Hybrid cars from Maruti Suzuki and Honda are 2-4 years away from launch
Both Maruti and Honda are readying full-hybrid cars for the Indian market. The launch of these cars is at least 2-4 years away at the moment. The new petrol-hybrid cars from Maruti and Honda will be sold at diesel car prices, which means that they will have heavy amounts of localization in both the electric motor and batteries required to run them. The shift to hybrid is due to tighter fuel efficiency standards, which come into place in 2022. Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) will be 113 grams of CO2 per kilometer from 2022, which means that both companies will have to hit the hybrid button to achieve this stringent target. The present CAFE target is a much more relaxed 138 grams of CO2/km.
Maruti’s head of engineering, CV Raman said this,”What we are looking at doing is improving our internal combustion engines by hybridizing them.” Echoing his sentiments, Yoichiro Yeno, the MD of Honda Cars India, said,”It would be essential to launch hybrid vehicles to meet norms. Some components may have to be imported in the beginning, but we want to maximise the locally made parts.”
Maruti is expected to benefit from synergies that the Suzuki-Toyota partnership in India will create. Denso, a car parts maker owned by Toyota, will build lithium-ion batteries in India, in collaboration with Suzuki. This is expected to result in hybrids becoming a lot cheaper for Maruti. Other components needed for the hybrid system will also be suitably localized to make the petrol-hybrid cars as cheap as diesel-powered cars. This could see hybrids becoming vastly accepted by buyers in India.
Honda will also pursue a highly localized petrol-hybrid car policy for the Indian market for the future. However, the Japanese carmaker may take a different approach in terms of how the hybrid car drives. Honda could use the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) or range extender system where it uses the petrol engine to either run the electric generator to power the batteries or as a direct source of propulsion for the wheels. More details on this approach will be known closer to the launch of the Honda petrol-hybrid cars.