HELIOS Expanding Its Operations To Tanzania
The electric vehicle industry in India has been demanding support from government to boost the promotion and adoption of electric vehicles in the country. The major part of the EVs is batteries and most of the companies rely on lithium-ion batteries for their vehicles. Talking to Opportunity India, Sabareesan P, CEO, HELIOS BATTERIES speaks about the future of electric vehicle batteries in India.
Following are the excerpt from the conversation:
Which companies do you provide your batteries to? Do you have clients from other countries also?
Sabareesan P: We manufacture batteries for electric mobility and energy storage systems (ESS). Within the e-mobility sector, we supply batteries to various E-bike, electric two-wheelers (2W), and electric three-wheeler (3W) original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), with a majority of our clients located in South India.
Additionally, we have a strong collaboration with the Tamil Nadu government to develop battery packs for garbage vehicles. Due to confidentiality agreements (NDAs) with our clients, we are unable to disclose their names. Regarding our international presence, we indeed serve clients from various other countries.
Furthermore, we are expanding our operations to Tanzania with our new venture, Tannova, where we will be engaged in the production of electric two-wheelers (2W) and three-wheelers (3W), as well as battery packs. In addition to our Tanzanian endeavour, we have established relationships with clients in Kenya and Dubai. Presently, we are directing our efforts towards the European market.
Battery price and safety are two major challenges for manufacturers. How are you dealing with issues like these?
Sabareesan P: India is undeniably a market where price sensitivity plays a significant role. However, our primary mission revolves around delivering secured battery solutions to our clients. We remain unwavering in our commitment to both the quality and the safety of our battery packs, recognizing their close interaction with human users. To uphold these standards, we consistently employ top-tier raw materials in the manufacturing process, despite the associated higher costs compared to lower-quality alternatives.
During the quotation phase, we take the opportunity to elucidate the significance of utilizing high-quality raw materials to our clients. If they find our proposal acceptable, we extend the offer of a sample battery pack for performance testing at their facility. Even after this stage, we remain flexible to accommodate any necessary adjustments, ensuring that the client’s requirements are fully met.
Ultimately, our dedication to deliver a reliable product takes precedence, and we are prepared to forego business opportunities rather than compromise by using inferior components.
What according to you are the major challenges in the business of battery manufacturing in
Sabareesan P: The battery manufacturing business in India faces several significant challenges, including: Raw Material Dependency: India heavily relies on imports for crucial raw materials required for battery production, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. This dependency can result in supply chain vulnerabilities.
High Initial Investment: Establishing battery manufacturing facilities requires substantial capital investment, which can be a barrier for smaller companies or startups.
Technology and R&D: Developing and implementing advanced battery technologies and conducting research and development in the field require significant expertise and resources.
Quality and Safety: Ensuring high-quality and safe battery production is crucial, and any compromise in this area can lead to safety hazards and loss of consumer trust.
Regulatory Challenges: Adhering to regulatory standards and certifications, including environmental and safety standards, can be a complex and costly process.
Infrastructure and Power Supply: Sustaining large-scale manufacturing facilities demands reliable infrastructure and a stable power supply, which can be a challenge in some regions.
Environmental Impact: Addressing the environmental impact of battery production and disposal is crucial, as the industry needs to be sustainable and eco-friendly.
Global Market Dynamics: The global battery market is subject to international market dynamics and geopolitical factors, which can affect trade and pricing.
Skilled Workforce: Training and retaining a skilled workforce capable of producing advanced batteries is another challenge.
Recycling and Waste Management: Dealing with the recycling and proper disposal of batteries is vital to minimize environmental impact.
How do you look at one of the most important issues with batteries - its recycling and business opportunities there?
Sabareesan P: Battery recycling is undeniably a crucial issue for several reasons, including environmental sustainability, resource conservation, and business opportunities. Here's how I view this issue and the associated business opportunities:
Environmental Sustainability: Battery recycling is vital for reducing the environmental impact of discarded batteries. Many batteries contain hazardous materials, and improper disposal can lead to soil and water contamination. Recycling helps mitigate these risks.
Resource Conservation: Batteries contain valuable materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Recycling allows the recovery of these materials, reducing the need for new mining and extraction. This not only conserves resources but also reduces the environmental damage caused by mining.
Reducing E-Waste: As the use of batteries in various applications, especially in electronics and electric vehicles, continues to grow, so does the volume of electronic waste (e-waste). Proper recycling can help manage and reduce this growing issue.
