Electric Wagon R in the making? Toyota-Suzuki plans to launch four new EVs by 2020-21

Under phase 2 of the FAME scheme, the government expects to see an eight-fold increase in the sale of EVs.

By BusinessToday.in  
Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Toyota-Suzuki alliance plans to launch a host of electric and hybrid vehicles to tap into the promising electric vehicles market in India. Under phase 2 of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which is expected to be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, the government expects to see an eight-fold increase in the sale of EVs.

According to The Economic Times, the two Japanese automakers have planned to ready four electrified models by 2020-21, which will be shared by both for the Indian market. Citing sources in the know, the report added that Maruti Suzuki, the local unit of Suzuki, is testing an electric version of the Wagon R, and is likely to share it with Toyota.

The Wagon R EV may even be showcased at the upcoming government-organised 'MOVE' summit in New Delhi on September 7-8 - India's first global summit on mobility. A prototype line for this has reportedly been put up at the automaker's Gurgaon plant, and about 50 vehicles are currently being tested in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

In addition, a range of hybrid options are likely to be shared between the two companies, including the Baleno, Vitara Brezza and Corolla. To remind you, in March, Toyota Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation had signed a basic agreement under which Suzuki would supply premium hatchback Baleno and compact SUV Brezza to Toyota, while the latter would supply Corolla to Suzuki.

According to the sources, while the Baleno and Brezza are likely to get a lithium-ion battery pack and 12-volt system, Wagon R EV is likely to be powered by the 72-volt system with a battery capacity of 10-25 KWH. The Corolla may also get the more advanced 72-volt system. This is expected to help improve the fuel efficiency of the hybrid vehicles by 5-45%.

They added that once the more stringent corporate average fuel economic rules are implemented in 2023, Suzuki and Toyota are likely to come out with better hybrid solutions for the Baleno and Brezza, ranging from 48 to 72 volts.

The development follows the MoU signed by the two Japanese players last November to manufacture and sell EVs in India by the turn of the decade. As per the deal, Toyota would provide the technical support while Suzuki would produce the vehicles and supply some to Toyota.

Given the government's push to promote EVs and the fact that lithium-ion batteries, which power EVs, are becoming cheaper - its cost has reportedly dropped over 70% in the past eight years - the time is ripe for car manufacturers to aggressively focus on electrified and hybrid vehicles. In fact, at a meeting of the committee on EVs last month, which was chaired by Expenditure Secretary AN Jha, the panel mulled a direct subsidy of up to Rs 1.4 lakh on EVs, including cars and two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Furthermore, efforts to make EVs more affordable for Indian buyers, by pushing local sourcing of parts and components, are also underway.

According to Gaurav Vangaal, senior analyst for forecasting at IHS Markit, the Toyota-Suzuki alliance was a marriage of equals at the right time - Maruti brings frugality, while Toyota brings future technology. "India needs latest technology that is frugal, cleaner, cost-effective, has potential to be exported," Vangaal told the daily. "This will not only reduce the import and, hence, economic burden, but also project Indian manufacturing at the global level. If successful, the alliance has the potential to tap the global market with a similar approach."

With PTI inputs

(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury)

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