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Suzuki Motorcycle India, the local two-wheeler subsidiary of Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corp, is planning to bring in electric two-wheelers to the Indian market by 2020. The timeframe coincides with the plans of Suzuki’s Indian car- maker unit, Maruti Suzuki, to launch an electric car here.
It was a meeting between Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 that triggered the plans for Suzuki to invest locally for electric vehicles. Suzuki, along with Denso and Toshiba, has committed to investing Rs 1,700 crore in setting up a battery-making facility in Gujarat.
Suzuki Motorcycle India has requested the headquarters in Japan for an electric scooter as well as an electric motorcycle for the local market. Suzuki has set up a project team of five people and engaged KPMG to help devise electric vehicle solutions.
While the immediate priority is scooters, Suzuki plans to launch electric motorcycles as well.
Suzuki Motorcycle managing director Satoshi Uchida said his company wanted to support the government’s vision of electrifying vehicles on the Indian roads and the parent company’s investment in the battery factory would be of great help in this direction.
“The cost of electric scooter is still high when compared to the conventional scooters. We are currently studying as to how can we offer an electric scooter that is accessible and addresses the range issue. We should have an electric scooter for India by 2020,” Uchida told ET.
The company believes that the adoption of electrification in two-wheelers could be much faster than in other segments. Suzuki is exploring the possibility of introducing swappable batteries to address the range anxiety challenge.
Suzuki Motorcycle developed an electric scooter, Lets, way back in 2011 with a small 100-volt battery that delivered a range of 30 kilometres on full charge. While the price of the scooter was a challenge at the time, technology has since changed and the cost has come down. The new Suzuki product for India is expected to be much more enhanced than what it had delivered before.
While it is a marginal player in the Indian two-wheeler market, Suzuki Motorcycle is the leader in the 125cc scooter segment with its Access brand. The company has strategically decided to exit the mass market motorcycle segment to focus on the premium end of the market. Both scooters and motorcycles as well as electric vehicles are important parts of the future road map.
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