The Hyundai Kona Electric SUV. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ANINDITO MUKHERJEE
The Hyundai Kona Electric SUV. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ANINDITO MUKHERJEE

Mumbai — Motorists in India, home to some of the world’s most polluted cities, can now buy a fully-fledged electric car after Hyundai unveiled a model that can travel 452km on one charge.

The Kona Electric SUV will cost $36,000 — more than three times the price of the cheapest combustion-engine SUV and more than eight times the price of a regular saloon car.

However, its improved range will address one of the major concerns among customers in India, where there is a shortage of charging stations, Hyundai Motors MD SS Kim told the Press Trust of India.

India is forecast to become the world’s most populous nation within a decade, and although, last week, the government unveiled new tax incentives, manufacturers say that there is no clear roadmap to get more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads.

The market share of EVs is now just 0.06%, compared with 39% in Norway, according to government figures cited by Bloomberg News. “We think more can be done by the government to accelerate adoption of EVs in India,” Kim said.

Local firms Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra previously launched EVs, but only with limited ranges or not for commercial sale.

Currently, there are fewer than 7,000 on India’s roads, many of which are imported. In China by contrast, 455,571 EVs were sold in the first half of 2019 alone.

India is home to 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, according to Greenpeace, with industrial emissions, car fumes and smoke from burning crops creating a toxic cocktail.

Poisonous air killed 1.24-million Indians in 2017, according to a study published last year by Lancet Planetary Health, which said tens of millions of people face serious health risks.

India currently generates about two-thirds of its electricity with coal and gas, making it the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.