As demand surges and rivals power ahead, Maruti Suzuki is yet to make any significant announcement with regard to the launch of electric vehicles, despite overshooting its earlier launch deadline.
The Delhi-based car market leader started testing 50 modified battery-powered Wagon Rs across the country in late 2018. This was also when Maruti committed to commercially launch its first fully electric vehicle in India in 2020.
The maker of popular cars such as the Baleno and Swift, commanding nearly 50 percent market share in the passenger vehicle segment in India, is depending on parent Suzuki Motor Corporation and its alliance with Toyota Motor Corporation to develop EVs.
Responding to a question from Moneycontrol, Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director and CEO, Maruti Suzuki India, said: “We have an alliance with Toyota and we are collaborating for developing an EV for the future. But it will not be a main product because the market itself is not too big for EVs, (therefore) it will take time, that is our understanding. We (Maruti Suzuki) are continuing to develop EVs also.”
Suzuki will become one of four partners of Toyota to help develop a new range of electric vehicles based on a new concept it showcased at the Shanghai Auto Show. Toyota unveiled the EV concept bZ (beyond Zero) on April 19 and the Japanese behemoth announced partnerships with three other companies, BYD, Daihatsu and Subaru for the EVs.
“In the future we are expecting an EV in the market. But it takes time compared to a developed country. We are developing something with the parent company for the future. Currently we need more fuel-efficient vehicles”, Ayukawa added.
Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19, sales of electric passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs and vans) during FY21 recorded a jump of 53 percent. As per the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, a total of 4,588 electric four-wheelers were sold in FY21 as against 3,000 in FY20.
In just 14 months, the electric Nexon by Tata Motors clocked sales of 4,000 units, becoming the largest selling model in the segment. The electric version of the Altroz is expected before the end of 2022.
Hyundai is working on launching a sub-Rs 15 lakh electric car in the coming period while Mahindra & Mahindra is preparing to launch the electric version of the KUV100 this year, followed by the electric version of the XUV300 next year.
The underdeveloped status of charging infrastructure, low drive range, dependence on China for lithium-ion cells and high cost of acquisition is preventing carmakers from going all out in the EV segment. This is despite incentives rolled out by States and the Central government to promote adoption of EVs.“EV tech is also dependent on imported raw material, which is lithium-ion. Everybody knows where the lithium comes from and who controls it. We have to keep that in mind also...,” said RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India.