Exide-Leclanche joint venture Nexcharge eyes breakeven in FY23 as EV demand rises, Auto News, ET Auto

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The company has invested Rs 250 crore in India so far and set up a 1.5 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery pack assembly plant.
The company has invested Rs 250 crore in India so far and set up a 1.5 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery pack assembly plant.

Nexcharge, a joint venture between India’s largest battery maker Exide and Switzerland’s Leclanche, has set itself an ambitious target of breakeven by next year within five years of setting up shop in India, as demand for electric vehicles rises.

Established in 2018, Nexcharge makes lithium-ion battery packs primarily for the transportation industry.

The company has invested Rs 250 crore in India so far and set up a 1.5 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery pack assembly plant. An electric scooter typically has a 1-2 Kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. One GWh equals a million kWh.

Nexcharge has a customer base of about 35 companies, mostly in the transportation space. It counts several two- and three-wheeler makers and half a dozen bus makers amongst its customers. However, it imports the cells used in the packs, which account for up to 70% of the value of the final product.

Speaking to ET via video conferencing, Stefan Louis, the CEO of Nexcharge said that breakeven in FY23 was an ambitious target, but the company was working hard to achieve it.

“Rs 400 crores (of revenue) is what I would like to get to because that’s our breakeven point. I have not said that we will achieve it, but I will do my best with the team to get there,” Louis told ET. The company is yet to finalise its budget for FY23, he added.

There is a shortage of lithium-ion cells globally as the demand for electric vehicles has skyrocketed. Louis estimates the demand-supply mismatch to ease out in a year from now. However, a bigger challenge for the company was the fluctuating prices of raw materials, which could impact its margins, he said.

The company was working closely with Exide to draw up plans for a lithium-ion cell plant in India under the government’s production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme for advanced chemistry cells. Exide will be setting up a new subsidiary to hold the cell manufacturing operations but is working in close consultation with Nexcharge.

Amara Raja, another leading automotive battery maker in India, is also working on availing the PLI scheme.

The government has mandated companies to set up a plant of at least 5 GWh of cell manufacturing capacity and invest a minimum of Rs 225 crore per GWh to avail the PLI scheme. However, Louis said that the investment would be realistically closer to Rs 350 crore per GWh, excluding land.

Nexcharge estimates the Indian lithium-ion cell requirement for transportation to be 80 GWh by 2030, of which it is eyeing a 20-30% market share.

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