Maruti Suzuki will launch the WagonR Electric hatchback in 2020. The car has already begun testing on Indian roads with a batch of 50 units. Shashank Srivastava, the executive director of sales and marketing at Maruti Suzuki, confirmed this development. The Maruti WagonR Electric will be the latest variant of the hatchback, which was launched earlier this year in a brand new form factor and platform. The all-new WagonR is already available with petrol and CNG-Petrol dual fuel trims. Later this year, LPG variants of the car will also be made available in many parts of India.
Meanwhile, here’s what the Maruti executive director told CNBC-TV18 when asked about the projected demand for the WagonR Electric,
We will launch electric vehicles in 2020. Currently, we have 50 such vehicles which are tested across the country in different terrains. We are not so sure (about the demand for electric vehicles) and the reason is that it all depends on the battery cost which is very high in electric vehicle; about 50-60 percent of the car cost is the battery and battery cost currently is extremely high. Therefore, we expect the price of EV will be significantly high and Indian consumer is price sensitive and so we will have to see, it’s not very clear, how much the demand will be.
The WagonR Electric is likely to be priced close to Rs. 10 lakhs or even higher thanks to the high cost of batteries. The car is likely to deliver a range of around 150 kilometers per charge, making it primarily a city car. This range should be enough for a lot of city car users and also cab operators who generally have sufficient time to recharge the car during the day. Already, many cab operators have begun inducting the Mahindra eVerito and Tata Tigor Electric compact sedans into their intra-city fleets. It’ll be a while though before the likes of Ola and Uber will induct electric cars into their fleets in a big way as range anxiety is still a big problem in electric cars. Only when electric cars consistently begin delivering 250-300 Kms of range per charge will they be accepted across both private car buyer and cab fleets in a big way.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has already called tenders to set up 1,000 electric vehicle charging points across the country, and these charging points will be expanded to 3,000 units shortly. The government is also giving tax breaks to electric cars through lower excise duty, zero road tax and registration charges, and also tax benefits on loans taken to purchase electric cars. All these measures are likely to make electric cars more affordable, and are meant to spur more car buyers to opt for them over petrol and diesel cars.