Maruti Suzuki, which has developed production-ready Swift hybrid hatchbacks (christened ‘Swift Range Extender’), is all set to supply an undisclosed number of these hatchbacks to the government as a part of a pilot project during FY 2014-15. The carmaker had showcased the ‘green’ Swift at the Auto Expo 2014 in February.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, a source close to the project said: “While the homologation process of the hybrid Swift is nearly completed, the team is expecting ARAI certification anytime now. Secondly, the officials at Maruti Suzuki are awaiting orders from the government to supply an undisclosed number of these Swift hybrids to the latter as a part of the pilot plan. However, due to the upcoming elections, the dates are not yet known. But we can safely say that by the first quarter of next financial year (FY2014-15), the picture on this project would be clearer.”
The Maruti Suzuki Swift Range Extender runs on an inline three-cylinder, 658cc petrol engine (borrowed from Suzuki, Japan) and is also equipped with a front-axle mounted 55KW electric motor, which is powered by a 5kWh lithium ion battery.
According to company sources, while the production-ready model has been developed in India, all the major electric gear (such as the electric motor, battery and other components) required for this project was imported from Japan and other countries. The Swift hybrid model is around 130kg heavier than its conventional petrol-engined counterpart currently sold in India, which weighs between 960-990kg (kerb weight).
Maruti’s internal tests claim that the Swift Range Extender offers a combined fuel efficiency of up to 48.2km per litre, which includes a 25.5km run powered by the fully-charged battery. The battery, according to company data, takes nearly 90 minutes to get fully charged.
While the company (along with other OEMs such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, TVS Motor Co and others) is eagerly waiting for the implementation of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, it is known that the Department of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises has written to the Finance Ministry seeking a grant of Rs 230-300 crore for kick-starting a series of pilot projects (public transportation through electric vehicles) from April 2014.
Though the commercial production of the Swift hybrid hatchbacks would depend on the status of the said pilot project(s), the battery operated variants would be possibly seen on the Indian roads later this year.