BENGALURU — With Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp starting to test prototypes of electric vehicles in India by October and Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland already designing, prototyping and testing electric vehicles at its new plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the EV market in India is sizzling with action.

“We will start road-running tests using a fleet of 50 EV prototype vehicles in India from next month in order to develop safe and easy-to-use EVs for Indian customers,” SMC Chairman Osamu Suzuki said at the Global Mobility Summit at New Delhi on Friday.

The company would launch EVs in India around 2020 in partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. However, he said that a well-developed charging infrastructure was critical for EVs to become popular in India. “In this regard, we look forward to proactive leadership from the government,” he added.

Elsewhere, Ashok Leyland, India's second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer and fourth largest manufacturer of buses globally, celebrated its 70th year of operation. It marked the occasion by declaring it is doing its part in the Indian EV revolution by laying the foundation for its new EV centre at its Ennore factory near Chennai.

“This center will give us the edge throughout the evolution of our eMobility initiative. Our plan is to start working on new product platforms in electric vehicles such as eLCV (electric light commercial vehicle), low floor city buses, last mile connectivity and power solutions products,” Managing Director, Ashok Leyland Vinod K Dasari said.

The in-house facilities will cover testing for motors, battery modules and packs, power electronics laboratory. It is equipped with digital tools for manufacturing and field tracking. The centre along with the eMobTech centre located in IIT Madras Research Park in Adyar would be generating and implementing all the services and solutions contracts that are related in eMobility for Ashok Leyland.

The Modi government has a plan to electrify all new vehicles by 2030, a target many experts call ambitious.

EVs are expensive due to the high cost of batteries which are still not manufactured in India, and carmakers say a lack of charging stations could make the proposition unviable.

Incidentally, Suzuki would also start production of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles at its Gujarat plant from 2020, Suzuki said.

— Sufia Tippu is a freelance tech journalist based in India contributing to EE Times India