In line with its plan to introduce an electric vehicle in India by 2020, Maruti Suzuki has commenced testing of 50 WagonR electric prototypes in the country. The electric vehicle prototype fleet is based on the JDM Wagon R, engineered by Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan and manufactured by MSIL at it’s Gurugram factory.
The field testing campaign which was flagged off by Mr. CV Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engineering), MSIL, is aimed at collecting real-life usage data in different terrains and climatic conditions. The electric prototypes of Maruti WagonR are expected to ply across the country and clock extensive mileage to help Maruti engineers gather deep insights that will be used to validate electric vehicles for India.
The testing campaign is also aimed at gathering customer perspectives and creating electric vehicle awareness among public. The company has not revealed any technical specifications of the prototype but considering that it is based on Wagon R platform, we can expect a compact and cost-effective electric powertrain. This also indicates that Maruti’s first production-ready electric vehicle for India could be a Wagon R or a new model very closely related to it.
Testing 50 prototypes in different parts of the country for over a year would provide the automaker with extensive set of data. This testing campaign is an important exercise for Maruti as it will help in understanding the unique challenges the electric vehicle technology faces in the country. It would also help the company arrive at an optimum EV range taking into account practicality and affordability.
It is to be noted that rivals Tata Motors and Mahindra already have market-ready electric vehicles at their disposal and are waiting for a conducive market environment (clear government policies, incentives, customer acceptance, charging infrastructure, etc,.).
Other international OEMS are also actively exploring or developing electric vehicles that would suit the Indian market. Maruti, being the largest passenger car maker in the country by a fair margin, would have significant influence in shaping up the nascent electric vehicle market.