Electro mobility in transportation is rapidly spreading across the globe. Although India is currently at a nascent stage in this space, electric vehicles are finding continuous traction in the country.
Electro mobility is not a new concept, both globally and for India. The first electric tram service was started in Madras (now Chennai) in 1895. Electric trams were subsequently introduced in Kolkata (1900), Mumbai (1907), Kanpur (1907) and Delhi (1908). Although many European countries like Spain and France still have the modernised version of trams, plying in cities like Bilbao in Spain and Nice in France, their use has significantly declined, for reasons not fathomable. Instead, world over, the transportation was powered by Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), for the past many decades. Similarly, in India, no developments have taken place in this space. As a result, they are considered by the most as relics of the past. Today, it is a different matter as the same old wheel is being reinvented globally, by infusion of novel technologies and concepts.
New developments in electro mobility are not restricted to passenger cars or two-wheelers or buses alone. They extend to mass transport and even long distance haulage and trucking industry, in many developed countries. Most auto majors have announced plans to introduce electric vehicles coupled with connectivity and autonomous driving capabilities, during the next 3-5 years and have already begun showcasing concept vehicles in the auto shows, around the world.
Indian Government leads the way
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. The world has taken note of the discussions that India may be planning for a major shift to electric vehicles by 2030.
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 NEMMP 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 its sustainable growth, 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 years starting from April 1, 2015.
According to the information given by GM Siddeshwara, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in Parliament, many out of 10 companies are manufacturing battery-driven two-wheelers while few other players including Mahindra Reva and Toyota Kirloskar Motor are manufacturing electric/hybrid vehicles.
The vehicle manufacturers registered with the DHI are Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles, Electrotherm, Maruti Suzuki India, Hero Electric Vehicles, Toyata Kirloskar Motor, Lohia Auto Industries, Ampere Vehicles, Avon Cycles Ltd, Chris Motor and Ajanta Manufacturing. It may be noted that the electric vehicle market, especially in two-wheeler segment in India has been heating up in recent times following sky-rocketing price of petrol in the country.
Efficient, affordable and quick battery charging infrastructure across the board, in any country, is the single most critical success factor for electro mobility. Other factors like travel range per charge, lightweighting, large and more powerful batteries, quick charging time, safety features, connectivity, autonomous driving assistance and, above all, availability of affordable electric vehicles are all secondary, when discussed in relation to the infrastructure requirements. Therefore, all stakeholders like government, OEMs and customers, have to work together to make things happen.
Ayush Lohia, CEO, Lohia Auto Industries, confirms, “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 feels that these vehicles are meant for short distances. Technologies are fast evolving in this segment, particularly batteries. Cost of lithium-ion battery is 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.”
“The entire ecosystem that supports the usage of electric vehicles needs to be put in place. This can be effectively done with the support from the government to provide 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,” comments Nishant Arya, Executive Director, JBM Group.
Sanjay Puri, Founder, AutoNebula, defines the infrastructure requirements holistically by explaining, “There are four intrinsic parts of an EV connectivity infrastructure: Grid capacity; charging stations; battery and chassis swapping (in case of modular vehicles); and creation of a pervasive network of DC charging stations across countries who are pushing for EV adoption. Policy changes which allow tax breaks or financial incentives for EV adoption rather than traditional fuel vehicles will go a long way to make the EV adoption easier and more cost-effective.”
He goes on to say, “Local governments play a crucial role in creating and championing the infrastructure required for the EV connectivity. Electric utilities are perfectly positioned to manage the infrastructure needs and to accelerate understanding and acceptance of EV technology. Electric utility companies will be the other key pillar, who will have to work with OEMs, technology companies, and policy makers to make the cost of electricity even more affordable to increase the adoption of EVs. There have been initiatives to set up community charging stations, as in the case of Plug-in India facilitated charging stations. News reports indicate about plans to provide solar-powered charging points at the existing fuel stations of the country.”
