Maruti Wagon R electric launch postponed again, suggests new report

Maruti Suzuki is not launching the Maruti Wagon R electric this year as it had originally intended. It’s been over two years since the company flagged off the first prototypes, which were based on the JDM Suzuki Wagon R, on 9 October 2018, to gather data in preparation for the launch of its electric car. As per its statement on that day, the plan was to launch the first Maruti electric car in 2020.

According to a new report from economictimes.indiatimes.com, (ET Prime) Maruti Suzuki may have postponed the launch of its EV again. The report says that company officials had hinted an early 2021 launch at Auto Expo this year, marking the first delay but that timeline would also not be met, it adds.

The Maruti Wagon R electric will be targeted at fleet customers, and due to the health crisis in the nation, demand for shared mobility has significantly reduced. Employees switching to work-from-home mode has made matters worse for fleet operators like Ola and Uber. This could be the reason why Maruti Suzuki is not confident about releasing its EV before the shared mobility segment bounces back. According to Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Maruti Suzuki, annual fleet auto sales in India are at just over 2 lakh units and EVs account for only 5% of that number. However this is only bound to grow as shared mobility companies are looking to switch fleets to 100% electric cars in the future.

Even if there’s another delay, the Maruti Wagon R electric should be the biggest Make In India electric car launch next year. The upcoming Maruti electric car is currently in road trials, and here is everything we know about it:

Video: youtube.com/Rahul Choudhary

Maruti Suzuki is developing its own low-cost electric car on the platform of the Maruti Wagon R and testing prototypes to gear up for the commercial rollout next year. In September, we saw the Wagon R electric in a spy video Youtube user Rahul Choudhary posted. The footage confirmed that the Maruti Wagon R electric would feature a special LED rear cluster.

Maruti Suzuki is expected to start electric car production in 2021 eyeing a small sales volume initially to select customer groups. Sales may begin with fleet customers, like cab aggregators and government bodies (like EESL) and see the addition of individual customers for personal mobility a few months later.

Exterior design

Maruti Suzuki began testing the production Maruti Wagon R electric last year and since then we’ve come to know the changes in store.

The Maruti Wagon R electric will sport a split-design headlamp layout with projector units and will possibly include LED daytime running lights, a closed grille and a heavily designed bumper. The test mule was seen fitted with black alloy wheels that one gets in the Maruti Ignis. Maruti will also add unique LED detailing to the rear combination lamp, touches it would hope to provide adequate visual distinction from the petrol car.

Maruti previewed the design language of its next generation line of vehicles using the ‘Futuro-E’ concept at the 2020 Auto Expo. It must be noted that the company has displayed several electrified vehicles in the previous editions of the show, including the Eeco ‘Charge’ and the SX4 Hybrid though not intended for customers. None of these concepts have a direct connection to the Wagon R.

Interior

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R EV Interior Spied
The Maruti Wagon R electric will feature the SmartPlay Studio infotainment system and an automatic AC.

The interior of the Maruti Wagon R electric (identified by the different looks and the lack of an exhaust tip) was captured for the first time by startup 91Wheels.com in Delhi-NCR earlier this year and revealed key features of the cabin. Last year, reports said that these test mules were of the upcoming petrol-engined ‘Maruti XL5’ to be sold via the NEXA dealership chain, which is incorrect.

Parts like AC vents, seat upholstery design and multi-function steering wheel have been borrowed from the latest gen Wagon R which came out in January 2019. The Maruti Wagon R electric will have the same 7.0-inch infotainment system (SmartPlay Studio) that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, the Maruti Wagon R electric will feature an automatic climate control feature that is not available in the petrol variant.

The gear selector module has a setting marked as ‘B’ which, according to 91Wheels, denotes the Brake Regeneration function. Brake Regeneration charges the battery while braking or when you take the foot off the accelerator pedal, in turn, increasing the driving range of the car. This feature is the most effective in city driving when the stop-go scenario is experienced frequently, and car companies offer different levels that can be selected based on the driver’s requirement of range vs. driving smoothness.

Video Source: youtube.com/91Wheels

Maruti Wagon R Electric car Price expectation

The Maruti Wagon R electric car, with a real-world range of 130-180 km/charge and DC fast-charging capability (80% capacity achieved in an hour) is expected to be launched in the first half of 2021 at under INR 10 lakh (ex-showroom). The cost of the vehicle will come down if a localization program is pursued aggressively and EV-type Li-ion batteries are made at Suzuki’s new battery plant in Gujarat. The plant which will specialize in batteries for hybrid cars, is being currently built, in partnership with Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation, and will be inaugurated in a few months.

