New Delhi: By 2025, Maruti Suzuki plans to introduce its first electric vehicle in India. It aspires to be the market leader in the electric four-wheeler market, which is now dominated by Tata Motors.
Maruti Suzuki may be a bit late to the EV league in India, but when it comes in 2025, it intends to make a huge splash. India’s top automaker is yet to introduce an electric vehicle for the Indian market. The company has stated that it wants its electric vehicles to be inexpensive enough to acquire market share. However, delivering an inexpensive EV to India remains a hurdle, as the automaker stated that launching an electric car under the ten lakh rupee mark is challenging.
Hisashi Takeuchi, Managing Director and CEO at Maruti Suzuki India Limited, recently said, “What I can tell is that it’s really difficult to have a cost-competitive and less expensive EV because of the cost of a battery.”
The high cost of electric cars in India, particularly in the four-wheeler segment, has been one of the main deal-breakers for the sector. This is due to a variety of factors. One of them, as Takeuchi points out, is the expense of the battery. The Tata Tigor EV is the most cheap electric four-wheeler available in India today. The Tigor EV has a starting price of Rs. 12.24 lakh in India (ex-showroom).
Maruti has been playing the wait-and-see game in the electric vehicle industry recently. The corporation has been hesitant to join on the electric vehicle bandwagon. Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, RC Bhargava, had previously stated, “Maruti Suzuki is the leader in the passenger vehicle industry, and it fully intends to have leadership in EVs. But it is important to understand EV penetration will only happen in Indian when conditions become such that consumers can buy it.” With a per capita income of roughly 1.50 lakh, Bhargava stated, it is impossible for EVs to reach the broad market Maruti wants to see.
Suzuki’s investment of over 150 billion yen (around Rs. 10,445 crore) in local production of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and BEV batteries in Gujarat has influenced Maruti’s decision to enter the EV industry. According to Takeuchi, “The investment this time is at Suzuki Motor Gujarat plant but that does not mean that we will not produce EVs in Maruti Suzuki’s plants…we have to produce in every factory over Maruti Suzuki as well as Suzuki Motor Gujarat (SMG) once EV becomes popular in India.”
Maruti Suzuki had previously tested an electric vehicle based on its WagonR with plans to launch in 2020, but decided against a commercial launch for personal use due to a lack of infrastructure and government support, and has maintained that selling affordable EVs at mass scale would be difficult at current prices.
Tata Motors tops the electric passenger car sector in India, according to FADA, with 15,198 Nexon EVs and Tigor EVs sales in the previous fiscal year. It controls more than 85% of the market. In FY 2021-22, Indians purchased 17,802 electric four-wheelers, a threefold increase over the 4,984 units purchased in FY21.