Exclusive: Maruti Suzuki, Toyota India’s first EV to be a global midsize SUV

by Hormazd Sorabjee, Autocar India 10 Feb 2022


Maruti Suzuki and Toyota may be conspicuous by their absence in the Indian EV segment for now, however, we can confirm that their first EVs for our market will be a midsize SUV. Unlike the Baleno-Glanza and Brezza-Urban Cruiser badge engineering exercises, each brand will have its own distinctive styling for this all-electric SUV. 

The Maruti Suzuki version (codename: YY8) will sport a new design language that is expected to be futuristic and radically different from the mundane styling of the current IC (internal combustion) engine range.

Designed not just for India but as a global car, Suzuki and Toyota have big plans for exporting the model. As such, it will be manufactured in Suzuki’s Gujarat plant for India as well as international markets.

Maruti Suzuki-Toyota electric midsize SUV: dimensions
What comes as a surprise, or rather a shock (pun intended!), are the dimensions of the YY8. This is not a compact, sub-4 metre WagonR kind of car many are expecting, but a 4.2-metre long SUV that’s even bigger and wider than a Creta! In fact, for size, it competes more with the MG ZS EV, the largest of the current crop of mainstream EVs.

Like most ‘born electric’ EVs, the YY8 has a long wheelbase, 2,700mm to be precise. Modern electric platforms or skateboards come with slim, flat battery packs designed to sit within the wheelbase for optimal packaging and weight distribution. Hence, a long wheelbase is a key consideration in the development of an electric skateboard as wheelbase length has a direct correlation to the size of the battery.

Maruti Suzuki-Toyota electric midsize SUV: range, battery, motor power
The YY8 is being developed in both two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. The base two-wheel-drive variant is expected to get a single 138hp motor and a 48kWh battery pack, which is good for an approximate range of 400km under standard test conditions. The all-wheel-drive variant, powered by two electric motors, should produce a combined 170hp and get a larger 59kWh battery pack, which boosts range to an estimated 500km in real world conditions.

It’s not clear if the all-wheel-drive version of the YY8 will be offered in the domestic market or is mainly for exports.

On the other hand, the Toyota derivative is likely to be launched in India with both two-wheel and all-wheel drive options. In fact, the Toyota badged version of the YY8 will have identical specifications, but external dimensions may vary as the design and styling will be completely different and along the lines of the BZ4X EV.

Maruti Suzuki-Toyota electric midsize SUV: bespoke platform to open up huge cabin space
The YY8 will be based on the 27PL platform, a skateboard architecture meant for small electric vehicles, derived from Toyota’s 40PL global platform. Considering the packaging freedom offered by such a born electric architecture – something that both Maruti Suzuki and Toyota will take full advantage of the interiors of the YY8 are likely to be revolutionary. 

With no engine compartment, transmission tunnel and centre console to worry about, the 40PL platform will allow designers to push the cabin to all corners of the car, which will free up a huge amount of interior space.

Maruti Suzuki-Toyota electric midsize SUV to use made-in-India battery pack
The YY8 and all its derivatives will no doubt have a high level of local content, including the battery pack, which will be sourced from TDSG, a large-scale battery manufacturing joint-venture between Suzuki Motor Corp., Denso Corp., and Toshiba Corp set up in Gujarat to locally manufacture lithium-ion battery packs.

Locally sourcing the battery pack, which is singularly the most expensive component of an EV, will no doubt give a big cost advantage over rival manufacturers who at best locally assemble imported battery packs. However, there are no immediate plans for manufacturing lithium-ion cells, which will be imported from BYD – one of the world’s leading battery makers in China. 

Maruti Suzuki-Toyota electric midsize SUV: price estimate, launch timeline
The Maruti Suzuki YY8 and its Toyota equivalent are likely to launch in India by 2025. Pricing, of course, is one of Maruti’s biggest strengths and there’s no doubt that the YY8 will be extremely price competitive. Sources say that the company is targeting a price in the Rs 13 lakh-15 lakh range, which, given the YY8’s size, specs and tech, makes every other EV, including the bestselling Nexon EV (Rs 14.29 lakh-16.90 lakh, ex-showroom), look overpriced.

It remains to be seen at what price the YY8 is finally launched, but what’s for sure is that this model will be a game changer for Maruti Suzuki. Built on a dedicated, global EV skateboard, the YY8, with its mix of the latest tech and affordability, could be Maruti Suzuki’s ticket to leapfrog in the EV race. India’s number one automaker wouldn’t want it any other way.