Kalyani Powertrain Ltd (KPTL), the electric mobility arm of Bharat Forge Ltd, is setting up what the company calls a “re-powering factory” at Pune for retrofitment of existing diesel-powered commercial vehicles into electric vehicles.

Retrofitting is the replacement of the combustion powertrain in a vehicle with an electric driveline. This conversion method is being extensively used in Europe to convert diesel trucks and buses into zero-emission vehicles.

KPTL is preparing to launch the repowering micro-factory as it seeks to electrify old trucks, a big opportunity given the Indian government’s mandate for old vehicle scrappage.

“We have received all certifications and completed mileage goals on test vehicles for this business. As a part of the controlled launch, KPTL has initiated a pilot programme with select customers,” B N Kalyani, Chairman & Managing Director of ₹12,910 crore (consolidated) Bharat Forge said in the Company’s latest annual report.

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KPTL will be focusing on ICE ICVs (intermedia commercial vehicles) for conversion into EVs. It has become the first company to secure AIS 123 (EV retro-fitment) certification for the N3 category in India.

In line with this, the company has completed the capex for setting up a CV Re-Powering plant at Chakan, Pune with a capacity of retrofitting 1,000 units per annum.

“KPTL already has two vehicle platforms and three model variants ready for field deployment. The company can provide retrofit solutions for CVs up to 12 tonnes. The Management is most excited about this category as it sees huge interest from customers across logistics businesses for EV retro fitment solutions,” according to auto analysts at HDFC Securities Ltd.

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According to industry analysts, the EV retro fitment market is in its nascent stage in India and faces some challenges. However, with some favourable policy initiatives, EV retro fitment market can grow significantly. With the huge scale of EVs needed to meet zero emission goals, retro fitment is seen as an alternative in addition to manufacturing new EVs.

Meanwhile, KPTL’s factory at Chakan for the manufacturing of e-motors, battery packs, and bike assemblies for e-2Ws and 3Ws is expected to commence production in the first quarter of the current fiscal. This facility will run at a production capacity of 60,000 to 1 lakh units per year.

Tork Motors, a subsidiary of Bharat Forge focused on electric motorcycles, booked close to 1,000 e-bikes in FY23. It targets to attract customers in the 150-200cc segment.

“The e-bike plant began production in April this year and they target to ramp up production to 1,500-1,800 bikes per month soon and then ramp up further, based on demand requirements. The company’s electric bike is made in India (except the battery) and hence meets all localisation norms as set out by the Government,” said the analysts.