Being Maruti Suzuki means a lot of things in the Indian car market. You not only are the biggest car makers in the country but have been the very reason that turned people’s dreams of buying a car into reality. With their iconic Maruti 800, the manufacturer aimed at motorising the common man. And thirty-four years after the 800, the company is back to its drawing board, this time planning to build an electric car specially for India.
The company knows that EVs are the future of motoring, and as a result, it is looking for lithium suppliers for their lithium-ion battery plant in Gujarat. The company will later expand to establishing charging stations for electric cars throughout the country. MSIL CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said that the carmaker is working its way to having an electric car portfolio very soon.
“In a sense, we are trying to challenge ourselves as the time has come to change the game. Hence, we have to review (our strategy) and start again from zero.” “We need to decide if we want to buy (lithium) from a (Latin) American country or some other country. We need to find a source for that.”
The reason why Maruti Suzuki has enjoyed so much success is because it listens to its customers. The company has done timely surveys to know what a consumer in India needs from cars in different segments. And, carrying forward the same, the company has already started conducting nation-wide surveys to understand the needs and expectations of an electric car buyer.
Ayukawa also emphasised on the fact that lithium remains essential to an EV, and that a hindrance in its supply will have negative repercussions on India’s EV program. “If we cannot get lithium, we cannot make such kind of a product,” he said.
Maruti are not the first car manufacturers to enter the EV sphere in the Indian market. Local company Mahindra & Mahindra already boast of an impressive electric car portfolio with their e2o and e20+ models. However, should Maruti Suzuki start rolling out EVs from their assembly lines, it won’t be hard to imagine that they would beat Mahindra simply because of the trust that Indians have in the company.
Maruti’s latest Swift which is yet to be released in India comes with a hybrid powertrain in the foreign market. It remains to be seen if the company will bring the sophisticated technology to the subcontinent when it launches the much-loved car later this year.