The market share of the largest automaker in the country has been slipping away in recent years. In the year 2010, the automaker had a 45% hold on the market which has reduced to 37.76% in 2012.
[Maruti showcased a Swift hybrid prototype at the 2012 Auto Expo as part of the SIAM Technology Day. You can learn more on it here]
Critical factors such as rising competition, uneven economic conditions, finicky fuel policies and labour strikes are blamed. The automaker is searching for new and innovative avenues to fuel its future growth and challenge its rivals.
MoneyControl reports that the automaker is contemplating on developing India’s first small car with a petrol hybrid technology.
Maruti Suzuki has always fiddled around with the concept of EVs but never ever shown a full commitment towards the technology like Mahindra Reva. Previously, we have seen the Eeco and SX4 electric Concepts at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi. However, Maruti believes that pure EVs might not find acceptability in a country marred by power shortage problems.
But with the government launching the new National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, green vehicles will find more acceptability in India. Thus, the automaker believes that a combination of propulsion technologies will be the way forward. Maruti already has its strong prowess in petrol engines and small cars. The company plans to leverage its know-how to make India’s first small car with a petrol hybrid engine. The proposed small car is being co-developed with engineers from Suzuki Japan.
[The SX4 facelift, that was showcased as well, used a 1.2L K Series engine paired to a 30KW motor that lead to a fuel consumption advantage of 30% over the petrol variant]
Hybrids are not new to India. Toyota and Honda have already dirtied their hands in this segment. Sadly, because of high prices and barely educated customers, both attempts failed miserably.
The big challenge for Maruti Suzuki would be to offer the technology at an affordable cost. Maruti Suzuki is planning a sub-10 lakh price tag for their future hybrid small car.
This is a very high risk strategy for an automaker as big as Maruti Suzuki. Not only does the technology needs to be cutting-edge but it also needs to be reliable for average customer to adopt it quickly. Maruti Suzuki’s service outlets need to be updated to able to take care of servicing a hybrid.
Having said that, only Maruti Suzuki has enough fire power to launch such a massive change in the Indian automotive market.