Hinduja group flagship firm Ashok Leyland will invest up to USD 200 million (nearly Rs 1,500 crore) in its electric vehicles journey through its UK-based arm Switch Mobility in the next few years, according to company officials.
Switch Mobility, which will play in the commercial e-mobility space globally for the group through next-generation electric bus and light commercial vehicles, will launch an electric light commercial vehicle (eLCV) later this year in India.
Ashok Leyland is banking on Switch Mobility to play a crucial role to achieve its ambition of being in the top ten players globally in the commercial vehicles segment through the latter's electric commercial vehicles, which would allow it to serve markets developed like the US, Europe and Japan.
"We feel very confident that we have developed products that have been accepted by the market...With 280 vehicles already on the road, we feel that Switch today will allow Ashok leyland to fulfill its long term vision of being in the global top 10 (commercial vehicles player," Ashok Leyland and Switch Mobility Chairman Dheeraj Hinduja told reporters in a virtual interaction.
He said in the past, Ashok Leyland had constraints as its product range for international markets was limited and was unable to enter markets like the US, Europe and Far East Asian markets like Japan. "With Switch, we will be able to enter markets, which Ashok Leyland so far has not been able to do," Hinduja added.
When asked about investments for the EV journey, Ashok Leyland CFO Gopal Mahadevan said, "From our perspective, if I were to put a number, I would say that we would possibly invest about 150 to 200 million (dollars) over the next few years."
As the company moves forward, the focus of the investment would be on new vehicles, prototypes, technologies and tie ups, among others. "And then as this business scales up, then we will invest further into manufacturing facility," he said.
A total of over USD 130 million has already been invested in Switch Mobility by the group. Elaborating on the future plans, Switch Mobility Ltd, UK, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Andrew Palmer said the eLCV "is the imminent launch of a value proposition for India and also for other emerging markets".
"That vehicle is currently under test. It''s also currently with a number of prospective customers as they evaluate it, and it will be launched by the end of the year," he said, adding it would be manufactured in India.
The eLCV has already received have over 2,000 orders, Palmer said adding the company is also developing a "pod" that is "slightly more sophisticated, somewhat more expensive product, which is aimed at some of those big logistic companies". "We''re working with 21 different two logistic companies around the world... and that''s (being) launched in a few years time...," he said. In future, all the EVs of the group will be launched under the Switch Mobility brand, Palmer said adding all the electric busses and vans for sale in India will be made in the country.
"India will also be the source of production for a number of other key markets and the Indian supply base will become a global supply base, to also include manufacturing of vehicles, for example, in the United Kingdom in Europe.So India is a very important place," he added. Switch Mobility was formed by merging the EV elements of Ashok Leyland and that of Optare, the UK bus manufacturer which has over a century of expertise in using the latest technologies in bus design.