The Mahindra eKUV100, that will go on sale in early 2021, is India’s most affordable electric car, with a price of INR 8.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi, incl. FAME II subsidy). While Mahindra will likely market it as the nation’s most affordable electric car, Maruti Suzuki may steal its thunder in a few months. Maruti Suzuki’s deep roots in the Indian auto industry allow it to launch cars at unmatched pricing, and the same is expected for the Maruti Wagon R electric.

Maruti Suzuki was worried about the costly nature of EVs, but seeing how state governments are also rolling out big incentives, pricing may not be as big of a problem in 2021 as it was at the start of the Maruti electric car project. In Delhi, for instance, electric car buyers can now get up to INR 1.5 lakh EV subsidy in addition to the FAME II EV subsidy of Rs 10,000 per kWh. As per the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy 2020, there is no road tax on electric vehicles.

Range & Specifications

Maruti Wagon R Electric SpecificationValue
Length3655 mm
Width1520 mm
Height1675 mm
Wheelbase2435 mm
Range150 km (real world)
Battery Capacity16-18 kWh
Charging Time7 hr (AC), 80% in < 1 hr (DC fast-charging)
PriceUnder INR 10 lakh
These are expected specifications. Note that Maruti Suzuki has not given out technical information on the EV.

Launch date

Talking to The Hindu Businessline (TheHinduBusinessline.com) in August, RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki, had said there is no plan at the moment for the launch of a Maruti Wagon R electric. Though the Maruti Wagon R electric has been in development for at least two years, Bhargava said the market is hardly appropriate for the sale of small electric cars in India in large volume.

Bhargava asked that while a large EV owner has a driveway or a garage where the vehicle can be charged, how a small car owner who parks his vehicle on the roadside would be able to charge his vehicle. He said big car owners could have multiple vehicles and can have an EV also, but a small car owner does not.

Video Source: youtube.com/Abhinav Bhatt

In May, Bhargava had said that Maruti Suzuki is predicting a positive market response for fleet sales of its upcoming electric car in India, but it seemingly wasn’t sure about achieving high volumes for the same from individual customers yet.

Bhargava stated that the customer is either going to make or break e-mobility and will buy an electric car only if he or she finds it to their benefit. He cited that influencing the workability of EVs are affordability, ease of ownership and battery technology. Bhargava had indicated last year that the electric Wagon R would not come for the personal mobility segment initially.

From the different interviews of top Maruti officials that have appeared in the press, it can be surmised that Maruti has questions lingering about the customer-friendliness of electric vehicles. The lack of proper charging infrastructure (that has to be supported by the government) is a big concern and the limited range that batteries provide at the price point of the Indian mass-market car today is causing uncertainty.

Maruti Suzuki announced at the Auto Expo that it is planning production lines to pump out a million ‘green’ vehicles in the next couple years which includes CNG, mild hybrids, strong hybrid as well as electric cars in India under the Maruti ‘Mission Green Million’ activity.

Also Read: Ride hailing platform BluSmart keen to induct Wagon R EV & eKUV100

When asked at the Auto Expo 2020 about how Maruti plans to tackle the Real Driving Emissions test and new CAFE norms coming up in the next three years, CV Raman, Senior Executive Director, Engineering, Maruti Suzuki, said:

CO2 targets are becoming more stringent, and of course emissions in terms of RDE is also coming. Our communication today is about Mission Green Million, that we have done in the last decade one million (units of ‘green’ vehicles) but in the next couple of years we want to do a million units. And we want to have technology-agnostic approach using CNG, Smart Hybrid 12V technology, Strong Hybrid and we want to develop the ecosystem for the EV.

So that’s the direction in which we believe we should move which would be beneficial for India, and from a customer point of view – what is the acceptance level and what price points they would be looking at. We are a volume manufacturer, we believe in scale, which brings down the cost. So it has to be a marriage of both these things going forward, and yes you will see a lot of these technologies.

CV Raman, Senior Executive Director, Engineering, Maruti Suzuki to ElectricVehicleWeb on February 5 at the India Expo Mart.

Wagon R Electric FAQ

When is the launch of the Maruti Wagon R electric car?

The Maruti electric car will hit showrooms by end of 2021. The sales plan would prioritize fleet customers before personal car buyers get to book it.

What is the price of the Wagon R electric car?

Maruti has not announced the price of the Wagon R EV, but since the base car is a low-cost hatchback, expect the price under INR 10 lakh.