Precision Camshafts targets LCVs for retro-fitting

by Shahkar Abidi 18 Jan 2022


Solapur-based Precision Camshafts (PCL) is targeting India’s burgeoning Light commercial vehicle (LCV) market for the retrofitment of electric vehicles, its whole time-director, Karan Shah, Business Development, told Autocar Professional.

According to Shah, the focus on LCVs in India is based on an extensive market research by PCL which indicated good demand in the sub-3 tonne LCVs such as  the Leyland Dost, Tata Ace,  and the Suzuki Super Carry.

On an annual basis, sub-3 tonne vehicles sold in the region of 500,000 units and have been deployed for mid and last-mile-connectivity. As per Shah’s estimates , nearly 2 million of LCVs are already running on Indian roads, a significant part of which are used by  companies in the e-commerce space, logistics and retailers.

Precision is considering setting up a plant in Pune, or may just establish one in Solapur initially. The entire process is expected to last for about three months, with the company hopes to roll out its retrofitted vehicles by the end of 2022 itself. The management says it is in talks with prospective customers from e-commerce, logistics and retail space.

The adoption of electric mobility for the LCV segment is more likely given the comparatively lower upfront cost of conversion from a diesel powertrain aver industry experts. A back-of-envelope calculation suggests that the Dost, for instance comes for around Rs 6.6 lakh but if retrofitted to electric can take up the final on-road price to the Rs 10-12 lakh bracket, which the fleet owner can recover in about just over a year to a 18 months. In comparison, a Force Traveller mini-bus that costs between Rs 11 and Rs 14 lakh may need an upfront cost which may go upwards of Rs 20 lakh just for  conversion alone.  " This conversion cost for LCVs will not act as a deterrent for the buyer, Shah remarked, citing the same market research suggesting that LCV fleet owners are much more open to conversion than those using heavier vehicles. 

The company's market strategy, Shah told says is to offer two options for conversion deals -  one in which the owner  hands over the fleet to the company for conversion, and in the  second option, PCL is considering purchase either used or new LCVs on fleet owner's behalf and retrofitting it with an electric system. 

PCL’s customer profile includes OEMs such as Ford Motor, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra, Volkswagen, Tata Motors, and General Motors, amongst others. It has currently put on hold all its capex and expansion plans due to the uncertainties arising from Covid19 and semiconductor shortages.

While PCL’s EV retrofitting business in India is still at a nascent stage, its EV business in Europe on the other hand has worked out well. Its European arm has orders for the next 2-2.5 years. The company had identified EMOSS Mobile Systems, a Netherlands-based EV company providing retrofitting of ICE trucks and buses into electric. PCL first acquired a controlling stake of 51 percent in EMOSS in 2018 before taking up the rest two years later in 2020. EMOSS soon took off clocking close to Euro 20 million (approximately Rs 170 crore) during 2021, about four times the revenues it earned before its acquisition in 2017.