China’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer BYD, which has won Indian tenders with astonishingly low bids, will focus on providing ebuses for public transport and keep off cars although Indian auto companies had approached it for cooperation in passenger cars, a top company official said.
The global strategy of the Chinese giant, which has partnered with Hyderabad-based Goldstone, is to focus on public transportation, senior company executives said. Its Indian rivals, who lost out in the tender for e-buses, were worried about BYD’s possible entry in the passenger car segment, and allege that the Chinese firm’s presence goes against the ‘Make in India’ mission of the government.
“We do not plan to come into cars as of now. It’s not the right time. It is BYD’s strategy to promote public transportation globally,” Zhang Jie, executive director of BYD India told ET.
BYD has formed a strategic partnership with Hyderabad-based Goldstone for providing technology support to the latter. Goldstone-BYD recently turned heads after bagging contracts for electric buses under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme that offers up to 60% subsidy on ebus procurement.
“Our first priority is that these buses be deployed successfully,” Xie added. Goldstone-BYD buses have been plying in India since September 2017 and have covered route distance of 200,000 kilometres since.
“As a matter of strategy, we are only focussed on electric buses in India as of now. We are not in a hurry to get big numbers,” said Naga Satyam, President-Strategy, Goldstone Infratech.
BYD, which is the only Chinese company backed by Warren Buffet, is operating electric vehicles in over 50 countries. Jie said that India’s electric market will be grow largely on the back of public transportation, and setting up of charging infrastructure for cars poses a major challenge in the four-wheeler segment.
Recently, however, the power ministry clarified that the setting up of charging stations would not require one to obtain a separate license under the Electricity Act, 2003, a move which is being seen as a big positive among industry watchers, and could possibly bring more investment in the electric vehicle charging space.
Jie added that a few Indian auto manufacturers have approached the Chinese player for co-operation in the cars sector, but BYD is not focussed on that.
Indian industry executives are worried about a company the size of BYD being allowed to participate in the recent tenders, arguing that it goes against the government’s ‘Make in India’ mission and will create jobs in China instead of in India, ET reported on March 23rd.
“Whatever the companies are saying, it only creates tension in the market. We want to create Goldstone-BYD a brand for electric mobility in India,” Satyam added. Indian big-wigs Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra are already supplying electric cars for use in Central government offices.
Currently, electric vehicles comprise around 1% of India’s total fleet, and the government has set itself a target of moving 30% of the country’s fleet to electric by 2030.