KSL Cleantech and Chinese EV major Huaihai Holding Group joined hands to set up joint venture firm to develop an electric vehicle portfolio for Indian market
The government’s much-talked-about FAME II scheme announced earlier this year more or less cleared the air about its intent to promote adoption of electric vehicles across the country. But the scheme was seen as one that favours commercial vehicles over personal mobility. However, the recent GST cut on electric vehicles from 12 percent to five percent coupled with GST reduction in EV chargers/charging stations from 18 percent to five percent would also encourage the personal mobility space to embrace electric vehicles. With an aim to leverage each other’s strengths, KSL Cleantech Ltd. joined hands with Chinese EV major Huaihai Holding Group to set up a joint venture firm to develop an electric vehicle portfolio for the Indian market. Auto Tech Review spoke to Dhiraj Purusottam Bhagchandka, Managing Director, KSL Cleantech Ltd. (Above) and Kevin Lee, Director of Overseas Sales Center, Huaihai (Below) Holding Group, to understand how they plan to serve the Indian EV market.
Huaihai carries a decade and a half experience in manufacturing electric vehicles in the Chinese market - it has drawn up aggressive plans to work together with KSL Cleantech to develop products cut out for Indian conditions. Huaihai KSL Auto Pvt Ltd, the new joint venture entity has announced its decision to set up an integrated manufacturing plant as well as a new R&D facility along with a strong service support for spares for electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers. The company has lined up plans to conduct product design, carry out development, manufacturing as well as supplying critical EV components in India with an investment of Rs 200 crores over the next three years, while adhering to the FAME II scheme.
Although there has been increasing focus on infrastructure development in India over the last few years, bad road conditions and traffic congestion continue to be a cause for worry for the automotive stakeholders across the country. On the other hand, India is also grappling with overloading problems across all segments right from two-wheelers to heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Thus, Huaihai KSL is focussing on finding the right balance between cost and material for its products to offer a better total cost of ownership. Riding on the cost sensitivity analysis, the company is initially looking to manufacture chassis for three-wheelers since they are easier to produce along with controlled quality. Lee said as far as producing loaders as per market-specific conditions are concerned, there is a need for more facilities as well as adequate skilful workers that require time and persistent efforts.
Huaihai KSL will manufacture critical components like motors and controllers locally for its range of EVs – more importantly, it will be developing all its products in-house rather than taking the import route. The joint venture will leverage Huaihai’s patented software starting from scratch till the final testing and intends to work closely with its China-based electronic control department to find optimised parts for Indian EVs. Inside the controller, metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) pipes control the way the motor operates in an EV. Thus, Huaihai KSL will alter its 9 tube controller design for its scooter that it had earlier developed as per the Chinese road conditions and low temperature variations. The 9 tube controller will be replaced by a 12 tube controller and will be designed to deal with abusive operations during on-road applications in India. Huaihai KSL will import scooter’s plastic covers from China in the initial phase. However, the company will source the same locally along with damping material, absorbers as well as tyres as the sales volume picks up in a phase-wise manner. Developing a new product takes anywhere up to year and a half, which is well supported by customer data and feedback received from Huaihai’s strong 15,000 dealer network and a strong 500-member R&D team in China.
Huaihai KSL had recently showcased a two-wheeler with 48V 500W hub motor coupled with 48V 12 tubes platoon insert wireless controller and 48V 30 Ah lithium battery. The scooter can be charged in three hours to offer a travel range of up to 60 km for a quick uptime. The company is already engaged in talks with a few food delivery companies as well as various e-commerce companies to offer customised, sustainable solutions for their respective fleets. Huaihai KSL also showcased a two-wheeler aimed more at personal mobility, engineered with 60V 250W motor and 60V 20 Ah lead acid battery that can be charged in 6-8 hours for up to 70 km travel range. With the fast-changing battery technology along with battery management systems, development costs of batteries are coming down indicating that lithium-ion batteries will pan out to be a viable option in the foreseeable future, noted Bhagchandka.
KSL Cleantech currently has a production capacity of 10,000 units in Kolkata and aims to scale it up over the next three years. Huaihai KSL electric vehicles can be easily charged at home. Bhagchandka feels that the EV segment will get a big boost in India if the government continues its thrust on developing charging infrastructure. Huaihai KSL has chalked up plans to roll out a range of 10 electric vehicles, including two-wheeler and three-wheeler commercial vehicles with cost-effective designs and is also considering the viability of developing a four-wheeler electric vehicle for the Indian market.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja