While Suzuki and Toyota are jointly working on building hybrid cars as part of their global tie-up, Honda already owns the hybrid technology and is waiting for the right time to introduce them in the Indian market.
By Pritish Raj
Nearly half a dozen fully hybrid cars are likely to hit the domestic market in the next two years, mainly from Maruti Suzuki, Toyota and Honda Cars India. Sources say the companies have started the process of developing hybrid vehicles suited for Indian conditions.
The parent companies of the three automakers will take the lead in providing technology for hybrid vehicles, which will be introduced in the existing product line-up of their Indian units, said sources. For instance, Maruti Suzuki may have a full hybrid version of its sedan Ciaz and Honda may offer a hybrid Civic or City. Maruti Suzuki currently sells a mild hybrid version of Ciaz. Around four hybrid vehicles are likely to be shared by Toyota and Maruti, while Honda is likely to offer two such models, said sources.
While Suzuki and Toyota are jointly working on building hybrid cars as part of their global tie-up, Honda already owns the hybrid technology and is waiting for the right time to introduce them in the Indian market. Toyota Kirloskar Motor had in January revived the hybrid variant of its premium sedan Camry. The company had earlier stopped selling Camry as sales slumped owing to rise in taxes after the GST implementation in July 2017.
As part of the Rs 10,000-crore phase 2 of the FAME (faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles) scheme, strong and plug-in hybrids under Rs 15 lakh will be eligible for an incentive of Rs 20,000. Even though incentives are small compared to what electric vehicles have been given, senior executives in the industry are of the opinion that hybrid cars are the next big option for India and the scheme will at least create a momentum. The companies have also written to the government to provide specific subsidy meant only for hybrid cars, sources said.
Rajesh Goel, senior VP & director, sales and marketing, at Honda Cars India said hybrid cars are the only option before complete electrification of cars take place in India. “In between ICE engines and electric vehicles, hybrid stands as a midway option as far as pollution concerns and fuel efficiency are concerned, and our headquarters is working on a product for the Indian market,” he told FE. Goel, however, declined to give specific details regarding any timeline for the India launch.
Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Kirloskar Motor did not reply to e-mails sent to them. Just a few days back, both the companies had announced that they have extended their alliance, as part of which they will share more models and jointly develop hybrid and electric vehicles for India, besides exchanging engines and technologies. Under the latest agreement, Toyota will provide Suzuki its hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technologies in India through local procurement of HEV systems, engines and batteries.
“While Toyota will be providing technology to Maruti Suzuki for the latter’s first full hybrid car and work is on for higher localisation of components, the investment will be done jointly by both the companies,” a person familiar with the matter said. Maruti Suzuki has also set up a new lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in Gujarat. India adopted CAFE norms, which require cars to be 10% or more fuel-efficient from 2021 and 30% or more by 2022. The norms are also aimed at reducing vehicle emissions by as much as 30%.