Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, Mr RC Bhargava, has confirmed to the Times Of India that the company has developed an electric version of the Maruti Wagon R, and believes that the model will be accepted by the fleet operators of India. However he does not sound confident about the mass acceptance of the EVs at this stage and whether people are ready to spend on an electric car.
He states 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 cites influencing the workability of EVs are affordability, ease of ownership and battery technology, in the report filed by timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Bhargava had hinted last year that the electric Wagon R would not come for the personal mobility segment at least initially.
From the different interviews of top Maruti officials that have appeared in the press recently, it can be surmised that Maruti has questions lingering about the customer-friendliness of electric vehicles. The lack of a 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 another factor raising doubts in their minds.
Maruti 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 under the Maruti ‘Mission Green Million’ activity.
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:
C02 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.
[IAB’s video of the Maruti electric car from its test runs near the capital region]
Maruti Suzuki began testing its first production electric vehicle based on the new generation Wagon R last year. The interior of the electric vehicle (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 reveals 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 electric version gets the same 7.0-inch infotainment system (SmartPlay Studio) that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, the Wagon R EV gets an automatic climate control feature that is not available even to the top-spec variant ZXi variant.
Maruti electric car comes with a self-charging feature
The gear selector module also has something 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.
The first Maruti electric car 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 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 not intended for customers.
Maruti electric car Price, Range & Launch date
The first Maruti 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 around 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 battery plant in Gujarat, which is being currently built in partnership with Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation, to be inaugurated in a few months.
|Maruti Wagon R Electric expected specification||Value|
|Battery Capacity||18-20 kWh|
|Charging Time||7 hr (AC), 80% in < 1 hr (DC fast-charging)|
|Price||Rs 10 lakh|