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BHEL in talks to set up lithium-ion battery factory

State-run Maharatna company Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd is in the preliminary stage of talks with various global lithium ion battery manufacturers to set up a manufacturing unit in the country.

Heavy Industries minister Anant Geete said the PSU will have a 20 percent stake in the project while the partner will have a majority stake. Like many countries in the world, India has also embarked on electrifying its transport sector.

"We have made it clear that we want to go for 100 percent electric mobility. To do that effectively we need to produce the batteries here," Geete said. "Right now, all the batteries are imported from China. Even the plans for assembling the batteries that are underway now will see the cells being imported from China. But we want even the cells to be manufactured here. That is what BHEL will look to do."

The government had launched an over-arching FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) scheme in March 2015 to spur purchase and usage of electric vehicles in the country that expired in March but has been extended till September this year. Under this scheme, the government has given financial support to 186,431 electric or hybrid vehicles worth Rs 256.93 crore. Further, a grant of Rs 280 crore has been sanctioned for nearly 500 electric buses in 9 major cities in the country.

A revised version of the scheme, FAME 2, is under works where a much bigger corpus of Rs 9,300 crore for 5 years has been proposed. Out of this Rs 1000 crore would be for incentivising charging infrastructure in the country, which is cited as a major hindrance in proliferation of electric vehicles in the country.

"Discussion for FAME 2 are ongoing and we have sought feedback from the industry. This will go on for at least two more months but we will be ready with the new scheme by September," Geete said. "For FAME 1 we got only Rs 795 crore for 2 years. FAME 2 will get a much bigger corpus."

"The biggest success of Make in India programme is in the auto sector. It is one of the largest in the world that accounts for over 7.1 % of India's GDP and contributes nearly 22 % of India's manufacturing GDP," he added. "Already it has become a manufacturing base for all global car makers. Even though BS VI fuel is not available in the country right now, manufacturers are producing such vehicles in the country and exporting to other markets around the world."

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