Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) discontinued the iconic Maruti 800 in 2010 as the hatchback could not meet the then-new emission norms and safety regulations. In the minds of Indian automotive enthusiasts, the ‘800’ holds a special place since it has got a strong nostalgia factor associated with it. We are sure that your family or someone close to your family might have had a Maruti 800 back in the day.
In its last iteration, the Maruti Suzuki 800 came with a 796cc MPFI three-cylinder petrol motor churning out just about 37bhp and 59Nm while mated to a 4-speed gearbox. The higher 5-speed variant made roughly 47bhp and 62Nm of torque. Clean examples of the car still find decent value in the used car market. On the other hand, the original SS80 generation has already become a collector’s item.
The current-gen Maruti Suzuki Alto BS6 fails to match the Maruti 800’s charm despite being its closest successor. This is purely due to the emotions surrounding the ‘800’ since the Alto is much more technically improved. Maruti Suzuki might never bring back the ‘800’ nameplate (at least in the foreseeable future), yet many Indians look forward to a modern-day avatar of the hatchback.
It has been a while since Pune-based EV specialist Hemank Dabhade started working on an all-electric Maruti 800 with his team at Northway Motorsport. The project, dubbed ‘Maruti 800 EV’, has reached its final stages and Hemank has documented the same (one of four parts) on his YouTube channel. Over the months, we have also shared Hemank’s other interesting projects such as the Chevrolet Beat EV and Honda Activa EV.
Northway Motorsport’s Maruti 800 modified Electric is essentially a two-seater RWD city car that promises ample performance and driving fun (watch the owner perform powerslides, thanks to 378 Nm torque, towards the end of the video below). Its real-world driving range is claimed to be about 150km on a full charge. This is purely a developmental or research project aimed to showcase the potential of electric powertrains in a familiar platform.
The four-part YouTube series gives a rough idea of what goes into making an electric vehicle. It covers how the stock powertrain is stripped out from the petrol-powered Maruti 800, alterations done to the donor chassis, electric powertrain packaging, minor hiccups along the way, cosmetic enhancements (new six-spoke rims, front grille, steering wheel, etc.) and more.
Episode 4 starts with a brief recap of the processes mentioned above. The main electronics, battery-pack (an extra set lies in the ‘frunk’) and their cooling systems are placed at the rear, in place of a bench seat. This is covered by a flat luggage floor. At the front, Northway Motorsport has installed a custom touchscreen panel based on a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. It incorporates real-time battery usage, motor and control temperature; output calibration and the basic drive modes: Forward, Neutral and Reverse.
The main highlight is the addition of HHA (synonymously used with ‘Hill-start Assist’ nowadays). It helps the car remain stationary on a downward slope until the accelerator pedal is pressed. Finally, Hemank does some powerslides in his Maruti 800 EV — proving that small RWDs can be fun irrespective of the powertrain type.