Since 2009, there has been a real a surge for hybrid vehicles in Mauritius. From a total of 43 in 2009 to 9,067 (September 2018), we see that more and more hybrid cars are popping up in our small island. Are hybrid vehicles becoming the way forward and represent the epitome of twenty-first century travel?
Globally, car manufacturers from US to Japan are designing more and more hybrid models seeing the rise in demand. In Mauritius, hybrids have started showing growth since 2009. Both new and second-hand cars are gaining much momentum. However, according to latest statistics from National Transport Authority, it can be observed that second-hand cars are much more in demand than new ones. The numbers of hybrid new cars fluctuate. For example, in 2009, there were only seven new hybrid cars and it reached 119 in 2018. The peak was in 2017 where the number reached was 127. But this is not the case with second-hand exported cars. For instance, in 2009, there were only 36 imported ones on our roads but in 2018, the number increased to 2,542.
Additionally, according to statistics 2018, the most preferred make for the period 2009 to September 2018 includes: Honda (5,605) and Toyota (3,132). Most of the Honda brand (5,565) are second-hand imported vehicles. Concerning new hybrid cars, we see that consumers prefer Toyota the most.
According to Sachin Sooknah, Market Intelligence & Planning Officer at Toyota Mauritius, we can observe a global trend, that is moving towards more economical and ecological solutions when it comes to car drivetrains. “TOYOTA has been the pioneer in hybrid technologies. The hybrid market will grow in the future with upcoming new technologies and advancements in electric engines. Mauritius might take some time, but will eventually have to catch up with the international inclination.”
He further adds that “we can already see many hybrid cars being imported as second-hand or reconditioned vehicles. The prospect is here. As to having the most hybrid cars as a country, we must consider the size of our country, which is small compared to our neighbouring countries.”
Hybrid Cars: What you need to know?
Performance Engineer at Rolls- Royce, Abhishek Sadaphul explains that hybrid cars are subdivided into different categories from fuel and electric cars but also fully electric powered cars. “A hybrid car consists of an electric generator, which always gets recharged mainly during situations that you are either accelerating or decelerating. This generator then contributes to adding power to the car to further propel it. In simple words, no energy is wasted in the car. The energy that is generated during this manoeuvre is not dissipated as put into useful work.”
The difference with a fuel car is that this car would need a fuel source that requires to be combusted to produce useful energy to drive it, highlights the Performance Engineer. “This cycle is replaced by the hybrid take whereby the piston is driven by electric source instead of igniting the fuel. Nowadays we have also fully electric cars which do not require any power source. This difference in power source makes hybrid cars much more environmental friendly, they are usually expensive initially but cheaper in the long term since you would not require to put in petrol, which raises in price every six months.”
Similarly, Mrinal Teeluck, the General secretary of the Motor Vehicles Dealers Association (MVDA), delineates that there are different types of hybrids. “Plug-in hybrids (PHEV’S), also known as a plug-in hybrid, is a hybrid electric vehicle with rechargeable batteries that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external source of power, in our case, the CEB. A Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) combines a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric propulsion system (hybrid vehicle drivetrain). The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle or better performance but range of battery is very limited.”
For the latter, the Mauritian market is mostly functioning on the sale of imported second-hand cars.
The most common hybrid in Mauritius for second-hand cars include: Toyota Aqua, Honda Fit and Honda Vezel. For new cars, the most common is Toyota Prius C, which is a 1.5L hybrid and PRIUS 1.8L. The price range starts with the PRIUS C as from Rs 1,025,000.
According to Abhishek Sadaphul, the primary reason for using a hybrid car is to reduce the amount of liquid fuel you use. “The secondary reason is to be able to drive without emitting any pollution for relatively short distances. Ordinarily, this will save buyers money, as well as reducing damage to the environment. However, it’s important to remember that any savings you make (financial or environmental) will depend on the way in which you use your vehicle, and that the increased cost of buying a hybrid might outweigh the amount you save on fuel.”
