Honda is not the only company that will launch hybrids instead of electric cars in India. The country’s largest car maker Maruti is also said to be focusing on hybrid cars for the Indian market rather than electric vehicles, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
The report says that the reasons for Maruti Suzuki to opt for hybrids rather than electric vehicles has to do with,
1. Suzuki’s lack of expertise in the field of EVs. Suzuki does not have a single electric vehicle on the road though it has shown concepts in the past.
2. Poor electric infrastructure is the reality of India. Despite the government’s ambitious announcements to make all vehicles run on electric power by 2030, there are still parts of India where even electricity is not available, leave alone charging outlets.
3. Electric cars are still costly as battery costs haven’t gone down yet. Moreover, India is a very cost sensitive market and Suzuki is a mass market player selling mainly to budget car buyers.
For the next year years upto say 2020, Maruti Suzuki may produce more hybrid cars that offer the twin benefits of high fuel efficiency and low emissions without having to run fully on batteries. After 2020, Maruti Suzuki may start introducing electric cars if the charging infrastructure improves and cost of batteries come down.
Already, Suzuki, Toyota and Denso (A Toyota owned parts company) are in a tie-up to produce lithium ion batteries. Toyota and Suzuki are also working together to develop new hybrid and electric vehicles. Suzuki also sells two mild hybrid diesel cars in India – the Ciaz and Ertiga.
A senior Maruti executive has been quoted saying this about why his company is not yet betting big on electric vehicles,
When CNG was asked to be fitted in cars, there was no parallel development of supporting infrastructure. Even today, despite there being demand for such cars, CNG fuel stations are far less than required. What guarantee is there that such a thing will not be repeated for electric vehicles?. It’s all about whether the charging stations are ready so that there is no range anxiety. If you start running the EVs of today which run for 100kms (on a full charge) in stop-go traffic like in Delhi, the range will come down. And when you are sitting behind the wheel and see the charge level coming down and there is still 30 kms of travel, the driver has no clue what is to be done next.