Suzuki and Toyota to co-produce EVs for India by 2020
News that brings the EV dream just a little closer to reality
Make no mistake: this has to be the biggest announcement by any carmaker since India declared it would be a country of electric vehicles by 2030. Suzuki has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Toyota, and under this MoU, it has announced that the two will come together to produce EVs for India by 2020.
It was only recently that Suzuki CEO Toshihiro Suzuki had made public his concerns of his company being caught "flat-footed" as India made the shift to EVs, so it comes as no surprise that Suzuki has decided to go flat-out in what is a key market for its business.
According to the MoU, "Suzuki is to produce EVs for the Indian market and will supply some to Toyota, while Toyota is to provide technical support." Suzuki had earlier in the year announced its joint venture with Toshiba and Denso to manufacture lithium-ion batteries at its new plant, in Gujarat, so it's amply clear that while Toyota has been tasked with the duty of helping develop these EVs, Suzuki is the one that will be building them -- and sharing some of those with its friendly neighbourhood carmaker.
That aside, the MoU also talks about "the establishment of charging stations, human resources development that includes training for after-service technicians employed throughout sales networks, and systems for the appropriate treatment of end-of-life batteries," all topics that haven't been -- and need to be -- discussed seriously.
To make these EVs feasible, Suzuki and Toyota are going to rely heavily on localisation. The statement reads: "in addition to lithium-ion batteries, electric motors and other major components would be locally procured for the production of EVs in India." That's important, for if the Indian masses are to take EVs seriously, they have to be well within reach of the average car buyer.
This is big news: for Maruti Suzuki to pick up the gauntlet and enter the EV fray will really open up the field and push other carmakers to pull up their socks and get right into it.
It's difficult to say what kind of products this team-up will result in, but in the meantime, which Maruti would you like to see an all-electric version of first? The comments section awaits your ideas...