Pepper Motion to build electric trucks and buses in India

The news previously broke on social media, and Indian papers reported that Andhra Pradesh had approved an investment by Pepper Motion totalling 46.4 billion rupees (around 525 million euros) to build an industrial complex in the city of Punganur, expected to create about 8,000 jobs. The Times of India at the time saw Pepper Motion converting and assembling electric buses, trucks, and corresponding battery packs.

Pepper Motion confirmed today’s news and detailed battery production of up to 20 GWh. The vehicles made in India will utilise battery electric drives and Pepper’s fuel cell-based drive system, which it recently launched in an initial small series. There are plans to develop and offer a corresponding charging infrastructure with other technology partners such as Chargebyte.

The investment project, including all planned expansion stages, has a total volume of around 600 million US dollars, which aligns with previously reported numbers.

As for the timeline, Pepper plans to commission the plant in 2025 at the earliest. The company targets to produce more than 50,000 electric buses and trucks per year from 2027 and to market components for the electric drive of commercial vehicles internationally.

Andra Pradesh is on the east coast of India and has a population of over 49 million. The Telangana region was separated as an independent state in 2014, meaning Andra Pradesh lost 40 per cent of its area and the capital, Hyderabad. Pungapur, where Pepper Motion will reportedly be based, is located in the state’s southwest – around 100 kilometres east of Bangalore, Karnataka.

“The existing port and industrial infrastructure and the innovation-driven, progressive economic policies of the state of Andhra Pradesh offer us excellent opportunities, and we are especially grateful to Hon’ble Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for his great commitment and trust in pepper”, said Andreas Hager, Managing Director and CEO of Pepper Motion GmbH.

The decision follows the approval of Pepper’s investment by the Andhra Pradesh State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB). The official presentation of the investment permit for constructing the production facilities in Andhra Pradesh is set at the end of November 2023.

For Pepper Motion, the move abroad is part of ongoing changes in strategy. After shifting focus from German public transport to customers abroad and lorry orders in May, Pepper reportedly is discontinuing its end-customer business to become a pure technology supplier for manufacturers, retrofitters and unique vehicle builders.

This may suit the Indian market with many (semi) state-owned companies. In today’s news, Pepper refers to India’s strategy towards zero-emission commercial vehicle transportation as a “great opportunity to successfully establish itself as a leading technology supplier in the Indian market”. The company adds, “Interest from Indian state transport corporations, private fleet operators and the commercial vehicle industry including e-Commerce, supply chain and courier companies for electrifying their fleets has been very high in discussions with Pepper as the technology leader for universal electric drive systems.”

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