Maruti Suzuki’s EV Plans Still On Track, Despite Multiple Hurdles
A Suzuki WagonR on a production line at the company’s plant in Japan. Maruti Suzuki is currently testing a fleet of 50 prototype EVs based on the WagonR developed by Suzuki in Japan. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

Maruti Suzuki’s EV Plans Still On Track, Despite Multiple Hurdles

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Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., which plans to launch is first electric vehicle in the country in 2020, is finding costs associated with EVs as prohibitive for mass adoption besides charging infrastructure being a big issue, a senior company official said Sunday.

"It is going to be difficult to make (EVs) good value proposition immediately unless the cost comes down substantially," Maruti Suzuki India's Senior Executive Director (Engineering) CV Raman told Press Trust of India.

Speaking on how Maruti Suzuki’s EV plans are progressing, Raman said, “There is still testing going on. We are trying to understand the range, temperature, charging time.” India’s largest carmaker is currently testing a fleet of 50 prototype EVs based on the WagonR model platform developed by Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan.

According to Raman, there were three major issues at hand, as far as electric cars are concerned—cost, charging infrastructure and customer acceptance. Under current circumstances, a mass-market EV is likely to cost around two-and-a-half times more than the same vehicle type powered by a internal combustion engine, he added.

On charging infrastructure issues, Raman said, "As per our study, 60 percent of people don't have their own parking. There is no way they can do charging. They won't adopt." Even for fleet operators, Raman said at the current costs the EVs don't offer a viable alternative to a CNG or a diesel vehicle.

But Maruti Suzuki's EV plans are still on track, despite the hurdles, said Raman. "We are still working towards (launching it)," he said, adding that EV is a technology that needs to be looked at.

"Battery chemistry is changing, technology is changing. We have to work and make ourselves capable to do it. So, from an engineering point of view, we will continue to work on it and we won't stop, but whether that translates into a product or not is a different thing," he said.

The company has also reconciled to the fact that government support will not be forthcoming for promoting private usage of EVs.

Addressing shareholders last week at the company's annual general meeting, Maruti Suzuki’s Chairman RC Bhargava said, "The fact that FAME (II) scheme does not provide any incentive for private buying of EVs is a very clear signal that the government doesn't think that this segment is going to be at all important in the coming time."

Last year, Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki had said that the company has decided to launch EVs in India around 2020 in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation.

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