Maruti Suzuki’s managing director Kenichi Ayukawa has just said that the next generation versions of Maruti cars will all have an electric motor in some kind. What this this means, the next-generation versions of popular Maruti cars such as the Swift, Dzire, Baleno, Vitara Brezza and even the likes of the Alto and WagonR will either use hybrid power or go full-electric. This change will happen before 2030, a year that the Indian government has set as a deadline for drastically increasing the number of electric vehicles in the country.
The next-generation Swift, Baleno, Brezza, Dzire and other Maruti cars are likely to have one of these three options: Full-hybrid, mild-hybrid or full electric. What this also means is that the internal combustion engine – currently available in petrol, diesel, LPG and CNG forms, will become a hybrid by including an electric motor, or will completely make way for full-electric motors that use batteries as fuel. In fact, some of Maruti Suzuki’s existing cars such as the Ciaz and Ertiga are already available as diesel-mild hybrids.
Mild-hybrids and full-hybrids increase the prices of cars significantly as the GST has hiked taxes on hybrid cars. On the other hand, electric cars command the lowest tax: 12 % under GST. The lower taxation on electric cars is meant to be an incentive for car makers to build full-electric vehicles. However, the cost of lithium ion batteries, which power electric cars, is still prohibitively high for use in mass-market cars.
Moreover, electric vehicle battery charging infrastructure is not yet widely available in India. Only when both these hurdles are overcome with full-electric cars really take off in India. Until then, hybrids may be the bridge technology that offers the best of both worlds – good fuel efficiency and lower emissions, at an affordable price. The Indian government is already working on creating electric car charging infrastructure in India’s bigger cities.