Ashok Leyland scouts for investments in EV unit

Waiting for right partners, says CFO

Commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland Ltd. (ALL) is scouting for investments in its electric vehicle business, according to a top official.

It recently transferred its electric vehicle business to subsidiary Switch Mobility to better tap growth opportunities, said CFO Gopal Mahadevan.

“We need investment for product development and technology for e-LCVs and e-buses. Switch will have the electric version of the Dost and Bada Dost,” he said. “The EV initiative is going to be extremely crucial for us. We have seen quite a bit of interest from investors, but we are waiting for the right financial and strategic partners.”

ALL is also planning to roll out out two trucks in the compressed natural gas (CNG) version in Q4 this fiscal.

“We are planning to launch two ICVs (intermediate commercial vehicle) trucks in the CNG segment in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal. After that we will keep launching a new product every quarter and will be offering the CNG version in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) at a later stage,” said Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO.

“The government is encouraging CNG and ALL is ready to take it forward to ensure that in the coming years a large part of the fleet is capable of running on CNG. By introducing CNG products in ICVs and LCVs we will also be able to gain considerable market share further,” he said.

Asked about the challenges faced by the company, Mr. Sondhi said though the demand was expected to rise further on the back of infrastructure thrust by the government, there were challenges in the form of hardening commodities prices, shortage of semiconductors and lack of containers for the exports.

However, to offset these, there are positives such as the scrappage policy and PLI scheme which will augur well for the CV industry, he said.

On the international front, Mr. Sondhi said ALL would follow three-pronged strategy by foraying deeper into SAARC and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, expanding into African markets by appointing new partners and pursuing CIS and South East Asian countries for further growth.

Mr. Gopal Mahadevan said that they had reduced the net debt sequentially by over ₹1,000 crore. Currently, it stood at ₹3,112 crore.

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