Exide forays into commercial electronic vehicles space, launches e-rickshaw

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Exide Industries has forayed into the commercial electronic vehicles space by launching e-rickshaws as a part of its forward integration plans. The company thinks it will help generate at least Rs 120 crore of revenue in the very first year of full operations.

"We already have batteries for electronic vehicles and this was a natural step further as part of our forward integration plan," Gautam Chattejee, managing director and CEO of Exide Industries said.

Exide is using its own battery to power the vehicle while all other parts are largely being sourced from China and are assembled in its plant in Dankuni in West Bengal. However, the company is aiming to increase indigenisation of the product.

Arun Mittal, director of the automotive business at Exide said that the e-rickshaw market in the country is pegged at around 2 billion units and around 100,000-200,000 new e-rickshaws are getting added every year which puts the growth rate at around 10 per cent. However, a large portion of the market is unorganised and there are too few players like Mahindra and TVS who operate in this segment.

"In the first full year of operations (fiscal year 2020-2021), we aim to bag a 10 per cent market share in e-rickshaws,"  Mittal said.

Priced at Rs 1.2 lakh, these e-rickshaws will be initially made available across West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR and the north-east where such permits have been issued. For the western and southern region, the legalities of e-rickshaws is yet to be worked out.

Moreover, in the next six months, Exide will be coming up with a lithium-ion variant of the same e-rickshaw which will be priced higher than the existing one.

Chatterjee said the company is in talks with finance companies and intermediate distributors to come up with leasing schemes for such vehicles.

“There is going to be a good amount of price difference between the models with lithium ion battery and those with lead acid. Thus, the upfront payment for the lithium ion variant will be high and many people will not be comfortable with this. So we need to come up with leasing schemes," Chatterjee said.

Typically, in an e-rickshaw, the battery alone comprises 40 per cent of the total cost of the vehicle at the factory-gate level and the rest 60 per cent comprises of the body, lights, panels, tyres and others. Prices of lithium ion batteries are around 4-5 times higher than lead acid batteries.

Exide’s facility in Gujarat is expected to commence production of lithium ion battery cells December onwards. It has formed a 75:25 joint venture with Swiss firm Leclanche to take forward its lithium ion venture and has already invested around Rs 100 crore. Another Rs 100 crore is expected by the end of March 2020.

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