Looking for partners in India for the development of electronic components: CEO of Switch India

Looking for partners in India for the development of electronic components: CEO of Switch India

How was the first year for Switch Mobility in the electric vehicle industry?

We celebrated our first year with great satisfaction. We have progressed on multiple fronts globally as well as in India. Last April, when Switch was formed, we had an order for 60 electric buses. But by the time we got out of fiscal 22, we had orders for 600 buses, a 10-fold growth.

So, this is good news in a year’s time and our strategy is working. We are also establishing ourselves as a global brand. We now have factories in Leeds (UK) and Ennore (India) and have laid the foundation for one in Spain. Hence, these three factories serve the markets of Europe, UK, India, Africa and Southeast Asia. That’s the plan.

How strong is the order book for electric buses?

We recently got our first type of Switch branded role, for the new 12m bus that we will be launching in a couple of months. The first delivery under the order of 300 buses will be for BMTC, Bengaluru, followed by our iconic double-decker bus in Mumbai. So there will be another 200 buses.

It is also likely that we will receive an order for 550 buses from a race from Cesl. And last week BEST opened its tender for 1,400 buses. We are also eligible and will likely receive an order. The order pipeline is very good and electric bus products are preparing.

We now have a very good team: around 450 people working in India, while the global strength is 750. The R&D team in India is substantially bigger with over 200 people. Likewise, we have a strong team in the UK as well.

How much are you investing in electric vehicle manufacturing in India?

To begin with, we created a line on the Ennore campus. It will have a capacity to produce around 2,000 electric buses per year and can be increased up to 4,000 depending on the size of the order. We are also creating a line for EV products in the LCV segment.

However, we will invest in a new facility in this part of the country and finalize the position over the next two months. We expect this to be ready by 2025. Of the £ 300 million planned investment, a significant portion will go to India for product creation and manufacturing facilities as volumes are substantially higher.

We are also in the final stage of acquiring an order for 70-100 electric buses for personnel transport services in the private segment. We will not be dependent on STUs as we intend to target the entire bus segment for electrification. Hence, we intend to create more products, including low-floor buses.

For LCV electrification, we have already announced that Dost and Bada Dost will have electric variants later this year. Electric LCV is expected to be launched by the end of this tax. We are also planning to have bottom-up platforms: one for India and one for Europe for electric vehicles.

What will Switch’s USPs or differentiators be in the e-bus space?

First, we will work on the best total cost of operations for all our products, on the efficiency of the bus and its offerings. In addition, our Ohm arm will focus on electric mobility as a service – customers can pay us per km. We also want to do this for the private player segment.

Similarly, in light commercial vehicles, we are talking to many ecommerce operators, last and mid mile delivery participants and logistics companies and are working closely with them to make sure their total cost of operations is better than current diesel models in all our applications. We will work to efficiently integrate the electrical system to ensure the best total cost of ownership as well as the lowest maintenance cost over a longer period.

How are you building your electric vehicle supply chain?

We cannot achieve total cost of ownership without quality products and quality services. There are two areas of focus: EV and non-EV parts. For non-EV parts like suspension, steering systems, etc, the platform will come from Ashok Leyland. For electric vehicle parts, we have a relationship with Dana who is also an investor in our company. Dana will provide us with the latest global technology on electric-powered trains.

For batteries, we have a connection with a cell supplier in China and are assembling the battery pack at our premises. Over the past three years we have seen good battery performance, in terms of efficiency, safety and durability. For the other parts, let’s look more Aatmanirbharta – we are looking for partners in India. We are also working with our existing partners to develop suitable parts for our products.

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