India’s Flirtations with Electric Vehicles

indiaSPHERE
indiaSPHERE

After years of work and experimentation, the first commercially viable electric motorcycle from India has been made available. Made by the start up Ampere, the electric bike is one design that many Indians, especially in the rural areas, have purchased for their daily needs.

The electric motorcycle is not sleek and shiny designed for the urban setting but it is a heavy converted Chinese bicycle that has a top speed of fifteen miles per hour and it is a workhorse when it comes to heavy loads. Named the Angel, its main customer base are farmers and tradespersons and it is lauded for its low cost, about U.S. $386. The motorcycle is able to withstand great stress workload and is powered by free electricity available in the southern countryside of Tamil Nadu.

Unfortunately, a recent power shortage hit the agricultural state forcing the government to ration electricity. This tremendously affected the sales of the bikes, up from 600 a month to just 60 bikes.

This is just a microcosm of the worsening power issues that affect the sub-Continent. Since the electric vehicle market is still in its infancy, the continued power crisis would affect the bottom line for individuals who are worried they would not be able to fully charge their batteries with the rationed power.

In the macro sense, the power crisis is affecting the whole of India and has been pinpointed to the mismanagement of a specific power grid, causing massive blackouts affecting 600 million individuals for two whole days. This though is part of a recurring problem that many Indians have grown accustomed to, nicknaming them as ‘power cuts’.

The shadow of rolling blackouts has affected not just start ups like Ampere, but also established players such as Hero Electric. Hero Electric is one of the biggest producers of two wheeled electric vehicles in the country and their bottom line has been tremendously affected with the flickering of the power grid.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Hero Electric, “We have discovered that in the last six months our sales have dropped to only fifteen percent of what it was in Tamil Nadu. Because there is nothing in sight, no resolution in the next few months, the sentiment is really subdued and the dealerships are closing one by one.”

It is hoped that the future of electric vehicle revolution bodes well for India. The central government has promised U.S. $4.13 billion stimulus program, with subsidies with the objective of having six (6) million electric vehicles on Indian roads by 2020. A previous program to subsidize electric cars back in 2010 was prematurely stopped when funds dried up and this program now can only be hoped to work.

India Approves Hybrid Vehicle Promotion Plan

electricCARlogo
electricCARlogo

The Indian government approved a plan to promote environmentally friendly electric and hybrid vehicles. The packaged cost would amount to Rs 23,000 or or U.S. $4 billion and would run for a period of eight (8) years.

The plan was announced by Mr. Vikram Gulati, a current director at the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises. He said, “The first meeting of the National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) has adopted the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 or the NEMMP 2020. The NEMMP is a vision document that envisages promotion of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country in the next eight years. NEMMP 2020 objectives are meant to be achieved by state help that includes provisions for setting up of manufacturing units, acquisition of technologies, setting up of infrastructure and demand creation.”

The budget of between Rs 20,000 to 23,000 crore has been earmarked for the operationalization of NEMMP 2020 and a major component of this budget would come from private investors and groups.

The document projects the entry of about 70 lakh electric and/or hybrid vehicles such as passenger cars, two and three wheeled vehicles, as well as trucks and other heavy duty transport platforms. The current automobile market in India stands at seventeen million units annually, with electric and hybrid vehicles comprising less than one percent of the total vehicle population. It is projected that the cost savings in lowering fossil fuel demand would be triple the amount invested in the eight year long plan.

Other aspects of the plan include close governmental and industrial collaboration in rolling out projects and the inclusion of the project under the Automotive Mission Plan 2016, which is the national scheme for the expansion of electric mobility throughout India. Plan specifics include the production of six million green vehicles by 2020, with nearly eighty five percent are expected to be two wheeled vehicles.

Gulati related that the ministry would soon be finalizing specific projects under the general NEMMP 2020 plan that would then be forwarded to the government for final approval. He added, “The vision document will now be converted into schemes and will be sent for final government approvals. We expect the process to take a minimum of three to six months.”

Major passenger car manufacturers such as Maruti Suzuki, Tata, Hyundai, General Motors, Toyota Kirloskar and Mahindra are already in deep work to create electric and hybrid technology based transport platforms. Also participating are two wheel vehicle manufacturers such as Hero Moto Corp and TVS Motor, the latter having showcased their hybrid scooter models in the last Delhi Auto Expo held earlier this 2012.

Hyundai Launches Own Brand of Electric Vehicle in India

HyundaiChennai
HyundaiChennai

India is emerging as a dominant force in the global economy. The technological advances made by the country have benefited many countries all over the world. However the cost of economic development has also affected the air quality of the developing nation.

Considered as a breakthrough in the alternative fuel vehicle products, the zero-emission urban commuters’ vehicle ushers in a new era of mobility in the Indian market. The spread of clean air alternative vehicles in the country could help limit the spread of air pollution.

Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL), the country’s largest car exporter and second largest car manufacturer, unveiled the electric version of their immensely popular compact car - i10 at Auto Expo 2010 in New Delhi recently.

The i10 Electric car made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009. Slated for a limited series production run in 2010 in the home market of Hyundai in South Korea, the all-new i10 Electric is an embodiment of Hyundai’s radical and transformative vision for the future and is the culmination of decades of investment in research and development.

HMIL said that, “A growing awareness among consumers for all things green inspired us to introduce the electric version of our immensely popular compact care i10. It is truly a real-world car with zero emissions and the unveiling today marks the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey for people all over the world, for Hyundai and for the industry. We hope that the heightened interest in electric vehicles will present us with a huge opportunity to bring in EV technology to the Indian market in the future.”

The practical Hyundai i10 and the stylish, fun-to-drive i20, is Hyundai’s new high-volume player that has set new benchmarks for their respective segments. Both these cars deliver the optimal blend of distinctive design, voluminous interiors, fuel economy and technology to its customers.

Hyundai i10 made its debut in India last October 2007 and since then the car has won the hearts of the customers and the industry, capped off by winning the Car of the Year 2008 award.

Powered by a highly efficient 49kWh electrical motor and a 16kWh battery, the i10 electric car uses the advanced LiPoly (Lithium-Ion-Polymer) technology and is equipped with many advantages over other batteries. The low kerb weight and the evolved battery technology gives the i10 Electric a driving range of 160km on a single charge. The vehicle would also satisfy the speed requirements of the consumer with a top speed of 130kmph.

The i10 Electric offers dual recharging cycles. Hyundai estimates that the charging time for a 100 percent capacity battery takes approximately five hours. With a 413V outlet and an industrial strength current, the battery could recharge up to 85 percent of its capacity within fifteen minutes.

The i10 Electric incorporates advanced LiPoly batteries, when compared with nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), delivers the same power with 30 percent less weight, 40 percent less volume and 12 percent greater efficiency. The technology ensures a highly responsive and a fun driving experience for the consumers.