Suzuki to start testing EV prototype in India from October: chairman

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Japans’s Suzuki Motor Corp will start testing prototypes of electric vehicles in India by October, its chairman said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO The logo of Suzuki Motor Corp. is pictured at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo, Japan October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

“We will start road-running tests using a fleet of 50 EV prototype vehicles in India from next month in order to develop safe and easy-to-use EVs for Indian customers,” Osamu Suzuki said at the Global Mobility Summit at New Delhi.

The company would launch EVs in India around 2020 in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corp, he added.

However, Suzuki said that for EVs to become popular in India there had to be well-developed charging infrastructure.

“In this regard, we look forward to proactive leadership from the Indian government,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a plan to electrify all new vehicles by 2030, a target many experts call ambitious.

EVs are expensive due to the high cost of batteries which are still not manufactured in India, and carmakers say a lack of charging stations could make the proposition unviable.

The parent of India’s top-selling automaker, Maruti Suzuki Ltd, would start production of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles at its plant in western India from 2020, Suzuki said.

India is one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets, but EV sales are negligible compared with millions of petrol and diesel cars sold every year.

Suzuki said to meet environmental challenges, India would have to look at hybrid and CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles also.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Stephen Coates