Indian Origin British Billionaire and the Executive Chairman of Liberty House Group, Sanjeev Gupta has hinted that it could start building Formula 1-inspired electric vehicles in India and Australia early next decade confirmed a report on Bloomberg. Sanjeev is considering to add automobiles to its existing global businesses that span from banking to manufacturing of steel.
Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance aims to build a budget, lightweight city car on a design developed by Gordon Murray, former McLaren Racing and Brabham technical director. Both will join forces to build electric vehicles as electric mobility takes the center stage globally. It is also a part of his push into auto supply chain.
“We are talking about city cars, about small, light, very, very economical cars,” Sanjeev Gupta said in an interview to Bloomberg in Sydney. “We will launch both in India and in Australia.”
GFG has been selected as preferred bidder for Indian auto parts maker Amtek Auto, and acquiring its assets will give it a platform for further expansion in the second-most populous nation, Gupta said.
In India, EVs only contribute to about 0.1% of India's total new vehicle sales, but going forward the trend will change. With electric vehicles, a prime focus for the Indian government and huge tenders to procure them will see the demand rising. It is expected that EVs will play a crucial role in private car segments post 2023 as more affordable models enter the market and more prominent charging infrastructure is installed. Likes of Mahindra and Tata Motors are already manufacturing electric cars in India and soon we will see likes of Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, and Hyundai rolling out electric cars in India.
In Australia, with GM Holden announcing the closure of country's last manufacturing plant, the demise of its car industry has created an opportunity, according to Sanjeev Gupta, who’s relocated there following local deals including the purchase of the steel and iron ore assets of Arrium Ltd. from receivers. The closure of the country’s last auto plants in recent years has offered potential opportunities to acquire parts of assembly lines or body shops, he said.
Acquiring an existing plant would help GFG’s entry into production, meaning it could begin as soon as 2020. However, such a time-frame would be ambitious, says Gupta. “Launching a car is not a joke, it’s a big undertaking,” he said in the interview last week. “If we are to do something with an existing plant then it’ll be faster.” Capital expenditure to enter production may be less than $500 million, “but not much south of that,” he said.
Gordon Murray’s iStream design works to reduce the weight using motorsport techniques of a regular vehicle. It claims to cut the cost of an assembly plant by as much as 80 percent with a simplified production process. The former Formula 1 car designer also plans to move into production for external customers as per a statement released in October 2018. Gordon Murray Design Ltd. declined to comment on Gupta’s plans.
Japanese motorcycle maker Yamaha has produced prototypes using Murray’s iStream platform, including the MOTIV compact city car showcased at a 2013 motor show in Tokyo, a two-seater sports vehicle and an SUV. Yamaha is considering bringing one of the concepts to market, the company’s then-Chief Executive Officer Hiroyuki Yanagi, now chairman, said in October.
GFG, also produces automobile components in the U.K., has made a bid for AR Industries, a French manufacturer of aluminum wheels and is constructing a two million wheels a year plant in Scotland, next to its smelter in Fort William.
With inputs from Bloomberg