Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), India’s largest carmaker, has alluded that it will be launching a crossed-badged version of the Toyota Hycross. MSIL chairman RC Bhargava says that a three-row, strong hybrid vehicle will be sourced from Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM). "The vehicle will be a strong hybrid, three-row, top-of-the-line, kind of vehicle in terms of price. It’s a path-breaker vehicle because it’ll be carbon-friendly. It will be a strong hybrid vehicle, and we will be introducing it in two months or so," says Bhargava.

Bhargava estimates volumes of between 9,000 to 10,000 units annually. "The volumes will be a lot less than what we normally sell, because it is going to be at the upper end of the market,” he adds. However, Toyota itself is facing supply-chain issues to manufacture the Hycross, and has temporarily suspended bookings of the top-end variants of the car. “Owing to the ongoing supply challenges, we deeply regret to announce the temporary halt of bookings for top-end grades of Innova Hycross i.e., ZX and ZX (O). The bookings of the other grades of Innova Hycross both the hybrid and gasoline will continue. We are doing our best to resume the Innova Hycross bookings for the said variants at the earliest," the company said in a statement.

However, Bhargava says that irrespective of the supply-chain constraints, TKM will supply vehicles to MSIL. "We have an agreement in place. Irrespective of their demand, they will supply us the vehicles, just like we do," he clarifies. MSIL currently supplies TKM the Baleno, which the latter rebadges and sells as the Glanza. Similarly, TKM supplies the Hyryder to MSIL, which is rebadged and sold as the Grand Vitara. In the January-March period, 22,389 strong-hybrid vehicles were sold, out of which 18,584 vehicles were sold by TKM, according to dealer data. Strong-hybrid vehicles pipped battery electric vehicles in the same period, as only 21,109 BEV vehicles were sold in the same period. For MSIL, strong hybrid variants of the Grand Vitara made up for 35-40% of the demand for the vehicle in the quarter.

Globally, Suzuki is also planning to learn from Toyota Motor Corporation—which has a 4.89% stake in Suzuki—on how to use EV technology to build small electric cars which are in line with its own portfolio. "So how to introduce this EV technology on small cars is something we need to work upon and share with Toyota," Toshihiro Suzuki, president and representative director, Suzuki Motor Corporation, said at the sidelines of the Auto Expo 2023.

MSIL looks to up the ante of its utility vehicles portfolio—as only SUVs made up for 43% of its volumes in the quarter—as it looks to regain its 50% market share. "Market share is something which is not entirely in our hands, as we too were constrained by production limitations, but we would like it to be close to 50%," says Bhargava. The company lost out on 1,70,000 units in production because of production-related constraints—primarily due to chip shortage—and currently has an order backlog of 4,12,000 units. According to a brokerage report by Prabhudas Lilladher, utility vehicles will make up for around 27% in FY2023-24, compared to around 21% in FY2022-23.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Instagram to never miss an update from Fortune India. To buy a copy, visit Amazon.