February 25, 2021: India’s second largest lead battery maker, Amara Raja, announced on February 21 it would begin work on developing lithium-ion cells.
Commenting on the move, CEO Vijayanand Samudrala also emphasized his confidence in the lead-acid battery industry.
Amara Raja joins main rival Exide Industries in moving into the lithium sector, however whereas Exide opened a plant to assemble lithium batteries under a contract with Swiss battery maker Leclanché, Amara Raja is aiming to manufacture the batteries itself.
“The advanced lithium-ion technology research hub, the pilot project located at its headquarters in Tirupati, will become the country’s first lithium-ion cell manufacturing facility in the private sector over the next few years,” Vijayanand was quoted by media outlets as saying.
The company had already spent ₹20 crore ($2.8 million) on the hub in a technology transfer agreement with the Indian Space Research Organization, Vijayanand said.
Under the tech transfer agreement, ISRO will help Amara Raja and another nine companies — Bharat Electronics in Pune; Carborundum Universal in Kochi; Exicom Tele-Systems in Gurgaon; GOCL Corporation in Hyderabad; Jyoti CNC Automation in Rajkot; Nalcom in Bhubaneswar; Sukhbir Agro Energy in Delhi; Tata Chemicals; and Thermax — set up lithium-ion cell manufacturing units and train their staff, a statement said.
Vijayanand said EV development, with a focus on the batteries, was in line to get ₹18,000 crore ($2.5 billion) in government subsidies under a production-linked incentive scheme that was announced in November.
He was also quoted as emphasizing the importance of lead-acid batteries, saying he was confident the industry would ‘continue to grow at least for a few more decades’ and that it would take time for lithium-ion batteries in EVs to gain commercial traction as they were still mostly imported from China.