Sentiment towards Chinese brands and products has witnessed a change in recent months, impacting strategies of Chinese automakers that were eyeing the Indian market with investments in the billions of dollars. Haima Automobile which was to launch in India in 2021 through a partnership with Bird Electric, has now postponed plans.
Sino-India relations are at the worst point in recent history due to the Galwan border skirmishes and the Coronavirus outbreak had already forced brands to rethink strategies to enter new markets and segments. Speaking to Economic Times in July, Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of Bird Group, said that the product design was supposed to be finalised earlier but the countrywide lockdown prevented managers from traveling between the countries. He further said that there would be clarity on the India-China relationship soon and they would be making substantial progress then. Photos Bhatia shared with EVW at the Expo showed Bird and Haima teams working to adapt the front and rear design of the EV1 for Indian tastes.
Economic Times provided an update last week on Bird Electric Mobility’s progress. It reported that Bird Electric confirmed that the Electric Car EV1 project had stalled due to COVID-19 but it was not shelved. Bird Electric Mobility and Haima Automobile Group for India were planning to sign a business agreement after the unlock but that has been postponed. A spokesperson said that an update on the project would come in Spring 2021 (March – June 2021) and that maximum localization was planned with minimum imports.
Haima New Energy partnered with India’s Bird Electric to launch electric cars and showcased the Haima Bird Electric EV1 at the Auto Expo 2020. The hatchback was presented in the left-hand drive version and measured 3,680 mm in length and 2,340 mm in wheelbase and had two options – a 20.42 kWh battery pack with a range of 200 km and 28.5 kWh battery with a 300 km range. The car is driven by an electric motor that makes 30 kW of power, can go up to a speed of 120 km/h while fully rechargeable in 9-11 hours. The company claims that the car will have the biggest boot in its segment and will only cost 60 paise per km to run.
At the Auto Expo, Ankur Bhatia said that Bird Electric was eyeing a FY2021 launch and a price range of Rs 10 lakh. Initially, the EV1 is expected to be brought in as CKD units and assembled at Bird’s Manesar plant. Bhatia also said that are looking to produce 5,000 electric cars in the first year and will have limited dealerships, concentrated mainly in North India.