Tech Trends and features in EV
High-end and disruptive technologies is the mainstay of developments in electro mobility. The major focus lies in the development of batteries and quick charging systems. Thereafter, the developers are introducing advanced design features like connectivity, infotainment, futuristic interiors and exteriors; safety systems, driver assistannce; energy conserving drivetrains, luxurious but conceptual comfort and many others to attract the potential buyers in their respective customer segments.
Puri explains, “Battery technology is the single-biggest disruptive trend that will reveal itself in the near future. There are OEMs and tech start-ups that are dedicated to bring in the larger capacity batteries. The cost of lithium-ion cells has dropped by 80 per cent over the last eight years. Lithium-ion cells powering the electric vehicles is a trend likely to stay with the EV market for a bit, given better cost reduction and performance equations.” He goes on to say, “Conventional electric double-layer capacitors are being worked upon to offer almost unlimited lifespan and no environmental issues in case of lithium-ion batteries. High-K electric double-layer capacitors, lithium-sulphur batteries, and sodium-ion batteries are other innovations that are being pursued towards the ‘super’ battery.”
“Other key trends, reported by Green Car reports are in increasing the range of the vehicles before a recharge or a switch is required – up to 200 miles is in the works. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is being said to be rated at 200 miles. That will force others like Nissan, BMW etc, to keep pace. For PHEV, it is slated to be 40-60 miles in the future,” Puri further adds.
From an OEM perspective, Puri mentions, “With significant advances made in 48-volt enhanced start-stop systems from a variety of suppliers, the era of the high-voltage mild hybrid has likely come to a close. A lot more OEMs will be seen adopting cheaper 48-volt enhanced 'micro hybrid' systems on a wide variety of models by 2020.
From the technology standpoint, Puri opines, “EVs should not be seen as standalone technology. It enables far more than an electricity-based engine. Technologies in the car and around it are going to be critical innovations in the coming years. Autonomous vehicle technology is the other key technology innovation which will bring in a huge advantage to the EV market. Auto pilot, Self-driving or Auto assist – we are seeing a marked focus in this area of start-ups as well as OEMs in the connected transport ecosystem, which AutoNebula is working towards shaping.” He adds, “Ridesharing, ride-hailing, and route planning are other critical ancillary technologies which are being developed as we speak. AutoNebula is mentoring and working with a few of these start-ups in India, recognising the need to tie up the eco-system of connected transport as a whole.”
“SAEFUEL is a pioneering technology in the field of EVs as well. We at SAEFUEL are working on AirFuel which would use air as fuel. That will be a disruptive technology like no other,” confirms Sachin Kumar, Co-founder, SAEFUEL.
Lohia says, “Vehicles with advance battery which will be new-generation batteries without lead such as lithium-ion and more similar types with enhanced life cycle. Adoption of fast charging system, use of additional solar energy and improvement in braking system by utilising deceleration energy will be part of the news developments.”
“Electric vehicles take prominence in terms of emission, fuel economy, maintenance and zero noise levels. JBM Solaris ECOLIFE Electric, India’s first 100 per cent electric bus, is exceptionally quiet, emission-free, distinguished by its modern design and guarantees low operational costs. ECOLIFE is a fully low-floor battery-powered green vehicle with state-of-the-art electric drive technology that ensures hassle-free and comfortable commute for the passengers. The bus stands out distinctly by virtue of its attractive exterior and interior styling, coupled with a series of innovative and cutting-edge design solutions. Offering a completely flexible solution, ECOLIFE offers the ability to adjust the charging system of the bus to an operator’s or city’s infrastructure making it a perfect with any urban environment. The different battery sizes and other customisations offered by JBM Solaris enable the bus’s range to be tailored to the requirements of virtually any route. This further optimises the purchase and operating cost of the vehicle and the number of people that can be carried. Other features that ECOLIFE offers are corrosion-resistant structure, cantilever seats that give extra leg room for passengers and increased storage space underneath, passenger information system (PIS), vehicle health monitoring system, electronic braking system, wheelchair ramp, and kneeling mechanism,” informs Arya.
He further adds, “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.”
