Ashok Leyland, one of India’s top two commercial vehicle makers, said it has set up an electric vehicle unit at its Ennore plant, giving the company the capacity to “deal with” about 5,000-10,000 electric vehicles per year.

The move comes eight months after it signed an agreement with Israel-based Phinergy to explore the possibility of using aluminium air batteries in its future products.

Egged on by the government, which is worried about the rising oil import bill, automakers in India have been setting up new research and development units to get their electric vehicle projects going.

Among the most aggressive has been Mahindra & Mahindra, one of Ashok Leyland’s biggest competitors in the commercial vehicle space.

Chennai-based Ashok Leyland said its new unit will help it address the volume market when EVs take off “in a few years”.

It said it is India’s first integrated facility for design, prototyping, testing, process prototyping and solutions design. The facilities support engineering, prototyping and testing for motors, battery aacks and a power electronics lab.

“At present, we have a capacity to take care of about 5000-10000 vehicles per annum, with different battery and charging options,” said┬áKarthick Athmanathm, who heads the EV business at Ashok Leyland.

“We have leveraged start-ups in lndia as well as from abroad, to bring in innovative yet cost-effective solutions that are offered by us an a turnkey basis. The idea is to have a mature and dynamic portfolio of products, services and solutions when the volume market takes off in a few years,” he added.

in-house start-up facility in order to stay flexible and fast. Sharing his views, Mr. Vinod Dasari, Managing Director – Ashok Leyland, said his is the only OEM that offers “different energy management strategies” in a “modular architechture”.

“Our plan is to start working on new product platforms in EVs such as eLCV, Low Floor City Buses, Last Mile Connectivity and Power Solutions products.

“The Government’s eMobility vision is an opportunity for the country to save forex and to reduce oil dependence.”

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