Taiwan firm signs deal with Belrise to invest $2.5 bn in Maharashtra
Gogoro, a Taiwanese firm that is in the business of sustainable mobility technology and battery-swapping infrastructure, on Tuesday announced a 50-50 joint venture with Belrise Industries (earlier known as Badve Engineering) to invest $2.5 billion over eight years to build battery-swapping and energy infrastructure in Maharashtra.
A non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in Davos on Tuesday with the state government.
In an interview from Davos, Gogoro founder Horace Luke said: “We will put up smart battery stations to begin with in top 10 densely populated cities in Maharashtra, including Pune and Mumbai. India is the holy grail where we need to put our solutions.”
Luke said the company had a proven technology with over 1.2 billion batteries and it was doing around half a billion battery swaps in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, among others.
The partner was chosen because of its expertise, he said. It accounted for 35 per cent of body chassis and suspension parts for two-wheelers in the country.
Luke, however, said the investment would not only come from the two (only initially) but they expected to rope in climate and infrastructure funds and even vehicle makers.
The joint venture comes at a time when the government is finalising the draft swapping policy, which is aimed at greater interoperability. It also seeks to reduce the upfront cost of buying an electric vehicle by obviating the need to pay the entire battery cost (the battery accounts for 40-50 per cent of the cost of the vehicle) and instead going in for swapping.
For Gogoro, a Nasdaq-listed company initially funded by over 24 investors including Temasek, Sumitomo Corporation, and Panasoni, this is its fourth alliance publicly announced in less than two years.
In 2021, it had announced setting up a joint venture with India’s largest two-wheeler company, Hero MotoCorp, to build battery-swapping stations in the country and then in other parts of the world.
In 2022, it said it was looking to set up a battery plant in India in collaboration with iPhone vendor Foxconn.
And it was looking to vehicle makers apart from Hero MotoCorp to join in to use the swapping infrastructure.
In November 2022 Gogoro was back with a partnership with Zypp Electric to support its electric scooters with pilot battery-swapping stations in the National Capital Region.
This year it announced a contract manufacturing agreement with Tier 1 automotive component player Metalman Auto -to produce a range of electric scooters slated to hit the road in mid-2023 and will be manufactured in its partner’s Waluj plant.
Elaborating on the strategy behind its tie-ups, Lucas said: “To develop the market it is always a chicken-and-egg situation — does infra come first or the vehicle? The MoU is a flag up where we have a composite solution and all players are aligned to build the energy storage system.”
He pointed out there were various phases. The firm is piloting with Zypp in a few stations to get enough data on how swapping works in India, which would be different from that in another country.
The second stage is to have more charging stations and get B2B players like Zypp to use them and test the waters before they move to B2C, where companies like Hero MotoCorp fit in.
He said his company was building an open network that could be used by many vehicle makers and it was not an exclusive arrangement.
In Taiwan, for instance, 10 vehicle makers, Yamaha and Suzuki included, use the Gogoro network.
But Lucas did not elaborate on its electric scooter play in the market. He said the firm had a dozen-odd models ready — from high-performance products to lightweight ones with coverage of 5-10 km. But while he was not ready to give out the Indian strategy, he said in Taiwan it had seven-eight partners for electric two-wheelers.
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