"At AutoNebula, we are aligned and focused on creating a working ecosystem for a connected transport future. As we move along our journey of bringing together the ecosystem of connected transport, AutoNebula is mentoring and investing in entrepreneurs/start-ups and partnering with OEMs to bring about this connected transport of EVs closer to us," says Puri.
As Kumar rightly points out, “Electric vehicles are more equipped to be smart vehicles. Energy efficiency, driving comfort, and zero noise and air pollution are major features of EVs besides very less frequent service centre visits.”
Says Lohia, “Taking into account high level of environment pollution in fossil fuel in road transport, especially in high density urban centres, electric vehicles will be a contribution in reducing pollutants and fuel usage. The running cost is very low compare to fuel vehicles while maintenance cost is bare minimum.”
He adds, “As we all know that electric and alternative fuel vehicles are innovative and in demand for future. There is a huge potential for EVs in India in future. For last mile connectivity from bus stand, railway or Metro station, electric three-wheeler/rickshaw can be a cost-effective no-pollution solution for transportation. This will help to solve last mile connectivity problem and boost better connectivity.”
Arya explains, “In a scenario like India, where quality of air is ‘the issue’ at the moment, especially in the metros; adoption of electric vehicles has become indispensable, especially, with the growing number of vehicles on roads each day. Not only do these vehicles provide benefits connected to emission but also bring in a host of other features to the foray, such as, fuel economy, low maintenance; reduction in noise pollution levels, and low cost of ownership over the lifetime of the vehicle. For the user, electric vehicles are cheaper and guilt-free as they run at a fraction of the cost of traditional vehicle and have a zero carbon emission rate. For the country, addition of electric vehicles leads to reduction in carbon footprint, boosting India’s image as a responsible nation.” He adds, “Pollution being an increasingly serious health concern in the metropolis, it has become imperative to shift our mass public transport system from fossil fuel to non-fossil fuel. We are working towards providing a complete solution to this effect, keeping our activities in sync with the government’s efforts to facilitate this transition. The move has gained greater momentum with various other OEMs directing their synergies towards achieving this goal. The vision for tomorrow is towards providing green transportation system which is self-sustainable and realistic at the same time. We are aiming at achieving green and seamless connectivity for our future generations.”
Puri states, “An electric vehicle’s biggest attraction has been the ability of the vehicle to run on electricity (BEV) which makes it 100 per cent tailpipe emission-free. While gasoline-operated cars pollute the air each time they are driven, driving an electric car or electric vehicle promotes clean air. With rising gas prices at the pump, even those not as concerned about the environment are considering the purchase of a vehicle that costs less to fuel. An EV offers a higher efficiency by as much as 400-600 per cent over an internal combustion engine. It is about three times as efficient as gas engines, safer and more compact than traditional vehicles. Owing to the above, EVs get better mileage than any other car on the road. They are quieter to drive, convenient and durable. On the other side, we need to find solutions (technology and infrastructure) to the limited range EVs offer, long refuelling time, higher cost and limited consumer choices."
Kumar aptly puts, “Considering India which is one of the largest importers of petroleum, EVs could be a real hope for independence and self-reliance. All major Indian and global cities are suffering from pollution, where EV can be a real boon for people."
In India, the first mover in electro mobility was Reva, now part of Mahindra & Mahindra group. At the time of introducing the electric car developed and manufactured by the then Reva Electric Car Company Pvt Ltd in a joint venture with AEV LLC, California USA in 2001, it found only a limited traction in the country. However, today it is a completely different story.
Currently 10 Indian EV manufacturers are registered with the DHI and others are in the process.
Lohia states, “The revolution of electric vehicles has already started in India and we see a tremendous growth for EVs in India. Central and state governments are encouraging EVs and recognising that in future India don’t need to depend on fossil fuel imports and can leapfrog to EVs. We see a strong growth on the back of Central Government support in EV segment. By 2020, the Central Government plans to spend Rs 14,000 crore. Alongside, we see good demand for electric rickshaw as it is able to prove itself as only viable option for last mile connectivity. We see a tremendous opportunity as it is poised to replace pedal rickshaw and can be a solution for people transportation in last mile connectivity.”
