Amara Raja Batteries, a leading Indian battery manufacturer, has announced plans to establish a new giga-scale manufacturing plant, with a primary focus on producing Li-ion cells and battery packs optimised for the unique conditions found in India. The move is part of the company’s efforts to transition from a sole manufacturer of lead-acid batteries to a player in energy and mobility.
According to C. Niranjan, AVP and head of operations and projects at the company, the company’s next phase of growth will be a shift to the lithium-ion battery space and solutions for electric mobility. This segment focuses on lowering carbon footprints and the emergence of lithium-ion chemistry as an advanced energy storage technology.
“Under this focus area of Energy & Mobility, Amara Raja decided to make important investments in creating relevant infrastructure and in building capabilities,” Niranjan said. “As part of the initial investments in this space, we will be setting up a first-of-its-kind advanced energy research and innovation center called ‘Amara Raja E +ve’ in Telangana. In addition, we plan to set up a manufacturing plant in giga scale that will primarily focus on manufacturing Li-ion cells and battery packs that are best suited for Indian driving conditions.”
The gigafactory being built in Telangana will eventually have a capacity of around 16 GWh. The final capacity of the battery pack unit assembly for automotive and industrial applications will be 5 GWh. The total estimated investment to achieve these capacities will be around Rs 9,500 crore (INR95 billion, or approximately US$1.15 billion) over the next ten years.
“In the first phase of New Energy Business, we plan to invest Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,700 crore in the next 2-3 years, which will include setting up of an innovation center, customer qualification plant with 60 MWh capacity and a 2 GWh cell manufacturing facility,” Niranjan said. “In subsequent phases, we will commence operations based on the overall demand and estimate that in each phase, the investment range would be Rs 2,500 crore. The first phase of the factory (up to 2 GWh) will be operational by April 2026.”
Amara Raja is passionate about developing an ecosystem in India for the design, development, and manufacturing of advanced cell technologies. The company is utilising a variety of cell chemistry and form factor technologies, including NMC (nickel manganese cobalt), LFP (lithium ferrophosphate), LTO (lithium-titanium-oxide), and others in cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch form factors.
“We have also developed an HV Li-ion Battery pack for e-mobility application, active liquid cooling system with IoT features,” Niranjan said. “We also realize that there are a number of promising start-ups in the Li-ion technology space, and we are continuously exploring opportunities to develop globally competitive technology and manufacturing infrastructure as part of our gigafactory investments. Previously, Amara Raja Batteries has invested in Indian and European start-ups working in this area.”
Of course, there are challenges in the sector, and they begin with the procurement of raw materials for EV batteries. India imports nearly 70% of its Li-ion cell requirements. The country also has limited access to key raw materials such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and manganese, which account for 80% of cell costs. Niranjan, on the other hand, is confident that he will overcome these obstacles.
“As per the government of India estimates, the country will require 60 GWh of Li-ion cells by 2025 and 120 GWh by 2030,” Niranjan said. “This is all due to the increasing penetration of electric vehicles in the country, which in turn is pushing the demand for Li-ion batteries, a major component of an EV.”
Lithium reserves were recently discovered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi District. If the resource and purity are significant, the country could be placed on the global EV roadmap and help meet domestic demand. However, most Li-ion cells are currently imported, and there is a need to push for local manufacturing of Li-ion batteries in order to reduce the cost of EVs.
Several other Indian firms have announced the establishment of lithium-ion cell and battery manufacturing plants. Aside from inherent demand, the Indian government’s schemes such as the National Mission on Transformative Mobility, tax breaks, and the PLI (incentives) for cell manufacturing are also boosting the sector’s prospects.
Amara Raja’s decision to expand into energy and mobility, as well as establish a manufacturing plant for Li-ion cells and battery packs suitable for Indian driving conditions, demonstrates a strong commitment to the EV market.
With the Indian government’s cell manufacturing initiatives and incentives, as well as the country’s increasing demand for EVs, the company’s investment in this area could pay off handsomely. Furthermore, as EV technology and infrastructure advance, Amara Raja’s foresight positions it well to be a key player in India’s future EV landscape.
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