After announcing an investment of Rs 1,150 crore in a new unit in Gujarat to produce lithium-ion batteries — a first by an auto firm — with its partners Toshiba and Denso, Suzuki Motor has stepped up efforts on a global level for manufacturing electric vehicles in partnership with another Japanese firm, Toyota Motor.
Beginning this year, Suzuki and Toyota had signed a pact for a business partnership in areas such as green vehicles, safety and information technologies and mutual supply of products and components. The expectation was that Suzuki would leverage the partnership to seek collaboration on electric and hybrid vehicles, apart from technology.
Recent reports from Japanese news agency Nikkei stated that Suzuki may also collaborate with Mazda Technologies for electric vehicle technology.
Sources said the way Suzuki is looking at things is that once its battery project is up and running, developing affordable electric vehicles in partnership with Toyota.
It would be helpful and give it an advantage over others as the battery is seen to be key to developing electric vehicles.
Naturally, Suzuki’s Indian arm Maruti Suzuki would benefit from the project and get an edge over its competitors in the domestic market in electric vehicles. So far, Maruti Suzuki has not unveiled any plans for electric vehicles in the country but has only said that if consumers prefer such vehicles, it would not shy away from developing them.
Suzuki’s lithium-ion batteries plant in Gujarat, which would see an investment of Rs 1,150 crore, would be a three-way joint venture between Suzuki (50%), Toshiba (40%) and Denso (10%).
The batteries will be used for hybrid vehicles manufactured in India, which would also be exported to international market. The plant is expected to be operational from 2020. An email query sent to Maruti Suzuki on the subject remained unanswered at the time of going to press.