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NEW DELHI : Commercial vehicle (CV) maker Ashok Leyland’s electric mobility arm, Switch Mobility, expects an orderbook pipeline of 1,000 electric buses by the end of this financial year, feeding the significant demand boom for electric buses for public transit that India is witnessing, a senior company official said.

The company is also aiming to launch its electrified range of light commercial vehicles within this fiscal year too.

Ashok Leyland has invested close to $180 million on its electric vehicle assets so far, and is in the process of raising funds to the effect of $200 million for new product development and capacity expansion for Switch Mobility in India and the UK, as well as its new facility in Spain, Mahesh Babu, chief executive officer, Switch Mobility said in an interview.

About a year ago, Ashok Leyland hived off its electric mobility business into a separate company, now known as Switch Mobility, which also subsumed the UK-based bus manufacturer Optare that Leyland owned.

Switch Mobility already has an order book of 600 electric buses from state transport undertakings (STUs) in Bangalore and Mumbai, and a corporate for staff bus transport that it will offer under the e-MaaS (electric mobility- as-a-service), where the capex spend for setting up the charging infrastructure and depots for the buses will be borne by Switch Mobility. The net-zero emissions mobility startup has launched its next generation modular electric bus platform, Switch EiV 12 in India in two variants, for a variety of applications like inter and intra-city transport, and school and luxury applications.

Switch hopes to fulfil these orders by June next year, even as supply chains play spoilsport for EV manufacturers globally.

300 of these buses are already plying on the roads in UK at present. The company, headquartered in the UK, recently announced an investment of $100 million to set up a factory and research and development unit in Spain. The EiV 12 buses by Switch Mobility will be manufactured in Ashok Leyland’s factory in Ennore, Chennai.

“We have just scaled up our capacity in India to 2,500 units annually and so we are well protected for our orderbook. We can even double this capacity in as little as six months, with not much incremental investment," Mahesh Babu, chief executive officer, Switch Mobility India said in an interview.

“We are close to key strategic as well as private equity funds for investments but irrespective of us getting funds from outside, the Hinduja group is committed to investing in electric mobility," Babu said.

Even as the government’s energy transition agency CESL is looking to aggregate demand for 50,000 electric buses, there is apprehension around the preparedness of the state transport units in maintaining and operating electric buses, as well as the infrastructure required to support this transition.

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