Exports key to building scale and bring down cost for EVs for Stellantis, says Deputy MD, Aditya Jairaj

Despite a modest market share in India, with its Jeep and Citroen brands, Stellantis is already profitable in India thanks to a few hundred-thousand-unit exports of engines and gearboxes from India to other parts of the world.

By Radhika Dave and Ketan Thakkar  calendar 29 Nov 2023 Views icon2466 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Exports key to building scale and bring down cost for EVs for Stellantis, says Deputy MD, Aditya Jairaj

Stellantis – Europe’s second biggest automaker which has leveraged India as a key export hub for internal combustion engine parts, sees the base playing a critical role for exports of EVs. 

Speaking at the Autocar Professional’s India EV Conclave in Chennai in partnership with the Tamil Nadu government, Aditya Jairaj, Deputy MD of Stellantis India said “Export is going to be a very significant strategy when looking at building volumes", and  added that deep localisation will help power this plan.

Despite a modest market share in India, with its Jeep and Citroen brands, Stellantis is already profitable in India thanks to a few hundred-thousand-unit exports of engines and gearboxes from India to other parts of the world.

To be sure, in an earlier interaction with Autocar Professional, Stellantis' global CEO Carlos Tavares had said that India already was a critical base for exports of engineering R&D and engines and gearboxes. He said the company has a sharp focus on localisation and it will look at localising battery cells and parts even in India and may use it for exports. Tavares said that the company makes its own motors, battery packs, software, and ACC cells, so it has a deep integration when it comes to EVs globally and that is something that they can attempt even in India, to ensure the right cost and affordability for electric vehicles.

Currently, Stellantis’ brands in India operate completely on their own, with manufacturing operations in two different locations. The Compass – as well as its derivative, the Meridian – are based on the FCA Small Wide platform and are manufactured in Ranjangaon, while the Citroen C3, eC3 and the C3 Aircross are all based on the CMP architecture and are made in Thiruvallur.

It also has another plant in Hosur that exclusively manufactures powertrains for domestic as well as export purposes. However, the current Compass range as well as Citroen’s C-cubed models will be the last ones to be based on their individual FCA and PSA architectures. Moving on, all models from both brands will be based on the common STLA platform for greater synergies not only globally but in India as well.

Unveiled earlier last month, Stellantis’ STLA M platform is understood to be making its way to India with the next-gen Jeep Compass in 2026 along with Citroen’s next-generation models, which will also use the same platform and EVs are a key part of that platform strategy.

Alluding to the South East Asian market, he said that it was a big market for them and was positioning India as an export hub for the region, beyond that Jairaj added, "We also are looking at Africa and the Middle East, but exports are going to be a very significant strategy when we look at volumes and vertical integration is again going to become significantly important when we look at keeping our cost structures very competitive," he added. 

He added that with Citroen, the company's localisation levels were over 90 percent. Despite being one of the last brands to arrive in the Indian market, Citroen has been quick to get into the EV market.

Speaking of the company's offerings, Jairaj said "We launched the e-C3, within 6 months of the ICE launch, that’s our commitment. When we launch an ICE vehicle, we are very quick to market when it comes to an EV. The reason for that is customer interest and demand and in order to take it to the next level," he added while remaining cognisant of the fact that the company has low volumes at the moment, even as it looks to make exports an important plank of its business strategy. 

Talking about the issues specifically concerning electric vehicles, he said that there were some 'limitations' the industry is facing at the moment in terms of the batteries, battery pack and cells localisation, so that is something that is being worked on along charging infrastructure.

He called for a common interface where consumers can look at all charging options and look at which chargers are available, working and easy ways of payments can be initiated.

"We have to be patient and focus on all the enablers in order to reach mass market adoption. So as an estimate, in 2030, 20-25% EV penetration, I would call good success," he added.

Stellantis, which came into existence after the amalgamation of Fiat Chrysler and the French PSA Group in 2021, currently sells its Jeep and Citroen brands in the country. It has three manufacturing plants, two R&D centres, and two technology hubs in India. It operates its Ranjangaon plant in a joint venture with Tata Motors for the production of certain vehicles, engines, and transmissions. 

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