Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) is likely to launch its first electric car in 2020 with an e-version of WagonR, being developed in partnership with Toyota.

According to industry sources, Suzuki will convert the tested WagonR, which has had a great run for two decades.

“WagonR EV will be the first electric car to be launched by the company, in 2020. It will most likely be manufactured at Suzuki’s plant in Gujarat as the battery manufacturing facility of the partnership among Suzuki, Toshiba and Denso (a Toyota Company) is also coming up there,” a person in the know told BusinessLine .

‘Many options’

Sources at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) said the manufacturing facility has not been decided yet.

“There are many options. People think it will be the Gujarat factory because the battery plant is there, but it can be from any of the plants in Manesar or Gurugram (in Haryana),” said an MSIL official.

The Gurugram factory

Currently, the WagonR is manufactured at the Gurugram factory; that may continue in the future too even if the the battery and related parts are sourced from Gujarat. Most other parts are sourced from the Gurugram-Manesar belt for the petrol and CNG versions of the car.

Launched in 1999, the WagonR has proved popular with buyers; MSIL has sold more than 20-lakh units of the car, which is available in both manual and auto-gear shift versions.

“It makes sense for the company to make an electric version of WagonR as it is a five-seater and can hold the weight of the battery better than the Alto. The company has to fit the battery, controller and motor, but all the other parts can remain the same,” another person aware of the development said.

BusinessLine sought confirmation of the e-vehicle launch from both MSIL and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM).

‘No comments for now’

Both companies declined to deny or confirm the development, merely saying, “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on future product plans or strategy, till they are ready for announcement.”

According to industry experts, the Suzuki-Toyota joint venture is a win-win deal for both the companies and for users too.

“With this partnership, Indians can get access to future technology at an affordable price. Toyota, a top world player, will provide technology, and Suzuki will build it at scale with its expertise in India,” Puneet Gupta, Associate Director at IHS Markit, said.

By 2020, India is expected to have better EV infrastructure, and since MSIL has the maximum number of selling outlets in India, the market for EVs is expected to meet the government’s 2030 target for EVs.

Suzuki-Toyota pact

Suzuki and Toyota had agreed in February 2017 to jointly develop future products and sell in the Indian market, and also make India a manufacturing base to export future products to Africa and other markets.

According to their latest announcement, Denso Corporation and Toyota will provide Suzuki with technological support for a compact, ultra high-efficiency power train too, to be developed by Suzuki.

Also, while TKM will sell Baleno and Vitara Brezza made by Suzuki from its outlets, MSIL will sell Corolla Altis through Maruti’s network across India.