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India’s rapid take-up of electric vehicles prompts rethink about long-term fuel needs

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India's rapid take-up of electric vehicles prompts rethink about long-term fuel needs

The rapid take-up of electric vehicles in India’s fledgling market has prompted a major rethink about the country’s long-term fuel needs as refiners in Asia’s third-largest economy hasten their shift away from oil production.

India, one of the world’s fastest-growing oil markets, has lagged behind major economic peers in Europe and Asia in the adoption of EVs but sales are now picking up and investment in the production of new autos and energy infrastructure is accelerating.

The faster-than-anticipated industry growth means India’s gasoline consumption will peak sooner than previously thought, some analysts and industry participants say, forcing top oil firms to expedite transition plans to alternative business lines, notably increased petrochemical manufacturing.

“We were anticipating that peak gasoline demand will be around 2040-2045 earlier, but going by the trend and the speed with which we are developing the ecosystem around EVs, the peak demand would be the mid-2030s,” Debasish Mishra, Partner, energy, resources and industrials, Deloitte India told Reuters. He expects diesel demand to peak around the same time as petrol.

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Slowing fuel demand will be quite visible by around 2030 as EV technologies stabilise, compared with an earlier projection of the 2040s, an industry source at an India-based refinery told Reuters, adding that the heavy trucking sector will see changes a little later.

“Refiners are already investing in petrochemical integration to cope with the potential loss in fuel demand,” said the source who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Currently, around 90% of Indian petrochemical demand is met by China, he said, so a shift by Indian refiners towards domestic chemical needs could dramatically change supply dynamics.

Indian refiners are investing billions of dollars to raise petrochemical capacity. Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), the country’s top refiner, is raising the petrochemical capacity at its Panipat refinery by 13% and building new plants linked to its Paradip and Gujarat refineries.

Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS), operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, plans to invest 750 billion rupees ($9.38 billion) to expand its chemical business, while Essar Group plans to set up a 400 billion rupee petrochemical complex in east India.

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Nayara Energy (ESRO.M3) expects 15-20 new integrated petrochemical plants will start in the next decade.

EVs, TRUCKS

China currently dominates global EV production and domestic adoption of new energy vehicles is well advanced. The China Passenger Car Association expects sales of new energy cars, mainly EVs, to hit 8.5 million units this year, or 36% of all new sales.

Despite new momentum in India, the question for the country is whether it will be enough to ultimately shake its fossil fuel dependency.
“Limited charging infrastructure, low domestic EV production and high EV battery costs remain some of the key hurdles in maintaining strong EV uptake in the long run,” said Dylan Sim, oil market analyst at FGE.

India’s progress is modest by global comparisons, however, last year registered EVs tripled to 1.01 million from 2021, most of them two- and three-wheelers.

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While EVs make up just 1% of the 3 million cars sold each year, New Delhi wants to grow this to 30% by 2030 and has introduced a range of policies to get there, including tax breaks for consumers.

India’s state refiners, which dominate fuel retailers, plan to set up EV charging facilities at more than 22,000 fuel stations and highways by 2024.

The private sector is also providing EV bulls hope.

Gurugram-headquartered ride-hailing service Blusmart, which owns a fleet of 3,000 EVs, has seen brisk growth.

Its co-founder Punit Goyal told Reuters it now provides 500,000 monthly trips, up from about 35,000 when it started in 2019.

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Local automakers like Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra have made big investments while foreign players like Kia and BYD have announced premium models for the Indian market.

About 40% of India’s fuel demand is for diesel, which is mostly used by trucks.
Chetan Maini, chairman of Sun Mobility, which provides electric mobility solutions, said India’s smaller trucks, including three-wheelers, are likely to be early adopters in the transition given the cost advantage for e-commerce and delivery firms.

His company currently has 80 battery swapping stations in Delhi for two- and three-wheelers and plans to set up 200 by March.

“A large opportunity by 2030 is going to be on the trucking side because the cost economics will work out really well,” Maini said.

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Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

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Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

Apple Inc will look into the possibility of building a manufacturing facility in Indonesia, its CEO said on Wednesday after meeting President Joko Widodo.

Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday, after visiting Vietnam. He met with Jokowi, as the president popularly known, and will be inaugurating an academy for Apple developers on the island of Bali.

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country, and it is something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after the meeting. 

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches in Vietnam and suppliers for MacBooks are also investing in the country.

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Apple has no manufacturing facilities in Indonesia but has established four Apple Developer Academies.

Indonesia has a huge tech-savvy population, making the Southeast Asian nation a key target market for tech-related investment.

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TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

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TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

ByteDance’s TikTok has been given 24 hours to provide a risk assessment on its new app TikTok Lite launched this month in France and Spain on concerns of its potential impact on children and users’ mental health, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The move by EU industry chief Thierry Breton under EU tech rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) comes two months after he opened an investigation into TikTok over possible DSA breaches. 

The landmark DSA requires companies to do more to tackle illegal and harmful content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of their global annual turnover for violations.

The Commission on Wednesday said it had sent a request for information to TikTok, asking for more details on the risk assessment the social media company should have done before deploying TikTok Lite in the 27-country European Union.

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“This concerns the potential impact of the new ‘Task and Reward Lite’ programme on the protection of minors, as well as on the mental health of users, in particular in relation to the potential stimulation of addictive behaviour,” the EU executive said in a document seen by Reuters.

“TikTok must provide the risk assessment for TikTok Lite in 24 hours and the other requested information by 26 April 2024, after which the Commission will analyse TikTok’s reply, and then assess next steps.”

The Commission also asked for details on measures the company has put in place to mitigate systemic risks.

TikTok Lite, an app with a new functionality aimed at users aged 18+, was launched in France and Spain this month.

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SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

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SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

SiTime (SITM.O) on Wednesday introduced a chip that it says is designed to help data centers built for artificial intelligence applications run more efficiently.

SiTime makes what are known as timing chips, whose job is set a steady beat for all the parts of a computer and keep them running together in sync, like a conductor in an orchestra directing multiple groups of instruments. The company says its new line of chips, called Chorus, can do so with 10 times more precision than older styles of timing chips.

SiTime CEO Rajesh Vashist said the company aims to help customers save electricity with that precision. SiTime’s chips themselves require less than a watt of power, but powerful AI chips such as Nvidia’s (NVDA.O) require more than 1,000 watts of power.

With a more precise clock to keep all the elements of a computer in sync, parts of the machine can be turned off for a few milliseconds at a time when they are not in use. Over the multiple years a power-hungry data center server might be in use, it can generate energy savings, though the amount will depend on how SiTime’s chips are used.

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“We deliver timing that they can rely on so that they can wake up their products and bring data more efficiently to them, rather than just running more often,” Vashist said in an interview.

SiTime said the chips will be available in the second half of this year.

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