Zero tailpipe emission is on a fast track for urban public transport, heralding the era of Electric Buses in India.
Urban public transport buses have traditionally been powered by diesel engines, spewing enormous pollution from their tailpipes. Ramifications to ecology are obvious and India has started to change the situation by adopting Electric Buses for urban transport, in many progressive minded cities.
Although, electric buses in the form of trams existed in India since 1874 in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, they lost traction due to some unforeseen reasons fuelled by the vestiges of modern developments. This time around, the updated modern electric buses have been in existence since 2009. Initially, these buses were limited to mini versions with a size of 8-10 meters; however, with continuous advancements in technology in battery, heavier and longer electric buses of 12-meter size have been developed, which are being operated in many countries across the globe. The global electric bus market will grow at a CAGR of 26.77 per cent during the period 2016-2020.
The adoption of electric buses has recently gained momentum around the world, especially in China, US and even India. Electric buses were first adopted in the emerging APAC region, followed by the Americas and the EMEA region in 2013. Another major factor leading to the adoption of electric buses is that these buses can provide better comfort to the passengers.
During the Auto Expo 2016, most domestic bus manufacturers had showcased a wide range of electric buses for consumption in the domestic markets. Some of the notables were Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Volvo, Scania, VECV, DICV and even JBM Group. During the year the revolution began with many cities placing pilot orders on selected manufacturers for Electric Buses and the trend is spreading rapidly.
Electric buses are widely considered to be the mode of public transportation of the future. They are expected to not only facilitate reduced air pollution and noise pollution but also offer improved overall performance. The improved drive quality and power have led to their early adoption in China and the US. These electric buses have become extremely popular in cities such as San Francisco and Shanghai, and are expected to increase their presence in many other countries in the coming years. The lack of infrastructure and limited knowledge of the benefits offered by these buses has led to a minimal response toward electric buses in other countries across the globe.
Talking about the market segment, Nishant Arya, Executive Director, JBM Group says, "JBM has three segments where one visualise early traction for Electric Buses which are State transport authorities, Government business institutions, schools & colleges."
There are different opinions about the maximum mileage these buses are expected to cover on a single charge from different industry players, some say it is 350 miles per charge, some say it is 315 miles per charge. While commenting on the same, Arya says, "150 kms-200 kms per day depending on geographical and traffic conditions."
One hurdle for electric vehicles can be the need for charging infrastructure. For public buses, however, there is no need for extensive charging stations because the vehicles drive along defined routes. They are also usually parked overnight, so the long charge times.
While counting on the charging time, ABBs' TOSA has left every Electric Bus behind. The TOSA e-bus take 15 seconds flash charging time. The flash-charging technology feeds the onboard batteries for 15 seconds as passengers are getting on and off the bus. The bus wastes no time and is ready to leave.
T Venkataraman, Senior Vice President, Global Buses, Ashok Leyland Limited informs that the company has forayed in to the space of electric bus: Circuit which has found early adaptors in many city transport corporations and fast gaining traction in this market.
Major concerns of the users like weight of the storage battery, travel distance per charge, recharging time, energy management systems, energy regeneration systems adaptability to various driving and climatic conditions are the primary drivers for the development of most emerging technologies for electric buses and electric vehicles as well.
Arya shares, “Long life lithium-ion batteries coupled with fast charging solutions (plug-in/pantograph) are making electric vehicles increasingly feasible for everyday usage across various applications. For JBM, in the case of our electric bus ECOLIFE, the technology is adaptable to the city bus operation depending on demographic and geographic conditions. JBM Solaris offers two different charging solutions for ECOLIFE. These allow the bus to be adapted to the infrastructure that operators have or may install. The first solution is a plug-in connection wherein energy can be supplied through external chargers. Secondly, charging of the vehicle can also be done through on-board pantograph that is installed on the roof of the bus.”
Efficient, affordable and quick battery charging infrastructure across the board, in any country, is the single most critical success factor for Electric Buses. Other factors like travel range per charge, light weighting, large and more powerful batteries, quick charging time, safety features, connectivity, autonomous driving assistance are all secondary things when compared to the infrastructure.
Arya shares, “The entire ecosystems that supports usage of electric vehicles needs to be put in place. This can be effectively done with the support from the government to provision adequate infrastructure in the form of charging stations. These charging points can be in the form of pantograph or plug-in charging. Incentive programmes to bring down the cost of electric vehicles needs to be also introduced to encourage consumer adoption towards the technology. The government can be the largest buyer of electric vehicles and that will lead to economies of scale for the industry. This will, in turn, also lead to setting up of charging stations across the country.”
