Power and automation major ABB is upbeat about the e-mobility market in India and plans to expand its manufacturing facilities here to add fast battery charging solutions to its portfolio. In an interview to Nishtha Saluja and Sarita Singh, global chief executive Ulrich Spiesshofer talks about the Swiss company’s localisation plans and focus areas. Edited excerpts:
India is going very big on e-mobility. How well are you placed to deliver the charging infrastructure?
For e-mobility to happen, you need four building blocks. In India, we have a very strong local value end. In the renewables integration, more than 50% of the solar power is powered up with ABB technology. So, I think we are the ideal partner for India to really drive e-mobility going forward. We are also the ideal partner for car OEMs, to make sure that cars are rolling with the right charging infrastructure that we have.
Would you be delivering all of this out of India?
We will do this as we have done in all the new businesses that we brought in India. First, we will have the pilots and then we will localise the technology, put it into our local value chain, and have full local value and have job creation. Look at solar, we brought in global technology, we localised the technology, we set up a local value chain, invested in manufacturing, and today we are fully integrated. In the rail sector, we have done the same.
How much time does it take for you to set up a base or localise here?
Typically between the first pilot and starting manufacturing efforts is about six months’ time. We already have a very strong electronic supply chain in India, we do a lot of drives, power converters, solar inverters, which is a similar technology as being used in the EV charging side. It will not be difficult for us to add the fast-charger solution to existing electronics portfolio.
How much have you invested in the e-mobility sector in India?
We have already invested in the first pilots, we have invested in sales people training and local engineering. And that story will continue as the ramp up of demand comes. We will localise manufacturing, expand existing manufacturing facilities to make sure we have enough capacity and then we will drive that growth going forward.
There are a lot of concerns on the power transmission sector. We haven’t seen many orders in the past one year. How do you look at it?
In the power sector, you need to differentiate between the two types of orders. The base business is going very well and it is developing. On the large transmission orders and the very large projects, don’t expect them to come out every quarter, this is a lumpy business where sometimes a lot comes out then you need to wait a little bit and then comes the next project. So, overall, I am not concerned. I think India will continue to develop its power infrastructure and the projects will come. Altogether, I am very optimistic about the power sector here in India.
Is there any ballpark figure you’d like to give us, in terms of how you plan to scale up?
If you look at India as an economy, your growth forecast is somewhere between 7% and 8%. ABB has been historically outgrowing that growth. And that reflects very strongly in our investment, in innovation, and in technology development. Every year, ABB spends about $1.5 billion on R&D and about $1 billion on capital expenditure. India will continue to get a share of these investments. Of our 8,500 R&D people, 2,500 are working in India.
When do you see the electric mobility market maturing in India?
I think it will take a couple of decades before it fully matures, because this is a very fast ramp up market. We are at the beginning of the S curve of e-mobility in India, if you look at it, the next couple of years will be very significant growth. There are expected multiplication every year on the previous year, but coming from a small level. And in the next decade, there will be a strong ramp up. And India has some very specific characteristics that I think we can be very optimistic (about).
Could you talk about a couple of priority areas for ABB in India?
If you summarise what ABB is doing today, we’re based in two things. We bring power from any power plant to any consumption point of electricity. And we automate industries from natural resources to the readymade product. We will keep investing in R&D. We have signed a partnership agreement with the NITI Aayog, which really will be a significant step for both to contribute to make in India.
From Energy World