Maruti Suzuki to add hybrid technology to model range, mid-SUV to get it first

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) aims to have strong and mild hybrid technologies as a part of its initiative to incorporate eco-friendly technology elements in each of its models over the next 5-7 years. This initiative will enable better fuel efficiency and lower carbon footprint. Battery electric vehicles, CNG cars, and increased focus on ethanol and bio-CNG compliant engines will also be prioritized going forward.

“In the next five to seven years, every model will have some element (of green technology). There will be no pure petrol powertrain in the entire range,” MSI Chief Technical Officer CV Raman told PTI. He added that the company is particularly looking for robust hybrid technology in several models going forward.

“We will definitely look into that option,” Raman said on whether all models will be candidates for robust self-charging hybrid powertrains. “When we come up with a technology, we try to democratize it by putting it in as many models as possible,” he said.

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The company’s upcoming mid-size SUV is going to have a strong hybrid system. MSI is set to unveil the model later this month. It already offers mild-hybrid technology in various models in its portfolio.

Hybrid cars combine the advantages of gasoline engines and electric motors. A mild hybrid system offers only minor benefits, while a stronger hybrid system, which includes a larger battery and associated assembly, provides a significant jump in fuel efficiency and thus a reduction in carbon footprint.

Raman said that currently in the absence of adequate charging infrastructure in the country, hybrid technology is the best approach in the transition phase towards pure battery electric vehicles. He added that the self-charging hybrid mechanism not only reduces CO2 emissions and increases fuel efficiency, but also takes care of the range concern issues for the buyers.

When asked whether hybrid vehicles should also get the taxation benefits availed by battery electric vehicles (EVs), Raman said, “It (hybrid technology) should be given its dues (in terms of taxation).” Hybrid vehicles in the country are taxed at 43 per cent overall, while battery electric vehicles attract around 5 per cent tax.
Raman said that all kinds of steps are needed to achieve the targets set under the COP26 Climate Change Convention.

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“The strong hybrid is going to take care of part of it … I think it’s the right solution to help the car run in an environmentally friendly way,” he said. “Why this eco-friendly transition is not an acceptable solution that people should be talking about.”

Elaborating on the EV scenario, Raman said that in order to achieve the government targets by 2030, the entire ecosystem will have to transform in the next five years, which will be a major challenge for the industry as well as the automaker. Raman said, “What we have done in the last 30 years in the development of conventional vehicles, we will now have to do it in eight years.

The central government intends to reach 30 per cent of EV sales for private cars, 70 per cent for commercial vehicles, 40 per cent for buses and 80 per cent for two and three-wheelers by 2030. Raman said that the country currently lacks the required scale. To make such a big change.

“Everything is going electronic these days. We don’t have an ecosystem. Everything has to be imported until the PLI (Production Linked Incentive) scheme really kicks in and is able to deliver on time And all the localization happens,” he said.

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He further added, “If we want to achieve this dream of 30 percent electric passenger vehicles by 2030, we have to transform this entire ecosystem in the next five years. It is a challenge. All powertrain engineers need to transition to EVs. There is a need to make the entire ecosystem efficient again, from service to component suppliers, there is a huge amount of work pending.”

He said that it is good to have goals, one should work towards them but then you also have to take steps to achieve those goals. Quoting a study, Raman said that most of the existing EV buyers were charging their vehicles at home. He said the adoption of electric cars is a challenge as almost 60 per cent of car buyers park their vehicles on the side of the road.

Raman said that looking at all these issues, the automaker is planning to study all aspects of the EV segment over the next 3-5 years to provide better solutions to the customer. “We will see what the EV customer wants, and accordingly decide where to place our bets. This will go along with the development of the product,” he added. MSI plans to launch its first battery-electric model in the country in 2025.

(with inputs from PTI)

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