Is Gujarat becoming India’s Detroit for Electric Vehicles (EVs)?, ET Auto
Is Gujarat becoming India’s Detroit for Electric Vehicles (EVs)?, ET Auto

Is Gujarat becoming India’s Detroit for Electric Vehicles (EVs)?, ET Auto

February 20, 2024
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<p>Several homegrown corporations including Torrent Power, Adani Total Energies E-Mobility, and even Reliance Jio BP have rolled out charging infrastructure across the state over the past couple of years. </p>
Several homegrown corporations including Torrent Power, Adani Total Energies E-Mobility, and even Reliance Jio BP have rolled out charging infrastructure across the state over the past couple of years.

The electric vehicles and ancillaries sector is one of the key sectors in driving India’s self-reliance journey, eventually paving the way for reducing import dependence on oil.

As the demand for electric vehicles is increasing given an improving infrastructure for charging, better battery technologies and subsidies doled out by govt reducing the cost of ownership, Gujarat is making fresh headways in deepening and expanding its EV ecosystem. In 2023, the sale of EVs in Gujarat grew 28% at 88,619 vehicles compared to 68,997 vehicles retailed in 2022.

However, over three years, i.e. against 10,885 units retailed in 2021, EV sales in Gujarat have gone up 714%. Driven by high demand and an ecosystem push in Gujarat, an increasing number of car manufacturers are eyeing Gujarat for investments while existing ones are looking to expand. MG Motors recently began manufacturing its newly launched EV at its plant in Halol. The company has already announced its second plant with a INR 5,000 crore investment in Halol to ramp up automobile manufacturing capacity with a special focus on EVs.

India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), which recently acquired full stake in the Suzuki Motor Gujarat (SMG) plant, has announced that its first electric vehicle will be rolled out of Gujarat this year. The company’s electric SUV — eVX, which was showcased as a concept model at auto expo last year, will soon be rolled out of the Gujarat plant in Hansalpur. “Besides supplying it in the domestic market, MSIL will also export its first EV to other countries,” according to the company’s stock exchange filing. The stride is part of MSIL’s agreement with the state govt here to invest INR 3,000 crore for EV manufacturing.

An additional assembly line will be added to the Hansalpur plant where the company already has an annual manufacturing capacity of some 7.5 lakh vehicles. Similar is the case of Tata Motors, which recently operationalized its newly acquired car manufacturing plant in Sanand, from Ford Motor Company in Jan this year. “The new plant acquired from Ford commenced production for PVs in Jan and will commence the production of Nexon EV from April this year.

It will be the first electric car to be built at the new Sanand plant,” the company said. After manufacturing EV variants of its popular models, Tiago, Tigor, and XPRES-T in Sanand, the company also has grand plans for the new facility, which has an annual production capacity of 3 lakh units scalable to 4.2 lakh units per annum.

Ecosystem driving demands

Automobile industry experts have voiced the need for better battery technologies and charging infrastructure to drive demand for EVs. The transformation in Gujarat is evident with the steep surge in EV sales. Putting this in perspective, Balaje Rajan, chief strategy officer, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Ltd & Tata Passenger Electric Mobility Ltd, said, “The EV ecosystem in Gujarat is growing at a rapid pace, tripling in size from 200 public charging stations in April 2023 to over 600 stations now. The ecosystem in Gujarat is vibrant with multiple local players offering seamless and convenient charging experiences and innovative business models.”

He added, “The charging network has also penetrated tier 2 towns such as Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, and Mehsana, among others, and highways connecting several towns. This is helping the widespread adoption of EVs across the state. In addition, our customer data shows that over 33% of EV owners in Gujarat have solar solutions at home, which makes their EV charging completely green. This is a growing trend that we expect to spread to other states as well.”

Several homegrown corporations including Torrent Power, Adani Total Energies E-Mobility, and even Reliance Jio BP have rolled out charging infrastructure across the state over the past couple of years. This not only includes public charging points but also fast charging technologies. Both Torrent and Adani have recently forged collaborations for ramping up EV charging infrastructure.

