The road to an aggressive push towards electric vehicles of Toyota Motor Corporation, the world’s largest carmaker, is unlikely to pass through India, the fifth largest car market in the world, at least in the near future.
The Japanese automotive giant has plans to introduce 30 battery electric vehicles (BEV) globally of varying body styles, including large and compact SUVs, sedans and crossovers. But the main target markets for them will be Europe, China and North America, as per a presentation made by Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda.
While the EV penetration in the passenger vehicle segment in India stands at below 1 per cent this financial year, the three mass market electric car manufacturers – Tata Motors, MG Motor, Hyundai – have their orders books full with waiting periods stretching to six months.
Luxury brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Audi, whose electric models are typically priced above ₹1 crore, have even reported a stock sell-out. BMW, for instance, claimed it has sold out the entire stock of the all-electric iX on the first day of the launch, though it did not mention the number of bookings it had received.
Partnership with Suzuki
Toyota has a partnership with Suzuki Motor Corporation, the promoter of Indian heavyweight Maruti Suzuki. Besides product and technology sharing the partnership also encompasses future product and technology development especially for electric and hybrid vehicles.
To be sure Suzuki was one of the four companies which had partnered Toyota in April this year to develop a new range of electric vehicles. At that time Toyota had intended to have 15 BEVs, half of which were to be based on the bZ platform by 2025.
On December 14, Toyota showcased 16 concept EVs including some under the bZ series. bZ which stands for Beyond Zero is a new platform developed by Toyota specially for electrification. Europe will most likely become the first global market to get the bZ4X, the first car on the bZ platform.
“The bZ compact crossover is the most compact vehicle in the bZ series. It is a small battery EV with comfortable interiors designed with Europe and Japan in mind,” Toyoda said.
Rivals racing ahead
Both Toyota and Suzuki have lagged behind in the EV race in India even as their rivals such as Tata Motor, MG Motor, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai have raced ahead. While Maruti Suzuki and Toyota are yet to launch their first EV in India, Tata Motors has grabbed the pole position in the EV segment with a share of more than 70 percent.
Maruti Suzuki had committed to commercially launch its first fully electric car in 2020. Maruti Suzuki, which started road testing 50 BEVs in 2018, is yet to firm up plans of entering the EV space. The Delhi-based company has refrained from entering the EV segment because of the steep end-price of the vehicle because of high battery costs.