Truck and bus maker Ashok Leyland has formed a technical alliance with Sun Mobility, promoted by Chetan Maini, Founder of Reva Electric Vehicle, and Uday Khemka, for producing and selling electric vehicles. The first electric bus as a result of the alliance will be rolled out in 12-18 months. About Rs. 100 crore of investment will be made jointly in the initial phase with a proto-type ready by January 2018. Though Ashok Leyland has come out with electric buses previously, this alliance will deliver a swappable smart battery solution, which has not been successful in other parts of the world. Vinod Dasari, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland is confident of making it work in India. The electric vehicle business model involves setting up stations with robots to swap batteries, and an IT network with the electric vehicles. Today, electric buses cost 4-5 more times more than diesel buses. Swappable batteries and robotic operations will bring down asset costs and man power requirements. “With our model, overall solutions will end up being cost competitive for the buyers,” said Maini. Sun Mobility is in the process of developing the IoT (internet of things)-enabled smart batteries for the electric vehicles. The battery cells will be imported and electronics and other components will be put together in its facilities, for which it is scouting for locations. The initial customers for these electric vehicles are expected to be STUs (state transport undertakings) with whom Ashok Leyland has already commenced discussion.