Suzuki Motor turns to Toyota for lessons on small EVs

An employee cleans the logo of Suzuki in the Hungarian plant of Japanese car maker Suzuki in Esztergom

By Aditi Shah

GREATER NOIDA, India (Reuters) - Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp (SMC) plans to learn from partner Toyota Motor Corp how to use EV technology to build small electric cars, its president Toshihiro Suzuki told reporters during India's biennial car show on Wednesday.

Suzuki said it is learning EV and other technologies from Toyota with a goal to develop cars that are more in line with its own products.

"So how to introduce this EV technology on small cars is something we need to work upon and share with Toyota," he said on the sidelines of the car show.

After a slow start to EVs, Toyota – which has a 4.89% stake in Suzuki – is considering a reboot of its electric car strategy given the rise in popularity of Tesla's cars.

The Japanese car giant's planning previously assumed demand for EVs would not take off for several decades, Reuters reported last year.

When asked if SMC would consider launching EVs built on gasoline engine platforms, Suzuki said the company needed to develop an EV from scratch.

India's EV market has gained momentum. Tata Motors, which dominates electric car sales in the country, as well as foreign players SAIC Motor's MG Motor, Mercedes Benz and Stellantis have lined up launches. With planned investments of up to $1.3 billion to make EVs and batteries locally, Suzuki is pushing deeper into India, which is set to become an EV hub for the Japanese carmaker.

Suzuki is the majority-owner of Maruti, which has faced growing competition from rivals as buyers shift to bigger cars such as SUVs and regulators demand safer and greener cars, increasing costs. This has pushed its market share to under 43% from over 50% in 2019.

GRAPHIC: Maruti Suzuki losing ground to rivals in India - https://www.reuters.com/graphics/INDIA-AUTOSHOW/dwpkdadbrvm/chart.png

"One of the reasons we could not sustain 50% market share ... there was a delay in launching SUVs at our end," Suzuki Motor Corp president Toshihiro Suzuki said, adding the company was trying to recover its market share by launching more SUVs.

"We see potential of long term growth in the small car segment. We have to make effort for deeper penetration and further spread the sale of compact and small cars in India," he said, adding Suzuki would work with Maruti to regain market share.

Maruti dominates car sales in India with its small, low-cost vehicles, making the South Asian nation one of the most important markets for the Japanese company.

India contributes 50% to 60% in revenues to SMC and this ratio is likely to increase in the future, Suzuki said at the event held on the outskirts of the capital city of New Delhi.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Writing by Nandan Mandayam; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Barbara Lewis)