India lead-acid manufacturer Exide Industries is teaming up with Swiss battery storage firm Leclanché in a new lithium joint venture targeting the Indian market.
The partnership will focus on building lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), stationary energy storage systems and “speciality storage markets”.
Exide Industries will be the majority partner in the venture, which will be based in Gujurat in the Western India region. Leclanché said it would be the “strategic minority shareholder”— but details of the deal signed on 27 June were not disclosed.
The new joint venture expects to have a module and battery pack assembly line operational by the second quarter of 2019 and a lithium-ion cell production plant in operation by “mid-2020”. The partners said cells would be sourced from Leclanché’s plant in Willstätt, Germany, in the intervening period.
The agreement comes almost one year after Exide Industries bosses said they were “negotiating with a lot of companies” to branch out into lithium.
Leclanché said the joint venture would have access to its knowhow and intellectual property for lithium-ion cells, modules and battery management systems and Exide Industries will tap into its “extensive sales network and brand”.
In terms of e-transport, the joint venture’s “target segment will be fleet vehicles including e-buses, e-wheelers and e-rickshaws”.
Exide Industries CEO Gautam Chatterjee (pictured bottom right) said the deal “compliments our leading position in the lead-acid storage battery market in India and will allow us to take the lead in the lithium-ion battery industry, which is expected to grow significantly in the next few years”.
Meanwhile, Exide Industries made clear its intention to retain a grip on India’s lead-acid market with the separate acquisition of Gujurat’s Tudor India— the Indian arm of US battery major Exide Technologies. In a stock market notification Exide Industries reported to have entered an “asset purchase agreement” with Tudor towards acquiring the company’s 64,647 square metre facility at Prantij in July 2018 for an undisclosed sum.
A spokesperson for Exide Technologies told BBB the US firm had been "in the process of winding down its manufacturing operations in India for some time". "The sale of assets in India is a result of the company’s decision to cease direct production in India."
Earlier this month India launched its first national lithium-ion cells production plant in a bid to reduce imports from regional battery makers and develop a domestic cell-manufacturing hub.