Sachin Sooknah also elaborates along the same lines. “The fuel economy is the first thing we look at, but Hybrid cars also bring additional value, such as preserving the environment, lower strain on the thermal engine that leads to a longer life. Our Hybrid cars are also very quiet and comfortable, and come with all latest gadgets. Hybrid cars are a product of technological advancement after all.”
Javed Jauffur, Director of Prestige Auto, states that so far, he has obtained only positive feedback from his clients. For him, hybrid cars have tremendous potential and many people are willing to opt for hybrid cars. “Many clients have said that with only Rs 500 of petrol, they have travelled a lot. Hybrid drivers have been saving much more. Even if the price of hybrid is expensive, it is a long term investment.”
In the budget 2016-2017, the government came forward with several measures to give a boost to hybrid cars. Among the measures, there has been a decrease from 55 to 25 percent on a hybrid car below 1,600 cc and zero duty on electric cars of up to 180 KW while the adjustment factor used at customs in the determination of the import value of a second-hand car was lowered to 5%. There was also a review on registration and declaration of hybrid cars. These measures were highly welcomed but still, they are deemed as insufficient by dealers.
Mrinal Teeluck claims that Mauritius does not make any distinction between PHEV and HEV to grant incentives as opposed to most other countries. “As compared to other countries, we are far behind. There is a long way to go when it comes to incentives. The Government needs to review the incentives. We notice that a measure that is only applicable to new cars in all other countries is also granted to imported second-hand cars here. Unfortunately, we do not have any studies done to know our market share and how far ecological we are.”
Swaley Domun, Treasurer of the Association of Dealers in Imported Motor Vehicles, argues that the Government lacks a defined strategy so far. “The price of hybrid is quite expensive. The Government should come forward with measures that decrease the duty gradually so that it becomes affordable. Europe has put a target for a hybrid-led country by 2025. For Mauritius, it will be obviously after that.”
Karrim Abbasakoor : “It is a long term investment”
Karrim Abbasakoor, Managing Director of Car Club and Car Cub Engineering Ltd, recalls that having a hybrid means a long term investment. “Hybrid cars have known an immense growth over the past years. It is indeed a cost saving vehicle in the long run. For example, if a driver drives around 20,000 km per year, he can save Rs 1.50 per kilometre, on a yearly basis, he can easily save between Rs 30,000 - Rs 40,000. In five years, the savings can reach up to Rs 200,000. This is a real saving.”
Concerning maintenance, Karrim underlines that for a hybrid car, the maintenance is almost the same as normal vehicles but with some hybrid cars, there is need for a specific type of lubricant. When questioned about the battery life, he says, “It is true that the battery is expensive but it has a good lifetime span. For instance, the battery can last 250,000 km to 300,000 km. So, if you are saving so much, you can obviously afford to change the battery if ever there is an issue.”
He believes that the Government should encourage the Mauritian to opt for hybrid. “We had a good start when it comes to incentives. Tax free can make a difference. Mauritius should target to become a country with 40% of cars to be hybrid. It is indeed an achievable target.”
Pawankumar Ancharaz : “I am spending 35% to 45% less”
Pawankumar Ancharaz has a Toyota Aqua since march 2018. Before, he was reluctant to buy one but now he has noticed he is spending 35% to 45% less. “In terms of economy, its good. I thought it would be a slow car but it’s quite punchy when you press on the accelerator. It is useful for people who drives in traffic jam. It is also highly recommended for people who do not wish to drive above 140km/h.”
Avish Ramgoolam : “Maintenance is not that expensive”
Avish Ramgoolam has three hybrid cars and has till now four types of hybrid cars. He has a Toyota Aqua, Honda Vezel and a Honda Insight. He has been using hybrid since 2013. He believes that hybrid saves a lot, ecological and maintenance is not that expensive as well.