Charging infrastructure is the biggest challenge for electric vehicles apart for creating awareness and spreading benefits for these vehicles over conventional vehicles. Electric vehicles are almost 1.5 times of gasoline vehicles and State government levies like VAT, RTO etc nullify the benefit of central government subsidy, Consumers Awareness and benefit of electric vehicles are still not known, Government has to create fast Charging Infrastructure to promote these vehicles as consumer still feel that these vehicles are meant for short distances. Technologies is fast evolving in this segment particularly batteries. Lithium ion battery cost still a challenge for electric vehicles as they are not manufactured in India. Also electric vehicles are incomparable to equivalent vehicles, unless supported from outside.
Government of India leads the way forward
India unveiled 'National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020' in 2013 to address the issues of National energy security, vehicular pollution and growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities. In a bid to boost domestic manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles, the union government had approved the National Mission on Electric Mobility in 2011 and subsequently unveiled National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 in 2013.
A Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Parliament in 2015, which established battery-powered e-Rickshaws, as a valid form of commercial transport in India. With their small size and small turning radius, E-rickshaw is already a popular mode of transport in Delhi-NCR, particularly in small lanes and congested areas.
To encourage hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturing and ensure sustainable growth of the same, Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) has introduced a scheme – FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) for the initial period of two year starting from April 1, 2015.
Future: Electric Buses
Electric vehicles are the future for the world. India is taking long and rapid strides, in all related aspects, to maintain pace with global developments. The extent of work to be done to adopt this emission free mode of transportation is mind boggling. However, the building blocks to achieve the final objective are being place by the administrations, manufacturers and all other stakeholders, to enable the society benefit from the advantage of clean air.
Arya says, "India aims to be a 100 per cent electric vehicle nation by 2030, an ambitious plan recently laid out by the government. Requisite policy framework facilitating achievement of this vision is currently underway. We already have hybrid vehicles running on Indian roads and have also recently witnessed introduction of electric vehicles by various OEMs. The Indian market has already started gaining momentum in this direction and I am sure that with due support from the government, the Indian market should reflect encouraging growth by the year 2020, well on its way to achieve the 2030 target.
Vehicle health monitoring system
“The entire ecosystems that support usage of electric vehicles need to be put in place. This can be effectively done with the support from the government.”
-Nishant Arya,Executive Director,JBM Group
“Ashok Leyland has forayed in to the space of electric bus: Circuit which has found early adaptors in many city transport corporations and fast gaining traction in this market.”
-T Venkataraman,Senior Vice President,Global Buses,Ashok Leyland Limited
Feature on TOSA from APF Nov’16
TOSA: breakthrough technology by ABB, for flash charging 600 KW batteries, in 15 seconds!
Trolleybus Optimisation Syteme Alimentation (TOSA) by ABB is an operational TOSA e-bus with 15-second flash charging technology connecting the city to the airport at Geneva, Switzerland.
This Zero emission mass transit solution, provides a working model for future urban transportation and maybe long distance intercity logistics.
The fully electric bus TOSA looks like a regular trolleybus, except when you look on the roof. Instead of the usual trolley poles to overhead lines, this e-bus has a controlled moving arm that connects, in less than a second, to an overhead receptacle integrated into the bus shelter. The flash-charging technology feeds the onboard batteries for 15 seconds as passengers are getting on and off the bus. The bus wastes no time and is ready to leave.
Catenary-free operation and 15-sec ond charging time at selected bus stops offers solutions for revolutionary, silent, flexible and zero-emissions urban mass transportation.
Geneva is one of the world’s leading cities, recognised as a global center of diplomacy, financial hub and technology and innovation center. It’s a popular tourist destination with a high quality of life. It hosts the highest number of international organisations in the world, including global headquarters of institutions like the United Nations and the Red Cross.
World’s fastest connection technology
With the world’s fastest flash-charging connection technology it takes less than one second to con nect the bus to the charging point. The onboard batteries can then be charged in 15 seconds with a 600-kilowatts boost of power at the bus stop. A further 4 to 5 minute charge at the terminus at the end of the line enables a full recharge of the batteries. The innovative technology was developed by ABB engineers in Switzerland.
Features of Ashok Leyland Circuit