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NEW DELHI : India's largest bus manufacturer Ashok Leyland's net-zero emissions electric mobility company Switch Mobility is gearing up to build a global business which can be a "viable competitor" to Chinese EV manufacturer BYD, Andy Palmer, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer, Switch Mobility, told Mint.

The electric mobility arm of Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland currently operates in the United Kingdom (where it was originally based as Optare), India and Spain, with plans to venture into the South American market with its range of electric buses and light commercial vehicles by 2025. BYD's electric bus arm operates in India in a joint venture with Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, as Olectra Greentech.

Switch is now building a cadence of product launches, followed by a roll-out of products in mature markets leading up to 2025. The next five years, till 2030, will be a "maturation" phase for Switch. The OEM anticipates its electric commercial van is less than 12 months away from launch for developing markets like India.

"In the last three months, we've launched three products - a double decker electric bus, 12-metre single-decker bus and a low floor 9-metre bus in India and Europe. This cadence of launches you see in front of you now will continue till 2025", Palmer told Mint.

"We are in phase one of our business right now - to build. This phase is about being present in two of the largest markets where we have a chance to win - in India, based on the legacy of Ashok Leyland, and in the UK, based upon the legacy of Optare. We want to be in Europe also because it ultimately is the biggest EV market in the world. We're learning how to run a global business rather than a regional business. We're also trying to create an ethos not only around being a clean energy company, but we also want to be a viable competitor to the only other global competitors out there, which is BYD", he added.

According to Palmer, Switch Mobility will also look towards full localization of its battery packs and battery management system at its manufacturing facilities in Europe and in India, achieving better vertical integration and the ability to harvest data that can feed into improving vehicle product efficiency.

Ashok Leyland has been in the process of finding an investor for Switch Mobility and its electric-mobility-as-a-service (e-MaaS) subsidiary Ohm Mobility for the last few quarters, to fund its expansion plans and bring in expertise with entering and sourcing from some key, new markets.

"We're close to closing the fundraise round in both Switch and Ohm. We may be a little conservative, in some ways - we all went through this adulation of the SPAC market and big valuations, and we chose not to go on that route. So we we've been as picky about our investor as our investor has been toward us. We are looking for partners that come with a long-term view, understand the way in which we want to build the business and aren't looking to turn a profit the very next quarter. But we are pretty much there, and close to concluding our conversations shortly", Palmer said.

So far, Leyland's Switch Mobility has an order book of 6000 electric buses globally, including 600 in India, predominantly from the state transportation units of Mumbai and Bengaluru. However, it expects an orderbook pipeline of 1,000 electric buses in India by the end of this financial year, feeding the significant demand boom for electric buses for public transit that India is witnessing, according to Mahesh Babu, CEO, Switch Mobility India. The company has already delivered 200 electric buses in the UK and India, respectively. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alisha Sachdev

Alisha Sachdev is an assistant editor with Mint based in Delhi. She reports on the auto and mobility sector, with a special focus on emerging clean mobility technologies. She also focusses on developing multimedia properties for Mint and currently hosts the 'In A Minute' series and the Mint Primer podcast. Previously, she has worked with CNBC-TV18 and NDTV.
Catch all the Corporate news and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
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