Maruti Suzuki Chairman has stated that he does not expect corona virus to have an issue with electric mobility segment
While electric vehicles (EVs) have generated significant interest among auto enthusiasts, India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki is yet to launch an EV in the market. In this space, rivals like Hyundai and Tata Motors have taken the lead with products such as Kona and Nexon EV. However, things could change in the future, as Maruti has confirmed that it is working on an all-electric model of its popular hatchback Wagon R.
Initially, Maruti WagonR Electric will be available only to fleet operators and taxi aggregators. RC Bhargava, chairman of Maruti Suzuki believes that Wagon R EV will fulfil the specific needs and requirements of taxi segment. He said that success of eco-friendly vehicles depends of three primary factors – acquisition cost, running costs and battery technology.
The shift to electric could take time, especially considering the current challenges facing the auto industry. Acquisition cost is a major constraint for customers, as current-gen EVs are quite expensive. Other key issues include lack of adequate battery charging infrastructure, range anxiety and the conventional preference for fossil fuel driven cars. There’s general resistance to every new technology in the initial stages, something that applies to EVs as well.
Maruti’s primary focus is currently on CNG and smart hybrids, which is in line with its commitment to develop environment-friendly cars. CNG and smart hybrids can work as effective alternatives till the time all-electric vehicles become the mainstay across the globe. As of now, Maruti offers factory-fitted CNG option for six of its products – Alto, WagonR, Eeco, Ertiga, Tour S and Super Carry. In FY 2019-20, the company created a new record of selling more than one million factory-spec CNG units.
Talking about Wagon R EV, there’s currently very little info about the car. It is expected that Maruti’s first electric car will be equipped with features such as digital instrument cluster, steering mounted controls, automatic air conditioning, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Details about the battery pack are not available, but it is expected that Wagon R electric will have a real world range of around 130 km on a full charge. To increase range, the car could be equipped with brake energy regeneration system. At times of deceleration, the kinetic energy will be converted to electric energy, which in turn will charge the batteries.
It is likely that Maruti will invest in building the required battery charging infrastructure prior to launching its first electric car. The company could also partner with third-party infrastructure providers. Along with the standard home charging unit, Wagon R EV could be offered with a DC fast charging option. Expected launch price is in the range of Rs 8 to 12 lakh. It is expected to reach showrooms of select cities in 2021.