Maruti Suzuki will supply the Government of India with an unspecified number of hybrid versions of the Swift hatchback, christened Swift Range Extender. The cars will be provided in the financial year 2015, after the upcoming elections, as a part of the company’s pilot project. The car, a plug-in hybrid version, was unveiled in India last month in a production ready avatar, at the Delhi Auto Expo.
Quoting an anonymous source, an Autocar Professional report said, “While the homologation process of the hybrid Swift is nearly completed, the team is expecting ARAI certification anytime now.” The source also added that more details on the project would be revealed by the first quarter of the 2015 financial year.
The Maruti Suzuki Swift Range Extender will be powered by a three-pot 658cc engine and a 73bhp AC synchronous motor. Despite weighing around 130kgs more than the regular Swift, Maruti claims that the car will return an astonishing 48.2kmpl in a combined cycle. The 5kWh lithium ion battery on its own is capable of extending the car’s range by 25.5kms and can be fully recharged in 90 minutes. While the production model of the car has been developed in India itself, the major electrical components, specific to the hybrid, have been imported.
While pure-electric vehicles face the problems of short range and long hours of recharging, the plug-in hybrids offer you the best of both worlds. Though Honda was the first manufacturer to come out with the Civic Hybrid back in 2006, the CBU failed to sell in high numbers due to its high price tag (courtesy Government's import duty) and was phased out in 2010. The Indian hybrid market is still in its nascent stage and the Toyota Prius and the Camry-hybrid, are the only two proper hybrid cars you can buy. High costs and the lack of Government subsidy are one of the main reasons for the lack of vehicles of this genre, though this might soon change with the introduction of National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020. Besides the Maruti Suzuki Swift Range Extender, we had also witnessed Mahindra’s XUV500 Hybrid, the world’s first diesel hybrid. Though the Mahindra might take some time, the Swift Range Extender is expected to be hit our roads by the end of the year.