JSW Steel in Talks with Leapmotor for EV Technology Licensing in India
JSW Steel Limited has gained over 2% in morning trade on September 1 due to reports of the company's early-stage discussions with Chinese automaker Leapmotor to license technology for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing in India. This move signals JSW's intent to enter the growing EV business in the country.
The Licensing Agreement
Under the prospective agreement, JSW would utilize Leapmotor's platform to manufacture EVs in India under its own brand name. While these discussions are private, JSW's chairman, Sajjan Jindal, has publicly expressed the company's interest in manufacturing EVs in India.
JSW Group, the parent entity of JSW Steel, has been actively exploring opportunities in the EV segment. Recent reports indicate that promoter entities of JSW Group are engaged in talks with various Chinese electric car manufacturers to introduce an EV priced in the range of ₹15-20 lakh for the Indian market. Additionally, the company is in the race to acquire a stake in MG Motor India, a British marque owned by China’s largest carmaker, Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).
MG Motor Acquisition as Plan A
JSW Group's primary strategy to enter the electric vehicle segment is through the acquisition of MG Motor India. This acquisition would potentially involve legacy internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, although the primary focus remains on electric vehicles. Sajjan Jindal is poised to acquire between 45 and 48% of MG Motor India, making it an Indian entity with the majority of ownership and control. The valuation of MG Motor under discussion ranges from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.
Sajjan Jindal emphasizes the group's seriousness about entering the EV space, with MG Motor as the preferred choice. However, the group is also concurrently working on developing its own EV cars as a backup plan.
Plan B: Ford's Facility Acquisition
In case the talks with MG Motor do not materialize, JSW Group has formulated a Plan B. It involves acquiring Ford's facility in Chennai to expand its manufacturing capacity. The Halol facility of MG Motor has the capacity to produce approximately 150,000 vehicles per year.
Indian EV Market and Growth Potential
Electric car sales in India reached 18,917 in the June quarter, with Tata Motors leading with 10,846 units, followed by MG Motor at 1,902 units. While India's EV market currently represents less than 2 percent of all car sales, rapid growth is anticipated. The Indian government aims to boost EV sales to 30 percent of the total market by 2030.
JSW's interest in licensing technology from Leapmotor reflects the global interest in India's EV market. Tesla, for instance, is in talks with the Indian government to establish a manufacturing facility for affordable EVs. The government is also considering incentives such as lower import taxes to attract EV manufacturers to invest in local production.
Leapmotor's Position in the Market
Leapmotor, founded in 2015, holds less than 2% of China's competitive EV market, where it offers four mass-market electric models. The company recently unveiled a new EV platform with the intention of licensing it to other automakers.
JSW Steel's potential collaboration with Leapmotor and its ongoing discussions with MG Motor India and other Chinese automakers signify the company's strategic move into India's burgeoning electric vehicle market. As India's automotive landscape transforms, JSW Group is actively positioning itself to be a key player in the country's electric mobility future.
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