Billionaire Baba Kalyani’s flagship Bharat Forge recently revealed its plans to jump onto India’s electric vehicle (EV) bandwagon. The $500 million (revenue) company, which is best known for making auto parts that are exported around the world, said it’s getting into the business of producing electric two- and three-wheelers through its associate company Tork Motors. The first model is expected in the market in 2022.
Tork Motors positions itself as India’s first premium electric motorcycle company, having developed two-wheeler powertrains since 2009. Bharat Forge first acquired a 45% stake in Tork Motors in 2018 that was later increased to 49%. Tork Motors develops high-performance electric motorcycle and electric powertrains for cargo and passenger three-wheelers.
Last week, Bharat Forge said Tork Motors had met the subsidy requirements of the government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles Phase II (FAME-II) scheme, a program aimed at boosting the purchases of EVs with subsidies for buyers.
Bharat Forge’s website features details of Tork Motors T6X model, which is said to be still under development. Powered by lithium-ion batteries, Tork claims the T6X can reach a top speed of 100 kmph and can travel 100 km on a single charge. It also comes with a quick charge feature that promises to charge up to 80% of the battery in an hour.
Bharat Forge will be joining an increasingly crowded field of competitors made up of startups like Ola Electric and Ather Energy alongside many well-established auto companies, such as Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor Company, Hero Electric, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Hyundai Motor India.
The pandemic took a heavy toll on Bharat Forge and the company’s revenue fell by 20% to 36.5 billion rupees ($492 million) in fiscal year 2021, but it began to show signs of recovering more recently. Last week, the Pune-based company beat analyst expectations for the first quarter when it reported a net income of 1.67 billion rupees on revenue of 13.7 billion rupees.
Bharat Forge said India’s auto industry continued to be under pressure last year. the production of passenger vehicles as well as medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the country declined by 47% and 24%, respectively, between the fiscal years 2018 and 2021. Beside auto, the company also produces components for the defense, aerospace, power, construction and mining, oil and gas, and rail and marine sectors.
“We are hungry for growth, we have a strong balance sheet, we have a lot of cash on our balance sheet, we have a pretty strong performance going on,” Baba Kalyani said to CNBC TV18 last week following the release of the company’s latest earnings results.
He said they’re looking at opportunities to grow businesses that have relevance for the future, adding “we have done a lot of string of pearls type investments in technology space connected with electric vehicles and mobility.”
Bharat Forge also has a 35% stake in U.K.-based Tevva Motors, which develops powertrain solutions for commercial vehicles with rights to use its technologies in India. Another notable investment is the 50-50 joint venture Bharat Forge formed with Refu Electronik GmbH of Germany for developing, manufacturing and selling on-board controllers and components for hybrid and electric vehicles.