Maruti will make electric cars in Gujarat

Gandhinagar: Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp. on Thursday said that its joint venture partnership with Toshiba Corp. and Denso Corp. will start making lithium ion batteries for India and global markets from 2020.

The batteries will be used for "hybrid vehicles manufactured in India and export these genuinely manufactured in India vehicles to worldwide market", Suzuki said.

The move is significant because this is the first time a major original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is investing in making lithium ion batteries, which are critical in making electric and hybrid vehicles.

Although Suzuki Motors in 2010 had once showcased a model of its Swift auto that was all-electric, named Swift REEV or Range Extender, the vehicle was never commercially produced. However, this was never commercially produced. While at 1140 hours, the stock was trading at Rs 8,082.85 per share, up by 0.14% on the BSE on Friday.

The Japanese company also has a wholly-owned vehicle plant in Gujarat with an annual production of 2.5 lakh units. Together, the three companies will invest $180 million (Rs 1,151 crore) for the plant, which will be operational by 2020.

When the third plant starts functioning fully, the SMC's Gujarat plant will have a total capacity of 7.5 lakh units per annum. Globally, Suzuki also does not have effective technology in the sphere and sought partnerships, first with Volkswagen AG; and now Toshiba and Denso, to beef up its presence in the space. With the third plant, it will employ 10,000 people (including suppliers).

Last week Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava had stated that SMC was also considering setting up a fourth production line of 2.5 lakh units at Hansalpur plant to take its total capacity to a million units.

The manufacturing operation will utilise cell modules from Toshiba, while Denso will contribute its expertise by sharing the technology platform. The overall production capacity of SMC along with its Indian arm, Maruti Suzuki's two plants in Haryana will increase to 22.5 lakh units annually when all the units get commissioned.

The firm has now reportedly ramping up its electric vehicles production.

Currently, Mahindra & Mahindra leads in the production of electric vehicles while Tata Motors, Hyundai and Nissan are also working on their electric vehicle technology.

Vanessa Coleman

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