In the future, when the need for EVs in the country picks up, the company will produce EVs from its factories when it launches its first electric vehicle in 2025.

According to the company’s new Managing Director and CEO, Hisashi Takeuchi, the country’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, would launch various electric vehicle models in India in order to catch up with competition and become a leader in the market, despite not being present there at the moment.

The firm, which intends to debut its first EV model in 2025, also intends to produce EVs from its plants in the future as the country’s demand for EVs increases. To begin, the first EV will be manufactured at Suzuki Motor Gujarat.

“We are a little behind our competitors in introducing the (EV) model to the Indian market, but we see that still, the market demand for those EVs is limited. Actually, sales of EVs in the Indian market are still very, very limited,” Takeuchi said here in an interaction.

He further said, “But that does not mean we are doing nothing about EV. We have done a very extensive test of our EV utilising our existing models and putting those batteries and motors and everything into this existing model.  We have been doing this test for more than a year with multiple cars in the Indian environment so that we are sure that our EV technology will be good in the environment, which is very, very tough in India.”

Takeuchi was replying to a question about whether Maruti Suzuki India has given competitors like Tata Motors the first mover advantage in the EV industry.

According to FADA, Tata Motors would lead the electric passenger car sector in 2021-22, with retail sales of 15,198 units and a market share of 85.37 percent. According to the most recent figures from the industry association, total electric passenger car retail sales in the past fiscal year were 17,802, more than tripling from 4,984 units in FY21.

The government is striving for EV sales penetration in private automobiles to reach 30% by 2030. Citing industry experts that EVs could account for 10 percent by 2030, he said when the volume expands “of course, we would like to be a leader in the Indian automotive space, which is not just limited to IC (internal combustion) engines but all passenger cars. Also in the EV space, we would like to become the number one and the leader in the Indian automotive space.”

For this, Takeuchi said, “We have been doing tests and developing models prepared for India specification. That it’s not just one. We said by 2025 we will introduce (an EV) but there are plans (for others) to follow.  I’m sure that we can be very strong in the EV space also when we introduce our products into this EV market.”

He affirmed that after the business introduces its first EV in 2025, numerous EV models would follow in due course.

Takeuchi, on the other hand, stated that EVs are still highly expensive, and that it is difficult to create a low-cost EV with existing technology. Asked if that meant the company’s first EV will not be under Rs 10 lakh, he said, “I can’t give you a specific answer right now but what I can tell is that it’s really difficult to have a cost-competitive and less expensive EV because of the cost of a battery.”

An EV can become cost-competitive if the battery is smaller, but this reduces range and creates range anxiety for consumers, he said, adding that such an EV could only be marketed effectively if there is appropriate charging infrastructure with rapid charging alternatives.

Maruti Suzuki had earlier in 2019 tested an electric vehicle based on its WagonR with plans to launch in 2020 but decided against a commercial launch for personal use citing a lack of infrastructure and government support and has maintained that selling affordable EVs on a mass scale would be difficult at current prices.

Suzuki Motor Corporation said this month that it will spend over 150 billion yen (approximately Rs 10,445 crore) in Gujarat by 2026 for local production of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and BEV batteries.

“The investment this time is at Suzuki Motor Gujarat plant but that does not mean that we will not produce EVs in Maruti Suzuki’s plants…we have to produce in every factory over Maruti Suzuki as well as Suzuki Motor Gujarat (SMG) once EV becomes popular in India,” Takeuchi said.

The decision to start EV production from the SMG plant has been taken “because this new EV is a strategically important model for the entire Suzuki group globally. We are planning to not only sell this car in the Indian market but also export as well.”

In response to the chip shortage, he stated that the situation has improved slightly but that forecasting is tough.

In terms of sales, he stated that the firm still has over 2.7 lakh pending orders. Despite the fact that the business’s market share fell to 43.4 percent in FY22 from 47 percent in FY21, the company expects it to increase with the scheduled launch of new SUVs and improvements in the supply chain.

MSI’s shipments to dealers in the previous fiscal year were 13,31,558 units, compared to 12,93,840 units in the 2020-21 fiscal year.