India’s diversified conglomerate JSW Group, known for its presence in sectors ranging from steel to energy, is reportedly engaged in preliminary discussions with Chinese automaker Leapmotor to potentially license technology for manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs) in India.
Sources familiar with the talks revealed that under the envisaged technology licensing agreement, JSW Group would leverage Leapmotor’s platform, which serves as the foundational structure for a vehicle, to produce EVs in India under its own brand. This marks JSW Group’s second endeavor to enter the burgeoning EV industry.
Sources indicate that JSW Group is likely to adopt a unified platform for the creation of at least three mid-sized sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), with engineering support from Leapmotor to tailor these vehicles for the Indian market. However, the timeline for initiating production remains undisclosed at this stage.
While JSW Group’s discussions with Leapmotor are ongoing, the company’s aspirations in the EV domain have also included talks regarding a potential stake acquisition in MG Motor India, a subsidiary of China’s SAIC Motor. However, progress on those negotiations is said to have slowed.
The Indian EV market, while modest at present, is witnessing rapid growth. Tata Motors holds a dominant position, with EV sales constituting less than 2 percent of total car sales in the previous fiscal year. Nonetheless, India’s government aims to escalate EV sales to comprise 30 percent of total car sales by 2030.
JSW Group’s intention to develop and sell EVs under its own brand underscores its focus on acquiring technology and expertise rather than merely investing in or forming partnerships with established carmakers. The conglomerate is reported to have held discussions with other Chinese automakers as well.
While neither JSW nor Leapmotor provided official comments, JSW’s Chairman, Sajjan Jindal, has expressed interest in venturing into the EV sector and has acknowledged discussions with MG Motor. This isn’t JSW Group’s first foray into EVs; it initially explored this domain in 2016.
In recent reports, JSW has also been linked to discussions with Chinese entities for technology, along with considerations to acquire Ford Motor Co’s defunct southern India plant.
Leapmotor, founded in 2015, holds a small share of China’s fragmented EV market. It has unveiled a new EV platform and aims to license it to other automakers. Collaborating with JSW Group would provide Leapmotor access to India’s market, a significant opportunity amidst challenges Chinese companies face in setting up manufacturing due to tighter foreign investment rules.
Tesla, another major player, is also exploring the Indian market and is in talks with the government about establishing a manufacturing facility for affordable EVs. The Indian government is working on a scheme to attract EV manufacturers through reduced import taxes in exchange for local manufacturing investment.