Yatin Gupte is the CMD of WardWizard Innovations & Mobility, the first-ever EV company listed in BSE to provide greener alternatives to current ways of life. An honorary doctorate in social service and MBA holder in Insurance & Risk Management, Gupte has been consciously working to make the nation’ future ready’ in mobility. Under his leadership, the company has not only gained popularity for its innovative and distinguished products in India, but it has also spread its wings in global markets.
Can you elaborate on your strategic partnership with Chinese company A&S Power and the EV ancillary cluster development?
Our plan is to localise manufacturing in India, and we are making progress. It takes approximately three to four years to ramp up manufacturing fully. However, our internal battery demand is already approaching 500 MWh. As a result, it was strategically chosen to form OEM partnerships to help us meet our urgent needs while maintaining quality and assuring a solid supply chain. Since they were flexible enough to suit our design criteria, we formed a strategic alliance with A&S to be our OEM partner.
The EV auxiliary cluster is our endeavour to create local battery production in Vadodara, Gujarat. We have already localised the battery pack assembly using our cells manufactured on the A&S production line. Within the EV Ancillary Cluster’s Phase 1 development, our technical team is working on the design phase of a 1GWh battery production facility, reaffirming our commitment to pioneering electric vehicle technology. The team is collaborating with several partners to create equipment and infrastructure. A&S Power is one of the partners we are collaborating with, and the details are still being finalised. Furthermore, we are set to start manufacturing motors, controllers, and chargers in January 2024.
What kind of investment would go into setting up the EV ancillary cluster and R&D centre, and when will they be operational?
Wardwizard reported a year ago that it will invest up to INR 800 crore in developing Li-ion battery advance cells and accompanying infrastructure. As part of the electric vehicle cluster in Vadodara, a 1GWh cell production plant, an R&D centre, and assembly facilities would be created.
OEM assembly of both the cell and the battery pack has begun. Work on the cluster setup has already begun, and the design for our GWh battery production line at our cluster is nearing completion. We anticipate the entire plant will be operational by the third quarter of 2025.
What will be the installed capacity at the cluster? Would there be more EV ancillary companies?
We’ve already begun batch-wise manufacturing of battery packs in the initial development phase, with plans to build up to a 1GWh battery. Simultaneously, we’re working hard to build a 1GWh Lithium-Ion Cell production line. Looking ahead, our ambitious strategy includes increasing this capacity within our cluster to an astounding 5GWh, demonstrating our commitment to growing the electric vehicle industry.
How does this partnership fit into the company’s product strategy? Would we see more of such partnerships in the future?
This collaboration with A&S Power complements our vision. It demonstrates our dedication to advancing sustainable mobility solutions. Collaborations like this one allow us to tap into the experience of industry leaders to improve our product options and quality. We are already in contact with other partners, and as we pursue innovation and quality, we will probably explore additional such collaborations in the future, solidifying our position as a key player in the electric car sector.
Would this EV ancillary cluster be open to other players in the market? If yes, would it be open to contract manufacturing for other OEMs, and is the company in talks with other players in the segment?
Yes, the cluster is open to other players in the market. We believe in fostering an environment of collaboration and innovation. While specific talks with other players are confidential, the company is actively exploring opportunities for strategic partnerships that can benefit the electric vehicle industry and advance sustainable mobility solutions.
Regarding technology transfer, would Li-ion cell technology be developed from scratch here in India? What will be the cost implications of the same on the vehicle cost? Also, please shed some light on the sourcing of raw materials.
As part of our commitment to technological growth, we are actively investigating developing Li-ion cell technology in India from the ground up. This strategy is consistent with our long-term goal of self-sufficiency and innovation. We anticipate a significant reduction in battery costs, estimated at roughly 30%, over time by pursuing this path of indigenous manufacture and raw material procurement. Our plan includes investigating domestic raw material sources to reduce reliance and contribute to expanding the Indian electric car sector.