Maruti aims to launch 'affordable' EVs from Suzuki stable by 2020

Maruti Suzuki, India's largest carmaker, will start making its first affordable electric vehicles by 2020 based on technology from parent Suzuki Motor, ahead of products developed in partnership with Toyota, The Economic Times reports.

The company and its parent are focusing on in-house capabilities but are also looking for partners to put in place the ecosystem for electric vehicles, Maruti Suzuki managing director and chief executive Kenichi Ayukawa told ET in an interview. The Japanese carmaker will not rely solely on its partner Toyota's expertise to build EVs from the ground up.

"There is an MoU (memorandum of understanding) for technical support from Toyota to Suzuki Motor on EVs," Ayukawa said. "In addition, Suzuki is also working on its own EV technology development. From these combined efforts, we will see EVs getting launched in India in 2020 and beyond."

Maruti Suzuki executives said its first EVs will be based on Suzuki's own technology. EVs from the collaboration with Toyota will come in after that. Suzuki concluded a pact with Toyota in November to launch electric vehicles in India, also around the turn of the decade.

Ayukawa did not specify details of the segment in which the Maruti Suzuki EV will be introduced. But he emphasised that a detailed market survey is being conducted.

Maruti Suzuki is likely to have an electric vehicle with a power output of 25 to 35 kilowatts per hour, suitable for the compact car segment, and possibly priced below Rs10 lakh, according to ET citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The company is looking for collaborations in the areas of materials handling, battery recycling and reuse besides charging infrastructure. "A comprehensive ecosystem has to be established," Ayukawa said. This will include "component manufacturing, material arrangement ... there is the safety aspect ... recycling, reusing (of batteries) ... that is very difficult, not easy work."

"We have to improve electrification of vehicles, that is not only the pure electric vehicles but also other alternatives," Ayukawa said. "We have to try to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles and reduce pollution... I think hybrid is a very important technology (to address both concerns)."

Suzuki will make electric vehicles for the Indian market and supply some to Toyota as part of their pact. Toyota will provide technical support to the venture. They will also examine the establishment of charging infrastructure, training of after-sales service personnel and systems for appropriate treatment of end-of-life batteries (See: Maruti eyeing lithium suppliers as it speeds up EV plans).