Addressing shareholders in the latest annual report Bhargava said, the company was quite optimistic about the outlook for FY 2021-22 in March 2021. However, the suddenness and the ferocity of the second wave of the pandemic took everyone by surprise, and led to lockdowns and restrictions in most parts of the country. First quarter sales were limited at 353,600 units.
“The performance in the next three quarters largely depends on how effectively all our citizens follow the government’s advice to get vaccinated and observe safety protocols. If we can avert the third wave, or substantially reduce its effect, and there are no further waves, economic activities and sale of cars can improve significantly over what was achieved last year”, said Bhargava.
Maruti Suzuki Managing Director Kenichi Ayukawa while admitting last fiscal year to be full of “challenges and surprises”, said economic prospects mid-term seem to be promising. With support from parent Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), the company intends to introduce relevant products and technologies to strengthen its presence locally. “Although the country is navigating through tough times, its economic prospects appear to be promising over the medium term. With support from SMC in terms of relevant product and technologies, the company will continue to work on all the enablers to cash-in on the opportunities”, informed Ayukawa.
In its recent mid-term plan, Suzuki Motor Corp indicated to offer relevant products such as utility vehicles (UV) to strengthen the company’s product line-up, promote the penetration of hybrids and introduce EVs. The partnership between Suzuki Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation will additionally help the company in gaining access to hybrid technology, Ayukawa added.
Bhargava said to reduce vehicular pollution and carbon footprint, parent Suzuki Motor Corporation (Japan) is giving priority to the development of technologies suitable for the Indian market.
He added large resources being ploughed into technology developments will eventually lead to a reduction in the cost of electric vehicles, and dependence on lithium, procurement of which poses some strategic issues of national importance. The time frame for the same though is uncertain. Meanwhile, to lower crude import and carbon emissions, Maruti Suzuki will work on improving the technology for CNG-powered vehicles.
With the government developing the infrastructure for CNG distribution, consumers already seem to be showing an increased preference for vehicles powered by the fuel. In the last financial year itself, while overall sales of Maruti Suzuki declined 8%, sales of CNG vehicles rose 50%.
“Hybrid technology also leads to a significant reduction in fuel consumption and emissions and is another area for our engineers to work. Thus, these two technologies (CNG and hybrids), coupled with biofuels, gives the country a means of moving towards the final goal of net zero emission. The use of hydrogen is also an interesting alternative and should be considered specially to reduce dependence on importing lithium”, held Bhargava.
Globally, Suzuki Motor Corporation formulated the Suzuki Environmental Vision 2050 to move towards carbon neutrality in new vehicles and business operations. To this end, a project has been initiated to develop strategies and action plans aimed at minimizing the company’s carbon footprint.
For electrification of powertrain, Suzuki Motor Corporation, in a joint venture with Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation, is setting-up India’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant with cell level localisation. Additionally, to make the entire life cycle of a car sustainable, Maruti Suzuki has established a joint venture with Toyota Tsusho Group – Maruti Suzuki Toyotsu India Private Limited (MSTI) – for setting up a vehicle dismantling and recycling facility. The facility will be commissioned shortly.