Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest carmaker, has urged the government to back hybrid cars as much as pure electric vehicles (EVs).
The company’s call coincides with the release of a new hybrid model, the Grand Vitara sport utility vehicle (SUV), that is intended to compete with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motor.
India’s taxes on hybrid cars are as high as 43%, compared with 5% for EVs, and Maruti Suzuki chief executive Hisashi Takeuchi said he hoped more government support for hybrids would be forthcoming.
“The government’s support to EVs is good … to support some more green technology is even better,” he said on Wednesday. “I believe the government will support all technologies as far as they are good and contribute to a better India.”
Maruti has said it will not launch a pure EV before 2025, and even then, Takeuchi said, decarbonisation plans cover other clean technologies, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), bio fuels, flex fuel and hybrids.
The first model to be developed by parent company Suzuki and Toyota, the Grand Vitara will be built at Toyota’s India factory.
Its hybrid power train from Toyota will offer fuel economy of nearly 28 km per litre. Maruti will export the vehicle to countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East, Takeuchi said.
With the launch of the Grand Vitara set for September, Maruti enters a segment that contributes a fifth of all car sales in India.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell