Explained: The technology behind the 32kmpl Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL

While the Jimny, along with the new Ignis and Vitara Brezza hogged the limelight at Maruti Suzuki pavilion at the Auto Expo 2020, there was a less glamorous but rather interesting car on display: the Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL.

This particular Swift is neither an electric, nor a plug-in hybrid. Unlike the Baleno and Ertiga, it is not a mild hybrid either. But it is a hybrid, a strong hybrid that delivers a stunning 32 kmpl in the Japanese test cycle.

For reference, the current regular Swift petrol delivers 21.21 kmpl while the diesel tops out at 28 kmpl. So we are talking about Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL returning 50% more miles per litre of petrol. Assuming per litre petrol cost of Rs. 72, the Swift hybrid can bring down the per km running costs from Rs. 3.4/km to just Rs. 2.25/km.

An interesting inclusion in Maruti Suzuki’s 17-model-strong Auto Expo 2020 line-up is the Japan-spec Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL. The Swift Hybrid on display shows the potential of electrification, with the headline number being a fuel economy of 32kpl on the Japanese test cycle.

Is that really possible? How does the Swift pull it off? To answer that question, we first need to look at the progression of electric motor technology.

The 48V Motor

Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL is powered by two sources: a 92hp/118Nm, 1242cc, four-cylinder petrol engine paired to a 5-speed automated manual gearbox, and a 13.6hp/30Nm, 48V electric motor.

Over time, many of the cars functions such as pumps etc have come to be powered by electric motors. They were earlier powered by engine which was not very efficient. Initially, there was 6 volt motor doing the job which subsequently got upgraded to a 12V motor. It’s the latter you will find under most hoods including the Maruti Suzuki’s mild hybrids such as Ertiga and Baleno.

While the motor helps increase the efficiency, its impact minimal at best.

In came the 48-volt motor, some time around 4 years back. Earlier available only with the hybrid versions of luxury cars, it has begun to make its way into mass produced cars as well. Unlike the many 12V motors which often uses the cars primary battery, the 48V motor uses a dedicated battery. So, what you have therefore is a much more powerful motor with a lot more stamina [battery power].

This allows the car to ‘coast’ for a short period of 30-40 seconds on electric power alone. So, when you are nearly a signal, and take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the engine shuts down letting you come to stop using electric power only. It is at this point that fuel savings are significant. Plus the start-stop too is much smoother. The 12V hybrids cannot do this.

Suzuki Swift Hybrid SL India Launch

If and when Maruti launches this strong Swift hybrid is anyone’s guess. Once the Maruti-Toyota lithium battery plant goes live and the Wagon R hits the roads, Maruti will have the necessary scale on the production side for the EV components. That would help it cost and price the Swift hybrid aggressively which basically points to the end of year 2021.