The electric vehicle segment is the flavour of the season and like it or not it is here to stay. But globally the scale and pace at which each segment will see the disruption is anybody’s guess. For Causis E-Mobility, part of the multi-billion-dollar Causis Impact Investment fund, India is going to play a key role in its global plans for green mobility.
In a conversation with Express Mobility, Ravi Panga, Director & CEO, Causis Group, revealed the company’s game plan. Edited excerpts.
Can you let us know what exactly is Causis Mobility?
Causis Mobility is auto all about net zero emissions and investments into social impact projects especially those related to climate change. I come with a background of more than three decades in the
commercial vehicle industry, especially in the mass mobility segment, which gives us an added advantage in the space.
Causis e-mobility is going to disrupt the mass mobility segment and for that, we are going to be the OEMs for our products; we will fund our projects; have our own charging infrastructure. We are also going to have our own renewable energy in the future but currently, we will use more of a green energy mix.
And finally in India in the EV ecosystem, we must be GCC (Gross Cost Contract) player which technically means that you have to operate the buses as well as you have to maintain the buses. And these are going to be long-term contracts for 12 years, that’s why Causis Mobility will tick all six boxes currently, except for renewable energy.
What kind of investments have you already made and plan to make in India?
If you look at the big picture then we would invest around $8 billion (Rs 64,632 crore) in India, which will see equity infusion of around $2 billion (Rs 16,158 crore) and in the debt market, we will leverage $6 billion (Rs 48,474 crore) in the next 24 to 36 months.
As of date we have invested roughly upwards of Rs 100-150 crore in India for various legs of operation as well as on the planned side and now we are leveraging the debt market partially funding ourselves for the current projects in hand.
By January 2023, we will expose ourselves in equity and a debt ratio combined of roughly $600 million (Rs 4,847 crore).
Despite being a relatively new entrant, you have also managed to win tenders for electric buses. Can you share more details about the same?
We are the proud owners of 700 electric double-decker bus order for the most important client in India, BEST, Mumbai. We are electrifying 700 double-decker buses out of the 900 double-decker bus order released so far.
We got the contract sometime in February and we finally Inked the deal in August with BEST and the government of Maharashtra.
You will be able to see the actual buses in December, but the prototype will be showcased by October to our customers. It will take operational preparedness for the depot charging infrastructure, the home location so by the new year for sure we’ll have electric double-decker buses on the streets of Mumbai.
We also got an L1 category in KDMT (Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Transport) to supply 9-metre and 12-metre buses. We already have production done for the first 27 e-buses in our Jaipur plant.
In the CV space, electrification is limited to the bus and the SCV segment. What about the trucking segment?
The trucking industry is divided into four major segments – Small Commercial Vehicle (SCV), Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV), Intermediate Commercial Vehicle (ICV) and Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV). I have no doubt that the SCV, LCV and a portion of ICV & medium duty up to 16-tonne will be good for battery technologies. In the SCV space, we could see a mix of both fixed battery and battery swap technologies.
As we go beyond 16-tonne segment, I think we’ll have to rely on fuel cell and hydrogen base and that’s why you could see that there’s a lot of noise happening on that hydrogen storage and hydrogen transportation. I think the country is in the right direction and
there will be a clear-cut demarcation in the trucking industry.
Anything below 16-tonne and especially in the intra-city, short radius of 25-50km, etc will be more battery-based and the long haul probably above 16-tonne will adopt hydrogen with the ecosystem like petrol pumps.
Trucking is a great example where you will find a mix of battery as well as fuel cell hydrogen-based technologies.
What about intense competition between new entrants and legacy players in the e-bus space in India?
When you come to the real competitors, especially in mass mobility the players are going to be limited it won’t be more than 6 to 10 players. Of which also it’s equally divided that 5 major players from the commercial vehicle industry will be there in the e-mobility side but they continue with their IC-vehicle exposure because that industry is not going to die in the next two decades.
Those OEMs will need to strike a balance. Newcomers like us will also be there because initially, technology will be a big differentiator, there are some Chinese-dependent technology players and there are players like us who are European.
There will be a right mix of the old houses of the automobile industry and the newcomers because this is an extremely technology-driven segment.
It is also capital intensive so startup companies with a good ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) backup or carbon neutral funders, especially from the west coast of America or Europe the industry will see the right mix of people in terms of technology and capital exposure.
That’s why I foresee that in mass mobility there will be a limited place for sure the big names in the trade in the ICE will be there as competition newcomers like us will also coexist.
But the reality is that the market is so huge even if the ten of us don’t have to compete. The good point is we must collaborate with each other because infrastructure has to be shared and the synergies have to be shared.
The funding can be put in equal envelopes so that we all get at a lower cost of capital.
To watch the full interview