Amaan AhmedAugust 3, 2021 14:44:25 IST
Maruti Suzuki is in no hurry to introduce a number of electric vehicles in the Indian market. This was evident from a recent annual report which made it clear that while emissions must be reduced immediately and the carbon footprint minimized, India’s largest carmaker will not see buyers switching to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the near future. In fact, the company will temporarily introduce alternative solutions until BEV engines are no longer as expensive as they are today – this is similar to Toyota, with which Suzuki is partnering globally.
Why isn’t Maruti Suzuki making electric cars right now?
Currently, Maruti Suzuki’s portfolio does not include BEV and is unlikely to add it to its portfolio in the near future, and a recent report suggests that the first fully electric model will not be ready for the next three years.
In the annual report, Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava said that while carmakers worldwide are committed to phasing out internal combustion engines (ICE) for BEVs as part of “ambitious” plans, Maruti Suzuki’s electrification strategy must be “economical” and infrastructure conditions in the country. “
Bhargava highlights the problems of large-scale deployment of BEV equipment, highlighting significantly lower revenues, BEV’s current high costs and limited charging infrastructure in the country.
“India’s per capita income is only about $ 2,000, about five per cent in Europe and Japan. This reduces the ability of a large number of people to buy expensive cars. Unfortunately, current technology results in electric cars being manufactured at a much higher price than traditional cars. This, together with the lack of charging infrastructure, makes it very difficult to sell electric cars to people who can only afford small cars, ”says Bhargava.
In addition, Bhargava notes that cars priced at more than 15 million rubles currently account for only five percent of Indian passenger car sales, and this would mean that approval for electric vehicles would be limited to a few. Interestingly, almost all Electric Vehicles sold in India today — with the exception of entry-level versions of Tata Nexon — cost much more than 15 million rubles.
What does Maruti Suzuki suggest as an alternative?
While Maruti Suzuki acknowledges that battery costs will continue to fall and fall in the coming years, India’s largest carmaker is uncertain when BEVs will move from a brilliant idea to a practical reality, thereby seeking to strengthen compressed gas (CNG) and hybrid vehicles, which it believes will help reduce vehicle emissions. environmental impacts until BEV values are feasible.
“The use of CNG, especially in small cars, has proven to be very acceptable to customers. The government has recognized the importance of CNG as a fuel for cars and is working together to build the infrastructure that will allow CNG to be available in most parts of the country. Hybrid technology also significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and is also an area of work for engineers. Thus, these two technologies, together with biofuels, give the country a way to move towards the ultimate goal, zero emissions, ”Bhargava said.
Today, Maruti Suzuki offers mild hybrid engines for some of its popular models, such as the Ertiga, Baleno and Vitara Brezza. Even globally, Suzuki does not offer BEV in any market, and its electrified range consists only of hybrids, even in its home market in Japan.
What is Toyota’s connection to this?
In its annual report, Maruti Suzuki often mentions how it leverages Suzuki’s global alliance with Toyota to develop hybrid power solutions for future models. He also highlights hydrogen fuel cell technology for electric vehicles as an “interesting option” that should be “specifically considered to reduce dependence on lithium imports”.
This attitude is quite similar to that of Toyota, who considers a complete and rapid transition to BEV cars premature. The New York Times recently announced how Toyota is aggressively opposed to a full transition to BEVs, as it calls for hybrid vehicles — along with hydrogen-fueled electric cars — to be equally important in the future; Both vehicle technologies in which Toyota has invested heavily in recent years.
However, it should be noted that hybrids – although they are electrified vehicles – do not enjoy the same political advantages as BEVs in India. High taxation means two hybrids Toyota sells in India are prohibitively expensive — the Toyota Camry costs in some cities more than 50,000 rubles on the road, while the Toyota Vellfire MPV, nearly 1 billion rubles, is still a purely luxury choice.
By 2030, Toyota aims to sell 5.5 million electric vehicles, but it is estimated that BEV and FCEV will account for only one million. Its first mass-produced electric vehicle, the Toyota C-HR EV, was launched in China, but has received poor response, and its first electric SUV for the rest of the world market, the Toyota bZ4x, is not expected to be completed until 2022.
Although hydrogen is now being talked about as an alternative to fossil fuels, the reality is that BEVs move much faster than hydrogen FCEVs. Honda has pulled the plug from its Clarity FCEV overseas, and even in India, Hyundai has decided not to launch Nexo hydrogen – SUV (which has been warmly received in certain foreign markets) as it would not be possible for private buyers to “near the future”, a Money management report.
Does Maruti Suzuki make BEV at all?
Maruti Suzuki is Suzuki’s most important subsidiary worldwide and is a significant part of it medium-term electrification strategy was revealed a few months ago. According to the medium-term plan, Maruti Suzuki will focus on marketing the hybrid vehicles in its range and will also introduce a fully electric vehicle. As for BEV, Maruti Suzuki had announced 50 development prototypes based on the Japan-spec Wagon R, in 2018, but the production model is understood to remain for some time to come.
Suzuki, a joint venture with Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation, is also setting up India’s first lithium-ion battery production facility, which is said to be almost ready to start operations soon.
While CNG models are still relatively inexpensive, it remains to be seen how Maruti Suzuki will approach hybrid electric cars as they continue to be relatively high in price, which will prevent a change in India’s electricity policy support policy.
The fact that Suzuki does not have BEV in its global portfolio, and Toyota’s considered response to the move to BEV cars, also does not bode well for Maruti Suzuki. up to 10 BEV by 2025. Tata has already started all the other players on Nexon EV – which has grown quite popular in recent months – and Mahindra will also start an attack on electric vehicles starting next year Release of eXUV300 and eKUV100 models.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Maruti Suzuki’s cautious steps in electric vehicle mode will lead to other carmakers leaving it behind, or whether they will pay for themselves in the long run.