After a long wait, the Citroen C5 Aircross was finally launched in India on 7 April, with introductory prices starting at Rs 29.90 lakh (ex-showroom). Marking the company's debut in the Indian market, the Citroen C5 Aircross is available with both petrol and diesel engine options abroad, but in India, is offered as a diesel-only model, with a sole engine option. Additionally, there's also a plug-in hybrid version on sale overseas; a model more in line with today's times as the focus on electrification intensifies. However, the Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid is not on the cards for India in the foreseeable future, the company has confirmed.
On the sidelines of the launch of the C5 Aircross, Saurabh Vatsa, Senior Director, Marketing & Corporate Communications at CitroÃ«n India, highlighted the reason why the carmaker has chosen not to introduce the plug-in hybrid version of the SUV in India.
"Yes, we have the Citroen C5 Aircross plug-in hybrid in our portfolio internationally, and we do sell it overseas. However, there are no special incentives that the government is providing for vehicles with hybrid powertrains in India, and bringing a hybrid powertrain would add that much more cost, and consequently add to the price of the vehicle. If the government decides to support hybridisation across platforms for all the OEMs in India, we'll be happy to bring this to India because this is already available to us internationally", said Vatsa, in response to a query from Tech2.
With governments across the globe rolling out incentives for pure-electric models, carmakers are increasingly turning their attention to producing battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
In India, the FAME II scheme " meant to promote electric mobility " does offer a subsidy for strong hybrids, but it is limited to a mere Rs 13,000, and only vehicles with an ex-showroom cost of Rs 15 lakh or less are eligible for it. PHEVs that cost more fall in the same tax slab as luxury cars, with the total tax incidence on hybrid vehicles amounting to 43 percent (including GST). This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Even overseas, the hybrid version of the C5 Aircross costs considerably more than the top-spec diesel model, and given the prevailing situation in India, the C5 Aircross Hybrid's price would be closer to the Rs 40 lakh mark, a significantly higher price point at which it would end up facing competition from even some luxury SUVs.
The Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid sold abroad pairs a 180 hp, 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 109 hp electric motor that draws power from a 13.2 kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined power output is rated at 222 hp and 320 Nm of torque, and the range in electric-only mode is rated at 55 kilometres on the WLTP cycle. Charging time is pegged at two hours with a 32 A wall box and an optional 7.4 kW charger.
For now, Citroen India is focusing on rolling out its first model under the C-Cubed programme. Understood to be a sub-four-metre SUV, this new Citroen offering " the first among several made-in-India, made-for-India models from the company " will have over 90 percent local content and will be priced competitively. Expect to see this new Citroen compact SUV make its debut sometime later this year, with the market launch likely early in 2022.