Maruti Suzuki has finally started working on its first ever proper hybrid vehicle. The development is expected to be happen in collaboration with Toyota as per the partnership agreement between the two Japanese automakers.
The Indian government has been pushing for making the auto market conducive for full electric cars by offering incentives (subsidies and tax discounts) but the automakers, especially the Japanese players, have been lobbying heavily to include hybrid vehicles too in the incentive schemes. With a shift in the government’s stance favoring hybrid vehicles as well, Maruti is out in full swing to come up with a suitable product.
The automaker is planning to localize most of the critical components of the hybrid platform including Li-ion battery pack. The Suzuki-Denso-Toshiba JV battery plant is currently coming up in Gujarat to support locally manufactured hybrid and electric vehicles from both Maruti Suzuki and Toyota.
Speaking to Livemint, Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., stated that the company is trying to collaborate with Toyota in pushing the hybrid system nationwide provided there is support from the government (in terms of tax cuts and subsidies). It is not clear as to which is the car. There is a high chance it is the new Swift Hybrid, which has already been launched outside India.
From the government’s side, the ministry of road transport and highways has recommended a cut in GST for hybrid cars. In addition to that, the department of heavy industries has asked for incentives for 10,000 hybrid cars as a part of second phase implementation of FAME (Faster Adoption of Manufacturing of hybrid and Electric vehicles) scheme. It is also being reported that the prime minister’s office is considering incentives for local manufacture of Li-ion batteries to be used for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Government’s promotion of hybrid vehicles in short term has the potential to achieve significant reduction in pollution and oil imports. It would also give OEMs enough time to develop electric vehicle technologies and solutions that are suitable for India.