The days of the internal combustion engine seem to be numbered. Pure internal combustion engines are likely to become extinct by 2030 as car makers around the world look at hybrids and even full-electric cars. Maruti Suzuki – India’s largest car maker – is also betting on a similar approach in the future. Next-generation versions of popular Maruti cars like the Alto, WagonR, Swift, Dzire, Baleno and Vitara Brezza are likely to either be mild-hybrids, full-hybrids or pure-electric cars. This was just confirmed by Kenichi Ayukawa, the MD of Maruti Suzuki.
This change is expected to happen before 2025 as all of the above cars will have their next-generation models coming in by then. We expect Maruti to go for full-hybrids on more expensive cars like the Baleno and Vitara Brezza while entry-level ones like the WagonR and the Alto may opt for mild-hybrids. Full-electric cars may take another 5 years to become common – maybe by 2030 – as lithium ion batteries continue to remain expensive and electric car charging infrastructure remains woefully inadequate in most parts of India.
Here’s Kenichi Ayukawa’s statement that seeks a hybrid approach,
The number of electric vehicles [EVs] is very limited. To shift to EVs, we have to do a lot of things such as component localising and building charging infrastructure. Hence, we propose the hybrid system — mild, strong etc, because even though EVs will increase, we will still have majority of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. To address environment concerns, we have to improve fuel efficiency for the large part of the automobile market not addressed by EVs.
Maruti will also go ahead with its electric car program for the Indian market. The first EV from Maruti will be launched in 2020. Don’t expect it to be cheap though. Maruti’s MD has confirmed that it would be nearly impossible to price the electric car in the Rs. 5-6 lakh segment. What this also means is that it could be quite some time before electric cars become truly ‘mass-market’.