The viability of electric cars in the longer run has always been a major source of debate for everyone in the automotive industry since the last couple of years. While some automakers claim EVs to be holier than thou, there are other automakers who have a balanced approach to this topic and one of them is Maruti Suzuki.
At the recently held 50th National Management Convention organised by the All India Management Association, Mr. R C Bhargava, Chairman Maruti Suzuki, stated that electric cars won’t be clean until India gets at least 50% of its electricity from renewable resources. He continued by saying that the carbon footprint of electric cars in India would be bigger than that of hybrids because 75% of our electricity is made from coal.
He stated that hybrids are cleaner than electric cars right now and even CNG is a cleaner form of fuel as compared to petrol. He feels that India should heavily consider hydrogen, ethanol and fuel cell cars more than electric cars.
On a personal level, I also agree with him because let’s face it, though electric cars have zero direct emissions, they still pollute indirectly plus there is the constant debate of whether our infrastructure is ready to embrace electric cars fully or not. Hybrids (pure, not mild) are a lot more efficient, have running costs similar to or a little more than EVs and having a hybrid is also more convenient than having an EV (5 mins to fill fuel anywhere versus long charge times). I also feel that while CNG is clean, this fuel has become significantly expensive over the years and there are still long queues for refuelling at most places while the range is usually between 180-250 kms on a tankful.
It is a known fact that Maruti Suzuki was working on an electrified Wagon R for a really long time but the car was never launched here. Mr. Bhargava went on to state that the cost of that model was too high and now they’ll be launching more commercially viable electric cars in the market. He continued that even with 6 electric models, their share in Maruti’s sales charts would still be only 15-20%. In fact, electric cars comprise only 2% share in our country’s total car sales.
He also stated that making diesel cars will remain an exorbitant proposition because of the ever increasing norms and CAFE compliance. Regarding the introduction of Bharat NCAP, he stated that as long as people get new driving licenses easily through the current test system, it will be difficult to bring down the number of accidents and deaths.
Maruti Suzuki had showcased the EVX electric SUV concept at the 2023 Auto Expo and the vehicle’s production version is likely to hit the roads in 2024. Maruti’s upcoming EV will rival the likes of the Tata Nexon EV and even the upcoming Hyundai Creta EV. As far as hybrids go, the company currently has the Grand Vitara on sale which has seen decent success (along with its cousin Urban Cruiser Hyryder) while most other cars from Maruti’s stable get only a mild-hybrid system.