- Maruti Suzuki had earlier this year planned for the Wagon R EV.
- The first full-fledged Maruti Hybrid is to be unveiled this month.
- The technology will be achieved through their collaboration with Toyota for platform and technology sharing.
While most OEMs scramble to bring electric vehicles into their portfolio, India’s market leader, Maruti Suzuki, is taking a different route with petrol hybrids. Earlier this year, Maruti Suzuki went against the grain to shelve its upcoming Wagon R-based electric car, saying the component cost would not allow a competitive price point, effectively 60%. More than what you would pay for a standard Wagon R. Go ahead a few months, and through its partnership with Toyota, the brand is set to launch its first proper hybrid in the form of the Vitara, marking its renewed focus on hybrids.
In a recent report, C V Raman, Chief Technical Officer, Maruti Suzuki, while providing insights on Maruti-Suzuki’s future plans said that every new Maruti Suzuki launched in the next five to seven years will have some form or the other. There will be hybrid technology and there will be no pure petrol. Powertrain across the range. Adding to the insight, Raman said that the brand is currently evaluating the feasibility of petrol-electric hybrid power options for its entire lineup. Stating the need to democratize technology, as has been the brand mantra of Maruti.
Effectively, this direction seems to be the best in terms of long-term environmental impact, both pricing and penetration potential. Where EVs require significant infrastructure, hybrids use their ICE motors as generators to power the electric motor and typically use a smaller battery for shorter all-electric runs. This not only eliminates the need for infrastructure but also rapidly improves fuel efficiency to significantly reduce day-to-day running costs. Over time their onboard batteries will also be cheaper than the larger-capacity lithium-ion batteries on the BEV.
However, going down this path, too, will come with its fair share of challenges. Raman cites the current taxation structure for hybrids as a major demotivator for the adoption of this technology. At present, where EVs attract only 5 per cent tax, and hybrids pay full rental tax at 43 per cent.
Apart from the electric vehicle, there has been some speculation about the total carbon footprint in the process of manufacturing electric vehicles. In a country where coal is the primary source of energy, the energy required to run a significant percentage of electric vehicles is open to speculation.
While the brand is yet to completely nail down its EV plans with Maruti Suzuki expected to debut in 2025, the next few years will be crucial in defining the road map of India’s green mobility plans.