Maruti Suzuki India chairman RC Bhargava on Wednesday said the company’s maiden electric vehicle (EV), which it plans to introduce in the market in 2025, will be positioned in the upper segment.
Maruti’s EVs will be produced at the Suzuki Motor Gujarat plant. “In the beginning, they will be in the upper segment of the market. They are not going to come in the lower end initially. We hope to get good customer acceptance for these EVs as these have been carefully designed and made,” Bhargava told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting.
The country’s largest manufacturer of internal combustion engine-powered passenger vehicles (PVs) witnesses a significant contribution to its volumes from relatively affordable models. For instance, the company sold 788,000 hatchbacks in FY22 and had a 68.4% share in the segment.
Bhargava also said the level of indigenisation in the EVs will be high because of the upcoming battery plant. On August 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Suzuki Motor Gujarat EV battery manufacturing facility at Hansalpur, Gujarat.
While the choice for passenger EVs is limited at present in India to models like Nexon and Tigor from Tata Motors, Hyundai Motor India’s Kona EV, and ZS EV from MG Motor India, the country will have a robust portfolio of such models in the next five years.
Tata Motors will launch EVs like Curvv and Avinya by 2025. Mahindra recently unveiled five electric SUVs — XUV.e8, XUV.e9, BE.05, BE.07 and BE.09. Hyundai will introduce six new electric models by 2028. MG will launch a new EV in the price bracket of Rs 12 lakh to Rs 16 lakh next year. Kia India is also planning to develop an India-centric EV, which will enter the market by 2025.
Talking about the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment, Bhargava said that it is the fastest-growing segment in the market today and Maruti has now started introducing some exciting new products in it. The company launched the new version of Brezza, which is a sub-four metre compact SUV, in June. The prices of the new Grand Vitara mid-size SUV, which was unveiled in July, are expected to be revealed in September.
“The Grand Vitara, which will go on sale in about a month, has Toyota’s strong hybrid technology. It is a vehicle that despite its size and weight has a fuel efficiency of 27.97 kmpl. I think it will be a game changer in the Indian market,” Bhargava said.
Maruti has also updated Baleno premium hatchback, Ertiga and XL6 multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and Alto K10 hatchback this year. According to Bhargava, all the new models will help the company restore its market share.
The company had a market share of 51% in the PV segment in FY19 and FY20. However, it dropped to 48% in FY21 and further to 43% in FY22. This was owing to the weak presence in the SUV segment, particularly mid-size, and supply-side constraints hampering the company’s production capacity.
He further said that Maruti’s upcoming manufacturing facility in Kharkhoda, Haryana, has the potential of having an installed capacity of 1 million units, making it one of the largest production facilities at one location anywhere in the world.
Bhargava also touched upon the importance of Maruti Suzuki India for Suzuki Motor Corporation. “Sale of cars from India was 60% of Suzuki’s global sales. This is only going to go up in the future because of the Kharkhoda facility. It is clear that Maruti has become a very important part of Suzuki Japan,” he said.
He also pointed that the market for luxury cars is limited in India. “Maruti, from the very beginning, has been looking at volumes for keeping costs down. We are a volume car manufacturer. We are not a manufacturer that makes niche products in small volumes. There is no value for us to get into making luxury, premium cars,” he said.