BelRise Cancels $2.5 Billion Deal With Gogoro For Battery Swapping Infrastructure

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In January 2023, the two firms entered into a three-way memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra Government, pledging to invest Rs 20,406 crore in developing battery-swapping infrastructure.

Pune’s Belrise Industries, formerly known as Badwe Engineering, has decided to withdraw from its $2.5 billion commitment to develop a battery-swapping infrastructure. This decision affects the tripartite agreement formed with the Maharashtra government and Taiwanese company Gogoro. Initially, in January 2023, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, the three entities had agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create battery swapping and smart charging stations. These stations were intended to boost the use of electric vehicles, especially two-wheelers and three-wheelers, in the state.

The announcement of the MoU was marked as a significant moment by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, who described it as a historic step towards establishing the world’s largest green partnership of its kind.

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Ranjit Shelke, Belrise Industries’ Head of Corporate Strategy and Business Head for Electric Vehicles, recently revealed the company’s decision to step back from the battery-swapping initiative. This decision was influenced by the current lack of standardization in batteries and connectors, which hindered the interoperability among various operators, essential for maximizing the usage of the swapping stations. Shelke emphasized, however, that this decision would not impact Belrise’s manufacturing agreement with Gogoro for producing two-wheelers.

Gogoro responded to inquiries about this development, stating that the project with the Maharashtra government would proceed without Belrise’s involvement. The initial MoU was non-binding, and discussions between Horace Luke, Gogoro’s founder, and Shrikant Badve, founder of Belrise, about future collaborations are ongoing.

Despite Belrise’s withdrawal, Gogoro remains committed to its plans in India. The company, listed on Nasdaq, has announced its intentions to initiate its swapping network in Delhi and Goa and aims to extend it to Mumbai, Pune, and other parts of Maharashtra by the first half of 2024. Details about the number of stations planned for Maharashtra or across India have not been specified yet.

The industry’s response to the proposed battery-swapping policy, outlined by Niti Aayog and announced in the 2022 Union budget by Nirmala Sitharaman, has been mixed. Many Indian OEMs, battery manufacturers, and swapping players, except for Honda and Gogoro, have expressed concerns about the proposed interoperability standards, fearing the need to modify their existing infrastructure and prototypes.

Belrise’s decision to exit the battery-swapping sector was driven by the industry’s lukewarm response to the project. Meanwhile, Gogoro continues to discuss standardization and safety with the Indian Government, aligning its vision and technology with government feedback and policies.

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