Adani Total Energies E-Mobility Limited collaborated with Servotech Power Systems to manufacture, supply, and install EV charging stations at airports and other places. Similarly, Torrent Power has collaborated with Siemens to develop the EV charging network.

Investments in battery technology on the rise

Automakers have remained focused on reducing manufacturing costs and providing seamless access with optimal charging technology and infrastructure in place. Local capacities for battery manufacturing are a big step in this direction and OEMs are taking an active interest in this direction. For instance, MSIL has invested in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing in Gujarat and plans to have 15% of its annual car sales coming from electric vehicles and 25% from hybrid vehicles by FY2030-31.

Suzuki Motor Corporation has already announced plans to invest in Gujarat to construct a plant to manufacture BEV batteries. The Toshiba Denso Suzuki Lithium-ion Battery Gujarat Private Limited (TDSG) is India’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant with cell-level localization. TDSG is a collaboration between Toshiba, Denso, and Suzuki. The Tata Group also signed a memorandum of understanding with state govt, committing to investINR 13,000 crore to build an EV battery plant in Sanand, with a manufacturing capacity of 20GWh. Even a fairly younger venture like WardWizard Innovations and Mobility also operationalized its 1GW assembly line in Vadodara for locally manufacturing its battery packs last year.

Two-wheeler, commercial vehicle players also eye Gujarat

Over and above electric cars, electric two-wheeler manufacturers are equally bullish. A renewed focus on electric mobility has led to new players investing and expanding their presence in Gujarat over the past few years. For instance, Triton EV India Private Limited has developed a 3 lakh square feet pilot facility to manufacture electric trucks of various load capacities in Kheda, Gujarat.

Industry sources revealed an investment ofINR 300 crore in this direction. The company plans to launch a main plant in Bhuj over the coming months. TEV unveiled the industry’s first electric truck which is ‘Make in India’ at its R&D centre in Kheda last year. “Our main truck manufacturing plant will come up in Bhuj. We are also working to get the hydrogen scooter and hydrogen threewheeler ready for manufacturing. We will be producing EV trucks for domestic as well as global markets. We are also mulling over initiating our assembly facility for trucks,” said Himanshu Patel, CMD, Triton EV.

Ahmedabad-based Odysse Electric Vehicles, a two-wheeler EV manufacturer, is planning to set up its second plant near Ahmedabad. Nemin Vora, MD, Odysse EV said, “We have a 90,000 two-wheeler per annum capacity plant in Changodar and are planning to set up a plant with a capacity to manufacture 30,000 vehicles per month near Ahmedabad. We plan to invest aroundINR 35-40 crore for the new plant.”

Startups fuel EV ecosystem with technology backup

Gujarat’s EV push is not only limited to the manufacturing of electric vehicles but also the strengthening of an ecosystem around it. This includes charging infrastructure, battery technology and other technologies that enable higher energy efficiency in EVs, making the transition to EVs more convenient and efficient. Industry experts revealed that startups have played a huge role in channelling their resources into technology improvement to attain better efficiencies.

A recent analysis by iHub revealed that about 12% of Gujarat-based startups are active in the deep tech vertical including EVs. Mukesh Kumar, principal secretary of higher and technical education, who is helming the state govt-supported incubator iHub, said that sectors such as semiconductors and EVs with the recent developments in the state will continue to see growth in 2024. “Some of the emerging sectors where we see traction include fintech, EV and green energy,” he said.

Domain experts said that while some of the startups have created full-fledged vehicles — primarily two-wheelers — the majority of the work is in batteries, peripherals and charging station networks. Some startups are also working on alternative power systems such as fuel cells for EVs. The experts have also advocated capacity-building by introducing specialized courses at engineering colleges and ITIs for research and development in the EV sector. “With policy push from both central and state govts, we see a lot of enthusiasm around startups. With emerging sectors in Gujarat such as semiconductors and EV, we see ample scope for startups to be part of the ecosystem,” said Srinivasa Rao Sureddi, CEO, Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC).

  • Published On Feb 12, 2024 at 11:17 AM IST

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