India’s push for electric vehicles worries Suzuki CEO
Suzuki Motor Corp CEO Toshihiro Suzuki says a sudden shift towards electrification of vehicles in India could catch the automaker 'flat-footed'
Indian government’s ambitious push to usher in 100% electric mobility by 2030 could catch Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp out in its largest market.
“As the industry shifts towards EVs (electric vehicles), when it comes to India, our volumes are so large that I worry that we could be caught flat-footed if there was a sudden shift towards electrification,” CEO Toshihiro Suzuki told Reuters.
Suzuki, which makes the Baleno compact hatchback and the Vitara Brezza compact SUV, dominates the Indian market through its majority stake in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest automaker, but neither produces battery-electric cars at the moment.
Though India’s 2030 target is on par with many European countries, its current sale of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure continue to be dismal. In 2016, only 22,000 electric vehicles were sold in India, of which four-wheeler sales was just 2,000. In Norway, half of all new vehicles are fully electric or plug-in hybrids.
Currently, there are hardly any charging stations for electric cars on the Indian highways. With only a handful of pure electric vehicles available in the country, primarily two-wheelers, most charging is done from household outlets. One of the infrastructures needed for charging these vehicles is adequate power, but in many parts of India regular electric supply continues to be an issue.
Despite all this, a rapid tightening of Indian regulations on petrol vehicles could have a big impact on Japan’s No. 4 automaker which generates roughly half of its global sales here.
In the three months to September, sales in India jumped 19.4% to 457,000 units prompting Suzuki a 25% upgrade to its full-year profit forecast to 300 billion yen (US$ 2.63 billion), which would be an all-time high.
CEO Suzuki, however, said he was ‘anxious’ about the future. “Our results may be what they are, but they don’t offer me much comfort,” he said at a results briefing.