Business Opportunities: Battery recycling presents significant business opportunities. Companies can specialize in collecting, processing, and recycling batteries. Additionally, they can extract valuable materials from used batteries, creating a secondary market for these materials.
Energy Storage: Reused and recycled batteries can find a second life as energy storage solutions. These "second-life" batteries are economically viable and environmentally friendly, opening up new markets for renewable energy storage.
Circular Economy: Battery recycling contributes to the development of a circular economy, where products are designed with recycling and sustainability in mind. This approach fosters a closed-loop system, reducing waste and promoting resource efficiency.
Regulatory Incentives: Governments and regulatory bodies often provide incentives and policies to encourage battery recycling. These can include tax incentives, waste management regulations, and producer responsibility programs.
Innovation and Technology: Battery recycling drives innovation in recycling technologies, making the process more efficient and economically viable. New methods for recycling and extracting materials continue to emerge, creating business opportunities in research and development.
How prepared are you for changing battery technologies? What is the future of Lithium-ion batteries?
Sabareesan P: Battery technologies are evolving rapidly to meet the growing demands of various industries, including electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, and portable electronics. Lithium-ion batteries are likely to remain a dominant energy storage technology for the foreseeable future due to their maturity, performance, and widespread adoption.
- One advance to keep an eye on this year is in so-called solid-state batteries. This swap unlocks possibilities that pack more energy into a smaller space, potentially improving the range of electric vehicles
- Sodium-ion batteries may not improve performance, but they could cut costs because they rely on cheaper, more widely available materials than lithium-ion chemistries do.
- One of the most promising technologies is battery swap, which allows EV owners to swap out their depleted batteries for fully charged ones at specialized stations.
- Battery manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers and utilities need to work together to make vehicle to grid technically possible on a large scale
- Battery analytics technology: The development of this technology embedded within batteries or as separate tools, and the sharing of key information derived from them, will help to efficiently determine the state of health and chemistry of battery cells or modules
- Implement design and systems for life extension and end-of-life treatment
What are your future plans?
Sabareesan P: Our aim is to serve as a comprehensive solution provider for all aspects of electric mobility and energy storage systems (ESS). Our dedicated research and development team is actively engaged in the design of electric vehicle (EV) chargers and charging station solutions. Additionally, we are in the process of developing our own line of inverters.
What will be your suggestions for budding entrepreneurs looking at battery manufacturing for the EV industry?
Sabareesan P: For budding entrepreneurs interested in battery manufacturing for the electric vehicle (EV) industry, here are some essential suggestions to consider:
Thorough Market Research: Understand the current and future demands of the EV industry, as well as the specific needs for batteries. Identify potential gaps and opportunities within the market.
Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest advancements in battery technology, as well as regulatory changes and industry trends. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions.
Sustainable Approach: Emphasize sustainability in your battery manufacturing process, considering eco-friendly materials and recycling methods. Sustainable practices are becoming increasingly important to consumers and regulators.
Financial Planning: Battery manufacturing is capital-intensive. Develop a comprehensive business plan and secure adequate funding for equipment, research and development, and operational costs.
Quality Assurance: Focus on producing high-quality, safe, and reliable battery products. Quality assurance is crucial to building trust with customers and ensuring the safety of end-users.
Research and Development: Invest in R&D to continually improve your battery technology and stay competitive. Innovations in energy density, safety, and charging capabilities are critical.
Regulatory Compliance: Understand and comply with industry regulations and safety standards, which may vary depending on your target markets. Compliance is vital for product acceptance and market access.
Supply Chain Management: Build resilient supply chains for raw materials and components. Diversify your sources to reduce dependency on a single supplier or region.
Safety and Testing: Implement robust testing and quality control processes to identify and mitigate potential issues before they reach the market. Safety is paramount in the battery industry.
Partnerships and Collaborations: Consider collaborations with research institutions, industry associations, and other businesses to leverage expertise and resources. Partnerships can help accelerate growth and innovation.
Customer Focus: Listen to your customers and be responsive to their needs. Customized solutions and excellent customer service can set you apart in a competitive market.
Scalability: Plan for scalability from the outset. Ensure that your manufacturing process can meet increasing demand as the EV market grows.
Risk Management: Identify and manage risks effectively. This includes geopolitical risks, supply chain disruptions, and economic fluctuations.
Brand Building: Develop a strong brand identity and marketing strategy to differentiate your products in a competitive market.
Global Perspective: Think about global expansion and export opportunities. Battery manufacturing may offer export potential, and considering international markets can be part of your long-term strategy