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Second Coming: India's JSW Group in talks with Chinese company for an EV foray

JSW Group is giving EVs another shot. Image: Shutterstock

JSW Group, India's $23 billion steel-to-paints conglomerate, has held early talks with China's Leapmotor to license the company's electric vehicle technology, Reuters reports, citing multiple persons familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the proposed agreement, the Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group would receive a technology licence and use Leapmotor's platform to manufacture EVs in India. Leapmotor would likely engineer the cars for JSW, but the Indian company will sell the vehicles under its own brand name, the sources said. Sources said the company was looking at mid-size sports utility vehicles (SUVs), while other media reports indicated the company has looking at SUVs in the ₹15-20 lakh zone. 

"JSW wants to sell cars under its own brand for which they need the technology more than an investment or joint venture in an existing carmaker," Reuters quoted one of the sources as saying.

Leapmotor unveiled a new vehicle platform, called the Four-Leaf Clover architecture, in July and said it could license the same to other companies. At that time, CEO Zhu Jiangming told reporters the company was in advanced talks with two foreign manufacturers, with the possibility of rebadged Leapmotor models being sold overseas.

Volkswagen has also reportedly shown interest in the Chinese EV maker's new platform, which contains integrated computing to control autonomous driving and offers smart cockpit capability.

This would be JSW Group's second attempt to foray into the EV business. The group had announced its intention to foray into the EV sector in 2016. Then, it had targeted to launch vehicles by 2020 while also using its JSW Energy venture to foray into energy storage and EV charging infrastructure.

The company had even committed ₹3,500-4,000 crore for three years to the foray, with JSW Energy's Joint MD and CEO Prashant Jain quoted as saying the company would start with around 60 percent localization in India and was "considering and evaluating opportunities for setting up a manufacturing facility" in several states. 

Further, Mint recently reported that JSW is in advanced talks to acquire Ford India's now defunct Chennai car manufacturing facility to aid its planned foray into the EV space. 

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