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Exide looks to start making batteries for electric vehicles

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-07-2017 Soumonty Kanungo

Exide Industries Ltd is looking to start producing batteries for electric vehicles, managing director and chief executive officer Gautam Chatterjee said on the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

The e-rickshaw market offers “huge opportunities” for growth because sales of e-rickshaws have expanded “spontaneously” without much government backing, Chatterjee said, adding that around one million e-rickshaws have already been launched on Indian roads.

E-rickshaws run mostly on cheap batteries that typically last 9-12 months, he said.

E-rickshaws could potentially offset the recent decline in sales of inverter batteries, said Chatterjee.

E-rickshaws use four batteries of a much bigger capacity than those used in cars. The consumption of batteries in e-rickshaws is estimated at 30 times per vehicle compared with cars, Chatterjee said.

Exide is also exploring the market to launch batteries for electric two-wheelers.

However, the two-wheelers run only on lithium-ion batteries, which are more expensive, Chatterjee said, adding that production of these batteries would start when demand for electric two-wheelers picks up.

Both the new offerings are to be developed with technology sourced in partnership with other manufacturers, he added.

The implementation of the goods and services tax has created an opportunity for organized-sector battery manufacturers to expand their market share, according to Chatterjee.

Battery manufacturers in the unorganized sector, who currently control 35-40% of the replacement market, mostly didn’t pay taxes, he said.

Under the new tax regime, the pricing edge of manufacturers in the unorganized sector is largely lost and Exide is using its competitively priced Dynex brand to penetrate the market controlled by them.

Exide is looking to sell at least one million Dynex batteries in the current fiscal year, Chatterjee said.

About the dispute between Exide and the US’s Exide Technologies over the use of the Exide trademark in India, Chatterjee said both companies were moving towards settling the issues, and that if the US-based company wished to sell its mothballed manufacturing facility in Gujarat, his company would consider buying it.

However, Exide Technologies’ Indian brand Prestolite was not attractive from the standpoint of goodwill, Chatterjee said adding Exide was unlikely to be interested in buying it.

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