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Eye on EV revolution, lube seller Gulf Oil seeks to make batteries

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on June 06, 2018

Ravi Chawla, Managing Director, Gulf Oil Lubricants   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Lubricants maker Gulf Oil Lubricants India said it could look at manufacturing two-wheeler batteries in India, a business it ventured into two years ago.

The Mumbai-listed company sells batteries under the brand name Gulf Pride.

“The battery business makes more sense now. With electric vehicles coming, we need more batteries. Currently, we are importing the batteries from a manufacturer who makes them globally for BMW. Later on, we might look at manufacturing batteries in India,” Ravi Chawla, Managing Director of Gulf Oil Lubricants, told BusinessLine in an interview.

“We are focussing on two-wheeler batteries because that is the least hassle-free segment. In two-wheelers, we find a large gap between demand and supply of quality batteries. We are going to invest in that and look at how we can increase our market share further in the battery business,”

Conversion rates

The lubricant market in India is growing at 2-3 per cent annually. “This will go on for the next 15 years, even at the conversion rates of vehicles anticipated by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). But, after that, there could be a slight slowdown with huge challenges in converting to electric vehicles,” said Chawla.

“Building a realistic view point, for 15-20 years, we don’t see any impact, but we need to be ready because if electric vehicles come in a big way, engine oils, which are 40 per cent of the market, will come to zero. Because, engines will not require oil. So, we’ll have to calibrate our strategy, but at the moment, we don’t see any threat,” he said.

The Indian lubricant market, the world’s third-largest, is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion, at about 2,500 million litres.

“Out of that, we will be having hardly 3 per cent. But if you take the markets we play in, for instance, the bazaar market, we have close to 8 per cent market share with 16 players,” Chawla said.

Earlier this year, Gulf Oil opened a new lubricant plant at Ennore near Chennai with an investment of ₹200 crore to add to the blending plant it runs at Silvassa. “This will take care of our growth for the next 3-4 years,” Chawla said adding that the company will augment its product portfolio by launching a new range of greases.

Published on June 06, 2018

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