Toyota collaborates with Suzuki to produce hybrid cars in India

Though criticized for being slow to the EV market, Toyota has argued that most markets don't have the infrastructure to support battery electric vehicles just yet

Toyota alongside its fellow Japanese automobile maker, Suzuki released a statement on Friday that they would begin the production of hybrid cars in India. Toyota says this type of car is best suited to the Indian market.

In fact, a Toyota car plant in southern India would commence operation as soon as August. The plant would start working on SUVs developed by Suzuki.

Two power trains would then be made available according to them. One with a mild-hybrid configuration from Suzuki and the other as a strong hybrid from Toyota. In a mild hybrid, the battery only assists the piston engine without the all-electric mode available in a strong hybrid.

Cars made in these plants will be sold both in India and exported to foreign markets including Africa. The partnership between the two Japanese giant automakers began back in 2017.

On the other hand, Green investors have criticized Toyota which happens to be the world’s largest carmaker by sales for its slowness in switching over to producing all-electric cars.

Another argument made by Toyota is that the majority of the electricity generated in most developing countries are from burning coals or other fossil fuel. But considering the fact that BEVs are there to better clean the environment and reduce carbon emissions, this will definitely be a no-brainer.

The Japanese automaker giant last year was committed to spending about $60 billion by 2030 to electrify its range of vehicle models, but only half of that for the development of fully-electric vehicles.

The new SUV, which has not been named, will be marketed as both a Toyota and a Suzuki, each company relying on its local affiliate to do so, they said in their joint statement.

India, however, wants car makers to build more electric cars even though reactions to this have been rather slow with only Tata Motors being the local automaker doing so.

Suzuki committed in March to investing $1.4 billion in the country to produce BEVs and batteries, but its local unit, Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest carmaker, has said it will not launch a fully electric vehicle before 2025.

Toyota on the other hand is set to build a supply chain for electric vehicles in India before making BEVs in the country. It also announced back in May that it would invest over $600 million to make India a global production hub for EV parts including electric drives.

At the moment, BEVs are expensive and are not affordable by the mainstream car buyers, especially in India which is a developing economy but with complex hybrids such as the Prius whose manufacturing cost Toyota has had trouble cutting.

This is among the reasons why Toyota partnered with Suzuki, which has championed low-cost manufacturing in India. The two agreements include joint product development, lowering local sourcing costs, and sharing technology.

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