“Price is a bottleneck for the growth and usage of lithium-ion batteries in India”

  • Interviews
  • Aug 26,23
Best Power Equipments (India) Private Limited popularly known as one of the largest supplier of high-quality UPS to various OEMs widely distributed through corporate partners and system integrators. Sushil Virmani, Managing Director, BPE in this interview with Ayushi Khandelwal tells that lithium ion market is a growing trend in batteries today. India should look to quickly catch-up with the international market in production and distribution terms.
“Price is a bottleneck for the growth and usage of lithium-ion batteries in India”

Kindly brief us about your company

BPE is an Indian manufacturer of power solution products. We provide clean power to the end load. We set up our operation two decades back and last month, we celebrated 23 years of the company. If we look into the past, 20-22 years back, this market was dominated by but over the years a lot of companies have closed down or merged. But BPE stood tall, faced competition from MNCs and faced all the other challenges. Today, we are proud to say that it is one of the largest power solution manufacturers in India. We manufacture the entire range of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), customised smart rack solutions, solar inverters, static switches etc. We also have the full basket of products in megawatts. We supply up to 8 MW in monolithic UPS and up to 6 MW modular UPS. We have different categories of products, entry-level products, intermediate products and premium-level products, to meet the needs and objectives of Indian customers. We are serving end users in healthcare, data centres in IT, pharmaceutical, construction segment, retail segments, banking and finance industry and many more.

We have facilities in Noida and Greater Noida with total manufacturing in about 30,000 square feet of area. We are exporting to South East Asian and African countries. We have a functional office in Singapore and recently, we have opened a new office in Dubai. We are also looking to set up our distribution network in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia in the coming future.

What are some trends and driving factors for batteries/UPS in India?

This is a segment that is not going to see a recession, at least in the coming years. Every industry requires an uninterrupted power supply for their operation. In the kind of digital economy we are in right now, even one small interruption can create havoc. We cannot afford to have a power breakdown even for an hour and that is a kind of importance it caters. The need for sophisticated and reliable performing equipment is very important. Power is an inherent part of any segment. So, quality power is one thing, which is gaining tremendous visibility and momentum. Power is just a black box for a consumer but I would suggest that the consumer should be very careful on what product they are buying. Reliability, long life, uninterrupted performance, and high efficiency are important aspects to consider in the Indian supply conditions. 

Lithium ion industry is also going to mushroom in India will also benefit our kind of industry because of the compact size and longevity of the life of the batteries. Worldwide, there's a limited stock of lithium-ion and it might not last like oil for these many years, it has a short life. New technologies might come after 50-40 years. So, the earlier the better, we can take advantage of it. 5G Telecom boom, data centres, financial institutions, digital economy, manufacturing, etc, all these things are driving the growth of this sector.

How the government is helping companies in this sector grow. What suggestions would you provide to the government to support this industry?

For this industry, we don't see any direct benefit coming from government schemes currently, but indirect benefits are definitely there. Our products go into a lot of sectors, and any scheme or incentive announced in the related sector boosts demand for our products. Other than that, since we have entered into exports, government regulations have made it pretty easy now, and GST has made it very easy for us to perform our job.

Since we are one of the users of lithium-ion batteries in India with our products, we have seen its requirements growing exponentially in the last three years. Another major user of Li-ion batteries in the country is electric vehicles, which again experiencing robust growth. Many manufacturers, Indian as well as foreign, are setting up facilities in India. According to me, price is one sensitive part which is a bottleneck for the growth and usage of lithium-ion batteries in India. So, if the government can look to provide incentives to this particular industry segment. Definitely, it will benefit the nation in terms of growth in manufacturing, and also it will benefit users. China is the leader in this segment. We are not even 10 per cent of the market as compared to China. So, there is a long way to go. Korea is another big market. I had a meeting with a design team of some Korean companies 18 years back and that’s when they started designing their products. Today, these companies are the world leaders. So, I think we need to quickly catch up with the international market. A lot of incentives and support to this segment will help us to reduce imports and grow.

How is the international market for batteries/UPS manufacturers in India?
 
See, no countries are alike. They have different kinds of market conditions. Some are price sensitive, some look at the products with the value propositions, and sometimes distribution systems are different. So, we have categories of products, entry-level, intermediate and premium quality products, and with this, we can place our products in the international market as per the need. The Indian market has a very fragile supply and distribution system. With the growing population, the power demand is also growing but we are unable to keep up with a modernised distribution system. So, if our products are capable of working in India, then it can withstand with the other markets as well. But looking at my experience, today, the image of India has changed at the global scale as what it 10 years back. IT and the service industry have made a good contribution to building this image of the country.

What are your growth plans for the coming future?

Our strategy is very clear. We want to continuously outgrow the market by introducing new products and features, adding new customers, and expanding geographically like we have been doing for the past 10 years. So, we are seeing a very robust market growth in India, even during Covid our demand was there in the health sector. So, our target in the next four to five years is to touch at least 200 per cent growth. We are a profitable company, hardly having any debts and we are strategising to capitalise more. Our business strategy is very clear, serving the B2B market. We are proud to have 1000s of channel partners working for us across India and that's our strength. We focus on training, hand-holding them, and coming out with the kind of studies to help them to grow. Currently, our exports are less than 10 per cent of our total production but after a few years, this ratio will be going up and up. We are also participating in the data centre event in Singapore in the coming October.

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