Low quality imports harm India's LED market

With a population of over a billion people and with the government encouraging energy efficienct lighting, India would seem like a fertile market for LED bulbs – but low quality products from China and other countries are tarnishing the take-up.

So says the company that describes itself as India's largest lighting manufacturer, anyway.

'Customers have had a lot of bad experience because of poor Chinese imports,' Arun Gupta, managing director of NTL Electronics India, told Hyderabad-based financial newspaper Financial Chronicle

Noting that a high failure rate has caused slow adoption, Gupta called on the national Bureau of Indian Standards to establish LED (light emitting diode) specifications, which he said would encourage domestic production, much as happened previously with compact fluorescent lamps.

'Earlier, CFLs took that route and it helped curb sales of poor-quality goods,' he said. 'We should follow the same path on LEDs.'

Privately held NTL, based in the special economic zone city of Noida near Delhi, makes LED products in partnership with Holland's Lemnis Lighting. NTL also manufactures lighting controls, ballasts, transformers, compact fluorescents and other gear which helped support 7.5 billion rupees (£73 million) of revenue in its 2013-14 year, when LED sales were sluggish.

Rajesh Kocchar, president of TISVA, the lighting arm of Indian consumer goods giant Usha International, acknowledged that pricing is curtailing LED demand. 'An LED lamp now costs 500 rupees (about £5),' he said. 'The cost needs to go down by half to be affordable for the masses. LEDs will then achieve the expected growth in India.'

Market research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the Indian LED market will reach $1.2 billion in 2018, up from $143 million in 2012.  An LED bulb requires only about 20 percent of the electricity of an incandescent and thus represents great potential for saving power in a country that, for all its comparatively high (but slowing) growth rate, is wracked by electricity shortages.

In related news, NTL and Lemnis today appointed 32-year lighting industry veteran Manoj Verma as president and director of NTL Lemnis, the 2-year-old LED joint venture. Verma was CEO of Delhi-based Orient Electrics and has worked at Philips, GE Lighting and Osram.

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Photo: No, "NTL" does not stand for "now toughen LEDs" but it could, based on the company's belief that poor quality imports are undermining the market in India. Image of NTL headquarters is a screen grab from the NTL website.

 

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