Suzuki Motor Corporation, the parent company of Maruti 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.
This could pave the way for Toyota and Suzuki to launch the new generation electric vehicles (EV) to the Indian market. Toyota, which unveiled the concept bZ (beyond Zero) on April 19, is yet to announced its India plans.
Both the Japanese companies have lagged behind in the EV segment in India even as their rivals like Tata Motors, Hyundai, MG Motor, and even Mahindra & Mahindra that has struggled of late, have raced ahead. While Maruti Suzuki and Toyota are yet to launch their first EV in India, Tata Motors has grabbed the pole position in the EV segment with a share of more than 50 percent.
As per Toyota’s latest announcements, the company is aiming to have 70 electrified models by 2025. These will be hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
This would include 15 BEVs, half of which will be based on the bZ models by 2025. Toyota claims that these BEVs will have ‘practical cruise range with open and freestyle interior and uniquely designed exterior. Development of the Toyota bZ series is based on BEV-dedicated platforms that can be used with multiple variations in terms of size and design.
Along with Suzuki, Toyota will work with China’s BYD and Japan’s Daihatsu and Subaru for the bZ series. China, the US and Europe are the primary markets for this new series of EVs, Toyota noted in a statement.
Sales of four-wheeled EVs jumped in India in FY21, the impact of the pandemic notwithstanding. The segment saw an estimated 5,500-6,000 sales last financial year which would be a jump of 60-75 percent compared to FY20 when the segment saw sales of 3,400 units.
Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest carmaker, had committed to commercially launch its first fully electric car in 2020. Suzuki’s tie up with Toyota was to speed up development of EV as well hybrid vehicle technology. Maruti Suzuki, which started road testing 50 BEVs in 2018, is yet to firm up plans of entering the EV space.
The Delhi-based company has refrained from entering the EV segment till now because of the steep end-price of the EV because of the prevailing battery cost. An EV costs nearly double of a petrol variant of the same model. For instance, a petrol Tata Nexon costs Rs 7.09 lakh while the electric version of the same SUV costs Rs 14 lakh, both prices ex-showroom, Delhi.
Maruti also blames the poor state of charging infrastructure in the country and the high level of drive range anxiety for its slower approach towards the EV switch.
As per the current arrangement between Suzuki and Toyota in India, Toyota sells rebranded models of Suzuki - Vitara Brezza and Baleno - which are then sold through its own showrooms as Urban Cruiser and Glanza. While Maruti Suzuki has a retail market share of 49 percent Toyota has a share of 3 percent in India.