Suzuki to seek Toyota's help to build small electric cars as Maruti plans 6 EVs
After shifting focus on SUVs, Maruti Suzuki's next big aim is the electric vehicle segment. The Japanese partner of the carmaker has recently revealed that it will launch as many as six electric cars for the Indian markets within this decade. Maruti's EV ambition will depend partially on its Japanese partner Suzuki Motor Corp. According to reports, Suzuki plans to borrow EV technology from Toyota Motor and implement them to build small electric cars. These small EVs will not only be part of its global portfolio, but is also believed to influence Maruti's first lot of electric cars for India too.
Toshihiro Suzuki, President of the Japanese carmaker, was quoted by news agency Reuters, saying, "So how to introduce this EV technology on small cars is something we need to work upon and share with Toyota." Toyota, the world's largest carmaker, has around five per cent stake in Suzuki. Threatened to be dethroned by Tesla as the number one carmaker, Toyota itself is planning to reboot its EV strategy to stay ahead of rivals. This eventually will help Suzuki too to develop its own EV roadmap. According to the carmaker it aims to develop an EV from scratch.
That Maruti Suzuki is getting serious about EVs was showcased at the recently concluded Auto Expo 2023. The carmaker unveiled its first-ever EV concept eVX, which is expected to hit production by 2025. India's largest car manufacturer, with more than 40 per cent market share, is the only among top five carmakers in India to not have ventured into EVs yet.
Watch: Maruti unveiled eVX EV Concept at Auto Expo 2023
Maruti's EV move comes at a time when the segment is at a crucial juncture of rapid growth with aim to become mainstream. Maruti's biggest rivals in India, Hyundai Motor and Tata Motors, have at least five electric vehicles between them. Tata Motors currently is the leader in passenger electric cars with more than 90 per cent market share. Mahindra and Mahindra, one of the largest carmakers in India, too has forayed into the EV business with the XUV400, and plans to launch another five within the next few years.
RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Limited, had earlier hinted that the carmaker will not join the EV bandwagon unless the business becomes viable enough for it. The company aims to sell at least 10,000 EVs a month eventually as volume is key to Maruti. “EVs are not going to be a large part of car sales, irrespective of what other manufacturers are saying or planning," Bhargava had said in June last year.
More recently, Bhargava said that Maruti's first electric car will not be for mass market. “In the beginning, they will be in the upper segment of the market. They are not going to come in the lower end initially. We hope to get good customer acceptance for these EVs as these have been carefully designed and made," he said.
Maruti Suzuki has been focussing more on alternative fuel so far. It is the leader in the CNG vehicles with more than 10 models on offer. It has also been working on ethanol-based models and biogas fuel cars too as part of its aim to reduce carbon footprint. EVs will add another key dimension to India's largest car manufacturer's roadmap ahead.