Costs that make it difficult for EV to make a good value proposition: Maruti

New Delhi, September 1 () Maruti Suzuki India, which plans to launch its first electric vehicle (EV) in the country next year, is finding that the cost of electric vehicles is prohibitive for mass adoption, in addition to charging infrastructure that proves to be a big problem, according to a senior company official.

Having started a nationwide fleet test in September last year, the company also faces a challenge about the acceptance of electric vehicles by customers and adopting a business model.

It will be difficult to make a good value proposition immediately unless the cost drops substantially, said Maruti Suzuki India, Senior Executive Director (Engineering) C V Raman.

I was answering a question about how readiness to launch EV was progressing next year.

There are still tests in progress. We are trying to understand the range, temperature, charging time, he said, however, and added that there were three main problems of cost, charging infrastructure and customer acceptance.

Currently, MSI is testing a fleet of 50 prototypes of electric vehicles based on the WagonR model platform developed by Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan.

Under current circumstances, a massive segment EV is likely to cost approximately two and a half times more than the same type of vehicle powered by a conventional engine, he added.

On cargo infrastructure issues, Raman said: According to our study, 60 percent of people do not have their own parking. There is no way they can charge. They will not adopt.

Even for fleet operators, Raman said that with current costs, electric vehicles do not offer a viable alternative to a CNG or a diesel vehicle.

When asked if that meant the company would be delayed in plans to launch the EV next year, he responded negatively.

We are still working to (launch it), he said, adding that EV is a technology that should be considered.

Battery chemistry is changing, technology is changing. We have to work and be able to do it. So, from an engineering point of view, we will continue to work on it and we will not stop, but if that translates into a product or is not a different thing, he said.

The company has also reconciled with the fact that no government support will be provided to promote the private use of electric vehicles.

Addressing shareholders last week at the company's AGM, the president of MSI, RC Bhargava, said: The fact that the FAME (II) scheme does not provide any incentive for the private purchase of electric vehicles is a very clear signal that the government does not believe that this segment is going to be important in the coming time. Last year, the president of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Osamu Suzuki, had said that the company had decided to launch EV in India around 2020 in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation. RKL MKJ

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