Suzuki’s battery factory in India to begin production in late 2020

Automotive Electronics Power Private Limited (AEPPL), the joint venture Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation will jointly invest Rs.3,715 crore in the second phase of their battery venture in Gujarat’s Hansalpur, reports Mint. Spread over 2021-25, the investment is part of the Rs.5,000 crore corpus that Suzuki announced in October 2019 to build India’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant for hybrids and EVs.

Phase 1 of the battery manufacturing plant, built at Rs.1,214 crore, is set to start operations by the end of 2020. With a production capacity of more than 1GWh, the plant with equity stake split between Suzuki with 50%, Toshiba 40% and Denso 10%, is targeting to locally manufacture 30 million lithium-ion cells per year by 2025.

Being India’s first Lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant will combine Suzuki’s expertise, Toshiba’s cell technology and Denso’s module technology. The JV to develop and manufacture lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications was announced in April 2017 and the foundation was laid down in September 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

While phase 1 will get one assembly line, AEPPL will make four more assembly lines for the battery plant under phase 2. It is believed that the second standard operating procedure (SOP) is tentatively planned for 2021-22 and the joint venture is planning SOPs for additional lines during the four-year period. While the project is estimated to provide employment to about 1,000 people by 2025, the company will proceed with the investments for the second phase only if favourable government policies on EVs are made. Maruti Suzuki has already delayed the launch of Wagon R-based Electric to 2021 for the same reason citing poor support infrastructure.

With Suzuki leading the charge in the battery manufacturing, Mahindra and Tata Motors also have partnered with other companies to start their own battery plants and technology. Mahindra & Mahindra has teamed up with Korea’s LG Chem to develop high energy density lithium-ion cells and is setting up a plant at Chakan near Pune. Tata Motors will work with Tata Chemicals Ltd, Tata AutoComp Systems Pvt. Ltd, Tata Power Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd to develop its own lithium-ion technology.

Expect to see the locally-manufactured Li-Ion batteries power a host of hybrid cars Maruti will launch in the coming years before it serves on electric vehicles.