First Drive: Maruti Suzuki Swift

As electric mobility takes the centre stage globally including the Indian market, Japanese carmaker, Suzuki Motor Corporation has raised its targets to sell 1.5 million (15 lakh) electric cars in India by 2030 through its subsidiary Maruti Suzuki. Interestingly, Suzuki does not have any electric car in its global product portfolio yet and it's likely that its first fully-electric car will be developed here in India. Earlier in 2017, R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki had confirmed that the company will make electric cars in India by 2020. The company is indeed betting big on this mass shift towards electric cars, which will also require some huge investments. The company had showcased the plug-in hybrid version of its popular Swift hatch earlier but the car did not see a market launch.

Osamu Suzuki, Chairman, Suzuki Motor Corporation expects car sales in India to go up to 10 million units/year by 2030 from the existing 3.28 million units. The company is also confident in maintaining over 50 percent market share in India till 2030, which will mean building more capacity to build as many as 5 million vehicles every year by then. In the recently concluded Financial Year 2017-18, the company sold 1.64 million cars in India and this number is expected to increase threefold if Suzuki wants to meet its target.

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Further, Osamu Suzuki says that 30% of its 5 million sales target will come from electric cars. This means Maruti Suzuki will not only need new electric cars but also existing popular cars like Alto, Swift and Dzire might be among the firsts to get electric variants as EVs become popular among the Indian buyers. The new collaboration between Suzuki and Toyota will also improve the pace of new electric vehicle development in India.

Government's stance on EVs is still not clear, while it says it is committed to reducing the country's oil import bill, it has also not announced any EV policy or subsidies to manufacturing electric cars in India which has slowed down the shift towards green vehicles. Tata Motors and Mahindra are currently the only electric car makers in the country. The other big concern that remains unaddressed is the charging infrastructure. Maruti Suzuki has the capabilities to launch EVs in a big way and market it using both of its Arena and Nexa channel of dealerships. In the next 12 years, by 2030, Maruti Suzuki is expected to have a 30 cars/SUVs in its product line-up.

All these developments point towards a future of electric mobility but the need of the hour is a collaboration between stakeholders such as the government, carmakers and power companies. Only then, such large volumes can turn into a reality.

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