Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland is in advanced stage of discussions with investors for its electric vehicle business and the delay was largely to ensure that the company has the ‘right partner’ to support its growth plans.
The city-headquartered company of the Hinduja Group is planning to raise around USD 200-250 million to support its electric vehicles (EV) arm — Switch Mobility.
Explaining the reasons for the delay in finding the right partner, Ashok Leyland executive chairman Dheeraj Hinduja said there has been a slowdown globally on EVs as a lot of people raised money and were not able to deliver.
”We (Switch Mobility) are in a very different position because we have a number of products operating in India, the United Kingdom. The main reason why we have been delayed in fundraise is because we really want to make sure that we get the right partner who supports the business plan and we get the correct valuation as well,” he told PTI in an brief interaction.
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To a query about a possible time frame to rope in the ‘investor’, he said the company has been in discussion with ‘many potential’ investors and some of the discussions were in ‘advanced stage’.
”At the same time, the discussions can tend to take longer or it might conclude sooner. I would not like to put a timeline against this,” he said.
Asked whether it was affecting the growth plan for Switch Mobility, Hinduja replied in the negative saying, ”From Switch (Mobility) perspective, it is not affecting the company because the developments of the products are carrying on. It has good support from Ashok Leyland and so we do not have to rush into it (to identify the right investor).”
To another query, Hinduja said the company was planning to launch electric vehicles under Switch Mobility business in the Middle East after operating in the European region.
”We are launching in the Middle East, that is from the Switch (Mobility) perspective. They will be looking at certain opportunities for electric buses in the Middle East,” he said.
On whether the launch of electric buses in the Middle East would happen this year, he said it may happen in 2023. ”In the electric vehicle (business), it is always a gradual start and it (launch) is not in huge volumes. Introduction and testing of the products become very important and critical,” he said.
Expanding the product portfolio, Hinduja said the company would also unveil the electric version of its highly popular ‘Dost’ and ‘Bada Dost’ range of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in 2023.
”We are looking at the launch of electric Dost and Bada Dost in the middle of 2023 for the domestic market,” he said.
Switch Mobility has been successful as an electric vehicle manufacturer in India and the United Kingdom. Its product range includes the double-decker-bus. For the European market, the company has planned to launch a new 12-metre bus, E1, to be introduced in 2023.