Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), India’s largest carmaker, on Thursday said it would most likely launch an electric vehicle in India by 2020, but sought intervention from the government for the commercial success of such a rollout.
Speaking at the year-end company meeting in New Delhi, MSIL chairman R C Bhargava said government policy and intervention on incentivising the rollout of electric vehicles would be important to keep prices down and make the use of such vehicles by customers a commercial proposition.
Last month, Toyota and Suzuki signed a memorandum of understanding which will see the two companies working together to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in the Indian market by 2020 (See: Suzuki, Toyota tie up to make, sell electric vehicles in India by 2020).
Bhargava said though the MoU had been signed by the two Japanese automobile giants, the modalities of the manufacture of the EVs were still to be worked out.
He said, ”The Toyota-Suzuki JV is beneficial to Maruti, as it will allow the company to provide electric vehicles for the Indian market. While Toyota and Suzuki have the technology for developing electric vehicles, Maruti doesn’t. This JV will help us bridge that gap and work towards a common goal of electrifying the Indian automobile industry”.
However, he stressed the EVs for India would be manufactured by MSIL domestically and the company would also sell and service these vehicles.
Bhargava later told BTVI in an interview that going forward the increase in the number of cars using fossil fuels will lead to an enormous rise in crude oil imports.
However, a shift towards EVs can reduce the crude oil dependence, as fossil fuels will be replaced with electricity that can be generated via solar or coal-fired power plants, Bhargava said.
The company will conduct a survey to find out the requirements of potential EV customers. The findings of the study will also give insights into the kind of government incentives that might be required to bring the cost of EVs down, he said.
MSIL’s target of rolling out the first EV by 2020 would be 10 years ahead of the target officially set by the government for introduction of electrically charged vehicles in India.
He said the success of the EVs would depend on meeting the customer aspirations and making it affordable. ”Any electric vehicle to be sold should be affordable and meet customer use criteria,” he said.
Affordability would be an important factor for the EVs. ”We have 75 per cent of small cars and to make a small electric car affordable would be a challenge,” he said.
Bhargava also stressed the need for creating infrastructure for the success of the EVs.
Included on the Toyota-Suzuki agenda will be engineering an ecosystem in which EVs can survive and Maruti intends to replicate that on Indian soil.
The central government envisions 100 per cent EVs for public mobility and 40 per cent for personal mobility by 2030.