Arya confirms, “With the evolution of technology in the dynamic auto industry, electric vehicles are all set to take precedence in the near future, be it for personal use, public transportation or commercial use. We have instances from the western world rapidly adopting usage of electric vehicles with the growing environmental concerns. All global auto majors have already initiated and directed their efforts towards development and testing of this technology for the Indian ecosystem. We have electric/hybrid cars, two-wheelers, LCVs and buses already operational on Indian roads and the trend is catching up at a tremendous pace, more because of the governments focus towards adoption of electric vehicles. India aims to be a 100 per cent EV nation by 2030, an ambitious plan recently laid out by the government. Requisite policy framework facilitating the achievement of this vision is currently underway. JBM in association with Solaris Bus, launched India’s 100 per cent electric bus – ECOLIFE – at the Auto Expo in February 2016. JBM Solaris aims to provide a holistic transport solution that addresses a whole range of challenges in the Indian public transportation domain, from the need for more sustainable transport, to the problem of air pollution in Indian cities, to the need for longer-lasting batteries.”
Puri says, “With impending liquid fuel crisis, environmental issues of traditional fuel emissions and the technology advancement in the EV sector has resulted in big strides for the EV industry. There is higher capacity, longer lasting better batteries along with faster charging options and proven prototypes of EVs as well as running EVs on the road today. Both a depleting resource perspective and the potential EV industry value chain provide a huge opportunity for the EV industry.
The market share of electric cars rose above one per cent in seven countries in 2015: Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the UK. Market share reached 23 per cent in Norway and nearly 10 per cent in the Netherlands. China’s booming electric car sales in 2015 made it the main market worldwide, before the US, for the first time. China is also home to the strongest global deployment of e-scooters and electric buses.
The 2015 year-on-year sales growth for electric cars also exceeded 75 per cent in India which is at par with countries like France, Germany, Korea, Norway, Sweden and the UK.
In India, definite strides are being taken. India unveiled NEMMP 2020 in 2013 to address the issues of national energy security, vehicular pollution and growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities. The world has taken note of the discussions that India may be planning for a major shift to electric vehicles by 2030.
If we look around the EV industry in India alone, today there are players growing in all categories of EVs (hybrid or electric cars), we have Mahindra (with Verito, e2o, Scorpio micro hybrid), Toyota, and BMW producing EV or hybrid EV models. We also have OEMs like Lohia, Hero Electric, TVS, BSA, BPG, and EKO who have vehicles in the electric motorcycle and scooter market. Also there are electric bicycles from Hulikkal Electro India, Ampere Vehicles, Ampere Vehicles, Electrotherm etc.
India’s first electric bus was launched in Bangalore in 2014. There are electric mini pick-up trucks from Mahindra, Tata Motors, Ace Electric, and Ashok Leyland.
E-rickshaw which is already a popular mode of transport in Delhi-NCR, particularly in small lanes and congested areas, got a boost in the arm with a Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill that was passed in 2015 allowing e-rickshaws as a valid form of commercial transport in India.
AutoNebula is partnering with some of the above key OEMs to progress the future of EVs in India.
Electro mobility is the future of 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 placed by the administrations, manufacturers and all other stakeholders, to enable the society benefit from the advantage of clean air.
There is a huge potential for electric vehicles in India in the near future.”
- Ayush Lohia,
CEO, Lohia Auto Industries
EV Concepts displayed at Paris Motor Show 2016
Rolls Royce Vision next 100 concept 103EX concept epitomises bespoke automotive luxury inclusive of electro mobility, connectivity and autonomous drive virtual assistant Eleanor.
BMW i is a comprehensive and ground-breaking concept for sustainable mobility. It represents visionary electric vehicles and mobility services, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability. It thrills with its innovative vehicles: the all-electric BMW i3, a locally emission-free car for city driving that is sustainably designed throughout, and the BMW i8 as the most progressive sports car.
Mercedes- Generation EQ, the new brand for electric mobility. The name EQ stands for “Electric Intelligence” and is derived from the Mercedes-Benz brand values of “Emotion and Intelligence”. The new brand encompasses all key aspects for customer-focused electric mobility and extends beyond the vehicle itself.
