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New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country’s largest carmaker, on Wednesday unveiled its Futuro-E electric vehicle concept at the Auto Expo 2020. The is the second consecutive edition of Auto Expo wherein the vehicle manufacturer has unveiled a concept electric vehicle. The Japanese car maker is yet to launch a battery-run electric vehicle in India, though.

Despite being the market leader in combustion engine vehicles, Suzuki Motor Co’s most profitable subsidiary has been left behind the likes of Hyundai Motor Company, Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors Ltd and new entrant MG Motor India Pvt Ltd when it comes to the launch of electric vehicles.

Hyundai launched its first long range electric sport utility vehicle, Kona, in 2019 while MG Motors joined the race with the launch of ZS electric vehicle in January 2020. Both the vehicles are being brought to India in completely knocked down (CKD) form.

According to Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director of Maruti Suzuki, concept Futuro-e will introduce a fresh global design perspective to the Indian automobile landscape. The car is an electric SUV-coupe defined by its "bold and sporty characteristics."

“India is the first market where this concept car has been showcased. The India-first preview reflects the importance of Indian customers in Suzuki’s business. Concept Futuro-e has been conceptualized and designed in India by our young and bright team. As you are aware, SUV is a growing segment for India. Customers have appreciated cars that have SUV-like stance and posture," said Ayukawa.

Maruti had started testing 50 units of electric vehicle based on the Wagon R hatchback in 2018. The company had also commissioned an internal survey to gauge customer expectations regarding electric vehicles.

Unlike the South Koreans and Chinese, Japanese manufacturers such as Suzuki have been lobbying for hybrid vehicles compared to a fully battery-run electric vehicle. The company has bet big on compressed natural gas-based vehicles instead of those driven by diesel engines. Along with Toyota and Honda, the company is also lobbying for a reduction in goods and services tax of 28% on hybrid and CNG vehicles.

“We took our first step towards electrification of powertrain in 2015, with the launch of Smart Hybrid technology in Ciaz. Today five of our models come with the smart hybrid options which are low on emissions and high on fuel efficiency. Cumulatively, we have sold over a million such green cars including CNG and smart hybrid, in the last decade," added Ayukawa.

In 2017, Maruti’s parent Suzuki Motor Corp collaborated with Toyota Motor Corp to develop affordable electric and hybrid vehicles in India. Along with Toyota’s subsidiary Denso Corp, Suzuki and Toshiba Crop have formed a joint venture for setting up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Gujarat.

Ayukawa said the company is also committed to expand its CNG portfolio to include many more models in the coming years. As of now eight of 15 products of the company are fitted with CNG engines.

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