The Punjab Government is in talks with Japan to launch Electric Vehicle (EV) buses based on the Japanese model of state-of-the-art quick charge Lithium-ion batteries. The first phase will begin with a pilot run for five buses on the Chandigarh-Patiala route.
The government will take forward the discussions on the Japanese EV Corridor during the forthcoming Progressive Punjab Investors Summit 2019, in which Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), a Japanese government-related organization, is partnering for the country session. JETRO promotes mutually beneficial trade and investment between Japanese organizations and other countries.
A delegation led by the Japanese Ambassador to India will attend the summit, which will also see participation from key stakeholders from Mitsui, SML Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and Yanmar, according to Vini Mahajan, Additional Chief Secretary, Investment Promotion and Addl CS, Industries & Commerce, Government. of Punjab.
Punjab is also pursuing a Centre of Excellence in Advanced and emerging technologies (i.e AI/IoT) with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT), India envisaged under the umbrella MOU between METI, Japan and MEIT, India, said Vini.
Taking advantage of the favourable industrial and investment climate in the state, and the ease of business promoted by the new industrial policy of the Captain Amarinder Singh government, Japan has undertaken significant investment in the state in recent months, particularly in the Automobile sector.
Earlier in August, Ludhiana-based Vardhman Special Steels Ltd. received a capital infusion of approximately INR 500 million from Japan’s Aichi Steel Corp, which acquired an 11.4 percent stake in the Indian Steel major. Vardhman’s Ludhiana plant will supply special steel components to Toyota’s Chennai plant for manufacturing Toyota Automobiles. They will develop special steel grades for automotive companies in India to help fill the gap of providing substitution of steel that is currently being imported.
In September 2018, Sumitomo Corp., which holds over 50% stake in SML ISUZU, invested INR 200 crore in technology, product development and expanding production capacity to 25,000 units per shift from 15,000 units at its Nawanshahar plant in Punjab.
Other Japanese companies that have invested in Punjab’s Automobile industry are Yanmar Holding, which owns over 20% stake in International Tractors Limited (commonly known as Sonalika), the biggest tractor manufacturers in the country. They are now planning to launch new hybrid Tractors in India - Micro Hybrid, Mild Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid (three variants).
Further, New Swan Technologies, a leading Punjab-based manufacturer of fine blank, metal sheet parts, and sub-assemblies, has entered into a technology collaboration with Gunma Seiko for manufacturing of precision Cold forging components for Automotive & General industry.
In other investments, Toppan Printing, which has a minority stake of 49% in Max Specialty Films, invested INR 250 cr to almost double their capacity at the Ropar unit from 46.35KTP to 80.85 KTP. The plant supports the manufacturing of packaging focused on environment-friendly usage of plastic.
In late 2019, Kansai Nerolac Paints, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kansai Paint Company Ltd, Japan started commercial operation at their new state-of-the-art plant in Punjab located at Goindwal Sahib near Amritsar. It has a capacity of 38,000 MT per year, which is expandable in phases, at an estimated cost of INR 180 CR.
The association between Punjab and Japan is now expanding into other areas also, with Lovely Professional University opening a Japanese Language Training institute at their campus in Phagwara.
The importance of Japan in Punjab’s investment plans can be gauged from the fact that Capt. Amarinder Singh had interacted with the earlier Ambassador of Japan Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu on multiple occasions in Delhi and Chandigarh to discuss new partnerships aided by the strong industrial ecosystem and positive investment scenario in the State.
Punjab is a renowned manufacturing hub of auto, bicycles and related components with many units in Ludhiana and Jalandhar clusters. The inherent strength of its economy is also playing a vital role in securing investments from both domestic and international players, said Vini, pointing out that, bucking the national trend, the primary sector in Punjab grew at 10.31 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18, against an India average of 7.20 percent. The estimated growth from 2017-18 to 2018-19 is 6.09 percent while that for India is 5.45 percent. The `Make in Punjab’ initiative focus has also translated into significant performance for the Manufacturing sector, which has grown by 8.71 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18 and is estimated to have grown by 9.2 percent from 2017-18 to 2018-19.