Tesla Model X is the safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history. With all-wheel drive and a 100 kWh battery providing 289 miles of range, it has ample seating for seven adults and all of their gear. Add to that it’s ludicrously fast, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in as quick as 2.9 sec. Model X is the SUV uncompromised.
Renault Trezor is the most stylish electric car. It is a fully autonomous, pure electric vehicle, that re-imagines the entire visual language for the car company.
The I.D. is the ambassador of the new Volkswagen product strategy that is based on four fields of innovation: Smart Sustainability; Automated Driving; Intuitive Usability; Connected community entity.
The government can be the largest buyer of electric vehicles and that will lead to economies of scale for the industry.”
- Nishant Arya,
EV: Problem areas
EVs AT A GLANCE
EVs can be broadly divided into Hybrids, BEVs and PHEV/PHV and the progressive FCEVs.
Conventional Hybrids – These EV’s combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor. While these vehicles have an electric motor and battery, they can’t be plugged in and recharged. Instead their batteries are charged from capturing energy when braking; using regenerative braking that converts kinetic energy into electricity.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have both an electric motor and internal combustion engine and different from Conventional Hybrids, PHEV batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet. PHEVs can substitute electricity from the grid for gasoline. Most PHEVs are passenger cars but there are also PHEV versions of commercial vehicles and vans, utility trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles and military vehicles.
Battery Electric Vehicles run exclusively on electricity via on-board batteries that are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station. BEV’s have no gasoline engine, longer electric driving ranges compared to PHEVs, and never produce tailpipe emissions
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV’s) use an electric-only motor like a BEV, but stores energy differently.
Instead of recharging a battery, FCEVs store hydrogen gas in a tank. The fuel cell in FCEVs combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. The electricity from the fuel cell then powers an electric motor, which powers the vehicle just like a BEV. There is no need to plug-in FCEVs, since their fuel cells are recharged by refilling with hydrogen, which can take as little as 5 minutes at a filling station.
EV’s are being developed with aBOX technology overview beyond the obvious. Technology within the car: communication, safety, stability, autopilot, self driving, personal devices, data analytics.
TOSA: A Breakthrough Technology by ABB
Trolleybus Optimisation Systeme 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-second 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 centre of diplomacy, financial hub and technology and innovation centre. 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 connect the bus to the charging point. The onboard batteries can then be charged in 15 seconds with a 600-kW boost of power at the bus stop. A further 4-5 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.
Challenges for sustainable mobility in cities
Urbanisation and increased mobility place particular demands on transport operators such as:
High capacity without overhead lines
According to the bus route, one flash-charging station is installed at every fourth or fifth stop. This technology reduces visual impact and noise emissions at the same time. Bus autonomy also offers higher flexibility in terms of itineraries. This makes TOSA an ideal solution for urban mass transport.
Comfort, safety and public health
The power transfer system is designed to ensure passenger comfort as well as health and safety. The direct-contact technology prevents electromagnetic field emissions associated with induction loop charging technologies.
Four partners, four key competencies to achieve sustainable mobility
ABB launched the new electric bus charging system TOSA together with Geneva city’s public transport operator TPG, the Office for promotion of Industries and Technologies OPI and the Geneva power utility SIG. TPG operates and maintains a fleet of hundreds of trolleybuses, buses and trams. For the new TOSA e-bus, they defined the operating conditions as fast charging time during stops, automation and priority to high capacity. SIG provided their power grid experience. OPI led the project management in line with the innovation and partners’ roles. ABB developed the concept, the on-board traction equipment and the new type of fully automatic and flash-charging system.
Thanks to re-charging along the route, the battery size and the weight of the bus have been reduced, resulting in increases in both spaces for passengers and energy-efficiency.
Electric utilities are perfectly positioned to manage the infrastructure needs and to accelerate understanding and acceptance of EV technology.”
- Sanjay Puri,
Electric vehicle has the opportunity to become the main transport medium for human travel.”
- Sachin Kumar,