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Electric-bike makers to set up own plants

Archana Mohan  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad 

With battery operated two-wheelers beginning to find favour with consumers and even competing with petrol scooterettes in tier-II and tier III cities, manufacturers of these electric vehicles, also called e-bikes, are now planning to make the vehicles more localised by establishing or acquiring battery manufacturing plants and sourcing parts from India itself.
They are also looking at exporting the vehicles.
Taking the lead is Ahmedabad-based Electrotherm, the first e-bike manufacturer in the country to have acquired the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI)'s approval to manufacture an electric two-wheeler in the 750 watts category.
The company has just acquired a battery manufacturing firm in China which has a capacity to manufacture 8,000 units of batteries per month, which would cater to close to one lakh vehicles to be rolled from its manufacturing plant at Kutch in Gujarat.
The batteries from the acquired plant would be utilised within the company for its existing range of two-wheelers as well as newer products in the pipeline like an autorickshaw, a four wheeler most likely a pick-up truck and a hybrid bus among others which have been or will be sent to the ARAI
Similarly, another early bird in the e-bike business, the Pune-based Ace-Motors is planning to set up its own battery manufacturing plant in Chakan, Pune as a JV with a foreign firm.
Kumar Raval, managing director of the company confirmed that he had just been to China to look over some proposals he had received from e-bike manufacturers there.
The company plans to fit in its own batteries for its two-wheelers and will also be selling them to other electric two-wheeler brands mushrooming in recent times who import most of their automotive products from China and Taiwan.
The lifespan of a battery of an electric two-wheeler is approximately 400 charges which can last anything between two and a half, to three years.
"Lead prices have been going up consistently with the present cost of a battery pegged at $12. By entering into a JV with a company with specialised domain knowledge, we can bring battery costs down and also look at selling them to other electric two-wheeler players in the market," Raval said.
For Hero Electric, the brand of e-bikes manufactured by Hero Cycles in collaboration with Ultra Motor Company (UMC), a UK-based electric vehicle (EV) solutions provider, the vehicles are made with a component localisation of 25 per cent but plans are afloat to increase localisation by possibly sourcing plastics within the country instead of importing it from China.
Its batteries are sourced from China and Taiwan at present but the company says it is open to setting up its own battery plant in the future depending on the collaborator it gets.
By bringing down manufacturing costs, the are also looking at the exports route, which is dominated by China and Taiwan currently. Electrotherm has received interest from in the US and UK but is looking at the US market as an export market most likely from the next financial year.
Ace Motors' two-wheelers are assembled with technical assistance from Changtong E Bike company of China. Having established a liaison office in China, the company has started taking in export orders from Amsterdam, Germany and other European nations.
Hero Electric also plans to export its products in a year or so.