You Cannot Be Half-Hearted In Commitment: Jaideep Wadhwa

Abhijeet Singh
27 Sep 2023
12:29 PM
2 Min Read

Ranking first as the MCU supplier for high-speed electric scooters in India, with 50% localisation, Sterling Gtake E-Mobility already has 18 E2W manufacturers on board, with 40 more in the pipeline.

sterling gtake e mobility plant mobility outlook

The COVID-19 outbreak was just around the corner when Jaideep Wadhwa, Managing Director of Sterling Gtake E-Mobility, was convincing Jiangsu Gtake Electric China to partner with Sterling E-Mobility to manufacture MCUs (Motor Control Units) for E2Ws in India. Yes, it took a lot of convincing, and after mutually agreeing to manufacturing requirements, Jiangsu Gtake, shook hands with Sterling to manufacture E2W MCUs.

It may look like Sterling just invested INR 28 crore in a business expansion on the 11-acre land based on guessing the demand for MCUs from the Indian high-speed electric scooter market, but Wadhwa told Mobility Outlook that this decision is based on a lot of research.

Five years ago, the company started working on a concept called ACES – Autonomous Connected Electric Shared as the future of mobility. They looked at the bestselling scooter in the country, analysed and benchmarked its performance metrics. This gives the data to calculate customers' requirements from the most-selling segment. The company hired a slew of consultants and started looking for partners.

Jiangsu Gtake was not the best of matches, and Chinese companies are more transactional in nature than partnering. Like others, they told Sterling to source specific parts from China, change the label and resell. Wadhwa did not agree to this and insisted on manufacturing MCUs in India itself. So, Gtake was able to look at the 40-year-old legacy Sterling Tools and the many satisfied customers it has acquired over the years to agree to the partnership. “We understand the automotive market very well”, says Wadhwa.

jaideep wadhwa sterling gtake emobility mobility outlook

Today, Sterling Gtake E-Mobility can manufacture the MCUs completely at the Faridabad facility. Starting from the full 100% imported units in November 2021, today, the MCU is 50% localised (with chips being the only imported component). But the rest of the unit, casing, assembly, compliance testing, research, etc, are all done at Faridabad and Bangalore facilities. The company has an installed capacity of 300,000 MCU units per annum, which is currently being expanded to 500,000 MCU units per annum.

Being a very significant component for E2Ws, the standard price per MCU is about INR 8,000 to INR 9,000, depending on individual OEM demands. It almost sounds cheap considering this MCU has to manage motor torque and speed, change motor rotation direction, regenerative braking, prevent electrical faults and handle other devices over CAN.

There is much customisation, too, that can be piled up on the MCU as OEMs want to differentiate their own vehicles. Sterling Gtake is able to offer all these enhancements done in-house. In fact, the engineers had to learn all these software techniques online as COVID-19-induced lockdowns had restricted travel completely.

Wadhwa mentioned they had Chinese counterparts stationed in Faridabad to work with Indian engineers, but they were sent back just in time before the lockdowns struck. The rest of the training was completely through online channels, and happily, the Indian teams learned without a hitch.

sterling gtake MCU mobility outlook

All major Indian E2W manufacturers are already MCU customers for Sterling Gtake. The company is already manufacturing for 18 brands, with 40 more in the pipeline. The facility expansion has been fast-tracked to cater to all this demand. The company will be able to produce 600,000 MCUs per annum by the end of FY24. The brand will further be exploring more products to build once the plant has been upgraded fully, BMS (Battery Management Systems) and hydrogen mobility components seem like ideal business cases.

“Exports were not part of the initial agenda, but we are taking interest in this area now,” says Wadhwa. Sterling Gtake already has its hands full with many orders in the pipeline. But since scaling up in MCUs is easier for should be electric four-wheelers, LCVs and even buses, exports will be considered for South Asian markets.

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