The logo of Suzuki Motor. Photo: Reuters
In an indication of future plans to introduce electric mobility in its biggest market, Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), the parent company of Maruti, said it would invest Rs 1,200 crore in setting up facilities to produce automotive lithium-ion battery packs in India. The investment will be made through a joint venture with Toshiba and Denso. SMC will have a 50 per cent equity in the project while the two partners will have 25 per cent each. Further investments will be done as and when required.
The automotive batteries find application in electric vehicles. India does not have any significant manufacturing of such automotive batteries and there is no ecosystem either. The industry relies on imports. Explaining the interest in India, SMC said a "higher attention is being paid to environment (in India), and new CO2 standards for automobiles are planned to be introduced". For SMC, India is the largest and a fast-growing market, where it aims to sell two million vehicles by 2020. This will be SMC's second major investment in the country. The Japanese automobile firm is investing Rs 5,800 crore in setting up its first car manufacturing capacity in the country. Its Gujarat unit, which became operational in February, sells cars to Maruti.
In the Indian automotive market, where compact cars are mainstream models, introduction of sustainable technology suitable for such affordable cars is required. "The battery pack manufacturing joint venture by the three companies will realise stable supply of lithium-ion battery packs in India in the course of promoting sustainable cars in the country and will contribute to Make in India," SMC said in a statement.
File photo of an automotive lithium-ion battery. Photo: Reuters
The joint venture company will be established within 2017 and shall move to the manufacturing phase at earliest possible timing. The details related to location of the plant have not been disclosed.
SMC announced a partnership with its Japanese peer Toyota Motor Corporation in February to work in areas such as environmental technologies, safety technologies, information technologies, and mutual supply of products and components. This agreement will have implications for the Indian market.
R C Bhargava, chairman at Maruti Suzuki, recently said, "Since the cost of developing new technologies is getting more expensive, it becomes imperative for companies to partner, so that the cost can be spread over a larger number of vehicles." Maruti Suzuki did not comment on Friday's announcement from its parent.