Exide Industries - the country's (India's) largest lead acid battery maker - is exploring alternative technology for batteries amid a government push for electric vehicles.
Although Exide is investing in upgrading existing plants producing lead acid batteries, the company is simultaneously in discussion with technology partners and OEMs to manufacture and distribute lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles.
"We are in a very disruptive stage as far as the battery industry is concerned. There is so much talk about electric vehicles. While we do not see lead acid technology vanishing in the next 10 years, its share could reduce in the automotive sector," said G. Chatterjee, managing director and CEO of Exide Industries, on the sidelines of the company's annual general meeting.
Chatterjee added that the new business opportunities would emerge with the government push for e-rickshaws and battery operated buses. "Electric vehicles require lithium ion batteries as of now. We are talking to certain collaborators and people who have the technology."
However, any major investment decision would depend only if there was greater scale. Chatterjee said that more than Rs 700 crore needed to be invested in building capacity for lithium ion batteries and demand has to pick up adequately to justify the investment.
"We are flexible. If electric vehicles pick up, our investment will be in a different direction, we have to look at different collaborations," said Chatterjee.
Exide, at present, operates nine plants in the country and is investing in capacity expansion. "We are in expansion mode and our current factories are almost fully utilised. We have applied for 25 acres of land from the Calcutta Port Trust. We have asked for another 25 acres from the Haldia Development Authority."