Maruti may find itself in hot water over the subsidy that it was getting from the Indian government for the Ciaz and Ertiga Diesel Mild Hybrid cars. A lawyer, Ashwini Kumar, has filed a plea against Maruti with the National Green Tribunal. Under the FAME scheme, Maruti has received Rs. 95.61 crores from the Indian government as subsidy on the Ciaz and Ertiga Diesel Mild Hybrids. The lawyer has alleged that the mild-hybrids that Maruti sells are not ‘true hybrids’ and that the company should refund the 95 crore rupee subsidy it has gained from the government.
The lawyer’s plea to the NGT is as follows,
The only plausible explanation for the sudden withdrawal of subsidy to the cars manufactured by the Respondent No.3 (Maruti) appears to be the RTI applications by the applicant trying to seek information of the certification of the vehicles produced by Maruti categorised as ‘Mild Hybrid Vehicles.’ As soon as the government realised that the information asked for by the applicant would disclose the ex-facie illegal grant of subsidy, the government chose to withdraw the subsidy. Pass an order regarding utilisation of the subsidy fund in an effective manner for prevention of pollution and implementation of environmental laws.
Following this petition, the NGT has issued notices to Maruti Suzuki and the central government of India, seeking their responses to the allegations made in the petition before the 21st of February 2018.
The lawyer’s allegation that mild-hybrids are not true-hybrids is true. In fact, the Ciaz and Ertiga Mild Hybrids use power generated by brake energy regeneration to reduce the load on the engine during acceleration. This results in lower fuel consumption and lower emissions.
Both cars cannot be driven only on battery power and the hybrid system used by them is only for supplementing the engine’s power. On the other hand, a true hybrid car ;like the Toyota Camry Hybrid has a much larger battery pack, and is capable of being driven on both petrol power and battery power (electricity).
Clearly, mild-hybrids are not the same as pure-hybrids, and this is why the lawyer is claiming that the subsidy that Maruti has received is not legal. Now, the Indian government has discontinued the FAME scheme, which means that the Ciaz and Ertiga Diesel Mild Hybrids no longer get Rs. 13,000 each as subsidy from the government.
After the government discontinued the FAME scheme, Maruti stopped adding the mild-hybrid technology to newer cars such as the Dzire and the Swift. However, it continues to offer the mild hybrid system, which it called Suzuki Hybrid Vehicle System (SHVS), on the Ciaz and Ertiga Diesels.
News Source: ET Auto