as far as styling is concerned. The gull wing doors and low slung stance of Tata Racemo now gets an electric motor that can belt 200 bhp power and has a full range of 350 kilometres. The two-seater sports car is under four metres in length and has a ground clearance of 165 mm that makes it ideal for Indian roads. With plenty of other electric vehicles in its kitty - e-Tiago, Tigor, Magic, Iris EV and a 12-metre electric bus, Tata is sprinting ahead in this category.
Is it a car, a jeep or a toy? The market leaders foray into electric would be on the lines of this quirky beast. The concept is futuristic with autonomous driving capabilities that allow the driver to switch to manual mode at the touch of a button. Inside, it has a spherical monitor that displays vehicle status as well as road conditions; there is also a monitor to display information from online sources. If this is the Maruti of the future, it sure is exciting.
Honda FCX Clarity and Toyota FCV Plus
Beyond electric cars, a couple of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle concepts like Honda Clarity and Toyota FCV Plus were also displayed. The Clarity has a range of 750 km and is powered by a motor that can deliver up to 174 PS power and 300 Nm torque. The Toyota FCV Plus looks straight out of a science fiction movie with its gaming console-like steering wheel and no dashboard. It can also be used to generate electricity for household appliances.
In a way, the Creon is the i3s of scooters. Capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 kph in 5.1 seconds, it has a range of 80 km and takes just an hour for 80 per cent charging. It is powered by three lithium-ion batteries which combine to produce up to 12 kW power. The feature list of the scooter of the future is exhaustive -- cloud connectivity, three riding modes, regenerative braking capabilities, park assist, anti-theft features, GPS navigation. and geo-fencing. TVS, though, wont say when it would hit the streets.