Over the years the Swift has gone through many interesting changes. First, it got a boot slapped on to its rear (Swift Dzire). Soon, that boot will be cut short in an all new avatar (Swift Dzire CS), and now, Suzuki Motor Corporation is planning to manufacture a hybrid version of the Swift in 2013.
The hybrid was first showcased at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009 and now the Swift plug-in (hybrid) will be launched with both an electric motor and a petrol engine in 2013, according to The Nikkei.
A hybrid car will use two or more power sources to run. The Swift can be classified as a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) as it combines a petrol engine and an electric motor.
The electric motor of the Swift hybrid has a maximum output of 73.8 bhp electric motor and gets its charge from a 2.66 kWh lithium-ion battery. So the car can run battery alone for a distance of 30.57 km (19 miles).
The petrol powered engine will be a 660 cc motor that will be extremely fuel efficient as well. Together (the electric & petrol motors), the Swift hybrid is expected to return a high mileage of 37.6 km/litre as per Japan’s JC08 cycle.
The Swift hybrid will likely cost 500,000 Yen (Rs.2,79,709) and will first be launched in the Japanese market. We expect the Swift hybrid to reach export markets by of soon after 2014.
In the Indian market, the Swift is selling like hot cakes clocking a sale of more than 12,000 units every month. The diesel model of the Swift accounts for more than half of the total Swift cars sold in the country (thanks to the steep rise in petrol prices).
A Swift hybrid does make sense for fuel conscious Indian buyers. However, it remains to be seen whether the Indian buyer is ready to pay more for hybrid technology in what is essentially just a Swift.
Honda launched the Civic hybrid in India at a price that was almost double that of the regular Civic petrol and it received a lukewarm response from buyers. However, when Honda substantially reduced the price of the car to push the sales, a handful of Civic hybrid cars were sold within a few days to some lucky buyers.
The Toyota Prius too is a good example of why a pricey hybrid is not an Indian buyer’s cup of tea. The Toyota Prius is a D segment sedan (priced between Rs. 27 – 29 lakh) and since it is imported as a CBU (Completely built unit), it is almost double the price of cars sold in its segment.
As the government will likely levy stricter emission norms and raise the bar for fuel efficiency, hybrids may pick up some traction among Indian auto makers by 2014-2015. In which case the Toyota Etios hybrid and Suzuki Swift hybrid will lock horns with each other (It will be an eco-friendly battle though!).