Micromax plans to join electric vehicle race

New Delhi: Micromax Informatics plans to join electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, since it facing a very tough time in its mobile core business.

Micromax has done all the testing formalities for the vehicles and has got approvals for some of its lithium battery categories.

The company is keen on entering the e-two and three-wheeler categories and its prototypes are being tested, industry sources have said. It recently got certification for lithium batteries for e-rickshaws and e-autos. The Gurugram-based mobile phone and consumer durables maker is in talks with various investors for funding, sources have further said.

“We’re looking into electric vehicles, but it’s still early days. We’re talking to technology partners,” Rajesh Agarwal, co-founder of Micromax, told ET, confirming the company’s venture into electric vehicles, but declined to share further details.

Another company executive said on the condition of anonymity that entering into the electric vehicle segment was a big opportunity as only a handful of players existed and there’s demand from both private and government sides.

“There are very limited players in the e-three wheelers segment – Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, TVS and Piaggio Ape – while the e-rickshaw market is largely unorganised. Scope in electric two-wheelers segment is very wide. With the government’s focus on promoting e-mobility, we expect the electric three-wheelers and two-wheelers to pick up quickly,” said the executive.

He said that companies such as Uber and Ola were also looking at mass procurement, while most states are already supporting electric vehicles through policies.

The Union government is considering fiscal and other incentives for electric vehicles under the second phase of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which may include waiving of registration and road tax on sale of electric vehicles. The government is also considering duty waivers and incentives for manufacturers.

The executive said that “Micromax is preparing to tap these opportunities”.

Once the company’s prototypes receive approval from government testing authorities, the company is expected to finalise the location for the manufacturing unit.

“The facility has to be supported by the ecosystem existing at places like Pune, Bangalore or Chennai,” the executive said.

Micromax’s lithium batteries for e-rickshaws and e-autos got government certification about 15 days ago and are already in the market. The battery manufacturing business is also in synergy as the company already sources lithium cells in the country for phones.

Micromax’s entry into electric vehicles can be seen as an extension of its foray into consumer electronics, analysts said.

, adding that diversification into other products was only natural as competition on both handset side and in consumer durables showed no signs of relenting.

China-based players such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo have dislodged Indian players from the top five rankings and have taken 54% share of the market as of 2017 end.

Among the handset and consumer electronic makers, Micromax would be the first one to go down this road, even as it struggles to strengthen its existing mobile business in the face of fierce competition from the Chinese.

Consumer electronics currently contributes almost 20% to Micromax’s total revenue, which is roughly about 6,000 crore. With the launch of the new products in this segment, the company expects consumer electronics to have 30% share in overall revenue by March 2019. By 2020, revenues worth 2,000 crore would come from consumer electronics, while the rest would come from mobile phones.

The company has been progressively launching products such as laptops, tablets, televisions and air conditioners, and recently revealed plans to introduce washing machines, refrigerators and air coolers.

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