Infrastructure has got a decided push in recent times. Just a few months ago, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said that the Government aims to build 18,000 km of highways this fiscal with a daily target of 50 kms per day. This year the fund allocation by the government is almost twice, almost close to 1.5 lakh crores.
Welcoming the development in this segment, Sanjeev Babbar, Director, JCBL said, “almost every OEM today has their hands full in terms of providing construction equipment, be it tippers or other heavy equipment. As of now, people are falling short of capacity to cater to the demand.”
Babbar pointed out that specifically from JCBL’s persperctive, “we are running at peak capacity. In the North facility as far as tippers and trailers are concerned, we are doing close to around say 2000 applications. In our dedicated facility in Chennai for doing the tippers as well as heavy haulage trailers for Ashok Leyland and Bharat Benz also, we have enhanced our production capacity by almost twice.”
JCBL is currently targetting around 800 tippers from the Chennai facility, double of its last year’s production. “So, for us as a company, I think it is a huge opportunity and is a big-time business for us also this financial year. Actually, in both, the passengers and goods segment we are looking at achieving almost twice the numbers like we used to do in 2017-2018,” Babbar added.
Electrification not immediate focus for construction equipments
Speaking about the electrification trend, especially in the construction equipment space, he said it is more in the “development stages right now. We are not yet at the stage of mass production.” This he feels is because the biggest thrust is towards the passenger transport segment.
So gradually it is going to penetrate to other applications. But as of now, it requires quite a bit of work. Almost 90-95% of the portfolio of electric is going to involve only the automotive passenger applications and not the application of the goods. “I think maybe a year or so from now we should be able to see other applications also in the non-fossil fuel segment,” he elaborated giving a realistic assessment of the current market dynamics.
Read More: JCBL operating at peak capacity, hopes to hit pre-pandemic levels by FY2023-end
Economies of scale important
However, he feels the key monitorables in this context are the relative development of the charging ecosystem coupled with economies of scale. The viability of using an electric powertrain only comes when you are logging a minimum number of kilometers. Even for a city application, it is only viable and sustainable when you run the vehicle for maybe a minimum of an average of 200 kilometers every day. “If you are not going to run the vehicle for 200 kilometers every day, then you are not able to have sustainability, or the economics of the scale doesn’t work,” explained Babbar.
He added that with tippers, there is a payload of around 50 tonnes starting from anywhere between 50 to 250-tonne load. For carrying a 50-tonne load on an electric powertrain and battery, the cost of it needs to be ascertained. According to Babbar, “this is not going to be sustainable; the cost of an electric tipper is going to be at least ten times the cost of a conventional tipper.”
He believes till the time a proper ecosystem is evolved for each product, it isn’t going to be workable and sustainable. He signed off saying that the main objective should be minimising the total cost of ownership for the end users. That is what will drive mass adoption.