The day-long conference served as an opportunity for stakeholders in the electric mobility ecosystem to deliberate on the opportunities, challenges, and roadmap for the future. In a first of its kind survey, Auto Tech Review collaborated with Carwale to find what consumers think about electric mobility
The nascent electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem in the country received a much-needed boost with the government announcing the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-II) scheme earlier this year, essentially aimed at boosting EV sales and development of its manufacturing ecosystem. Clearly, as the automotive industry looks at alternate fuels to pave the way for cleaner mobility, electric vehicles have emerged as one of the cleaner energy solutions over the conventional international combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
There is no denying the fact that there have been far too many policy flip-flops on the part of the government, but all that appears to be a thing of the past with the FAME II scheme, being widely seen as a move that could drive rapid adoption of electric vehicles. The realization has dawned on the industry stakeholders, who initially sounded reluctant to this transition from ICEs to EVs. Clean energy solutions promise not only to make our environment cleaner but also help improve industrialization, create jobs and energy security.
Of course, there are multiple challenges for the adoption of EVs to take place. The country is still grappling with a lack of adequate charging infrastructure and there are strong public reservations over the affordability of such vehicles. India is striving to be a significant player in this EV space, where countries like China, Norway, Japan, and the USA have made substantial progress, in terms of EV adoption. In the Indian context, industry, researchers and academia have carried out an enormous amount of work to find solutions that could potentially address India’s EV concerns.
It must be mentioned here that Auto Tech Review was one of the early initiators of discussions around batteries for the future, having introduced its ‘India Battery Conclave’ in 2013, the year the government of India had launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. Carrying forward discussions around the electric mobility ecosystem, the second edition of EV.tech, which was recently organized by Auto Tech Review, served as an opportunity for stakeholders in the EV ecosystem to deliberate on the opportunities, challenges, and roadmap for the future.
The EV.tech 2019 conference focussed on two critical areas of the electric vehicle (EV) industry – Batteries & Charging, and Electronics & Electricals. The day-long conference saw industry experts share diverse perspectives about the electromobility ecosystem in the country.
Gracing the inaugural session, CV Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India said people are living in a world replete with volatility, uncertainty, complexities and ambiguity (VUCA). Raman was categorical that stricter emissions with old vehicles will not solve the pollution problem and added that there are approximately 9 mn vehicles that are pre-BS I that need to be taken off the roads.
He added that the country seriously needs to focus on alternative fuels such EVs, CNG, ethanol, methanol, and HEV, localize HEV and EV technology and pave the way for an environmentally-friendly and energy-secure mobility. Stressing the need for focussing on multi-modal mobility solutions for the future, Raman said there must be seamless connectivity across various types of mobility solutions so that customers can move from one point to another with ease.
Steffen Knapp, Director, Volkswagen India Passenger Cars said the acceptance of e-mobility among consumers is increasing, moving from being niche to being a mainstream product. He shed light on how EVs have witnessed rapid adoption in Norway and intimated that 60 % of new cars bought in the country are electric vehicles. Knapp said EVs hold a lot of promise in India as the private ownership of vehicles in the country is quite low at 18 cars per 1,000 citizens as compared to around 69 cars in China and 786 cars in the US per 1,000 people.
Anil Srivastava, Principal Consultant and Mission Director, Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, NITI Aayog underlined the importance of having policies that are dynamic and in line with market needs. He cited the example of how China has moved away from offering subsidies to low-range electric vehicles in 2010-2011 to doling out subsidies now only for high-range electric vehicles. Rejecting the all-pervading talk that policy stability is a crying need in the country, Srivastava asserted that the government’s strong commitment, in terms of tax benefits for EVs, is a fair indication that adequate policies are in place for the development of the EV ecosystem.
Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan supported EV.tech 2019 as its Knowledge Partner. Addressing the Partners’ Session, Kaushik Madhavan, Vice President – Mobility, South Asia, F&S said the convergence of connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) will lead to three platforms – vehicle platform, electric platform, and digital platform – that will serve as building blocks for autonomous vehicle development. He stated that shared mobility will witness increased traction given the substantial investments and partnerships forged by OEMs with shared mobility service providers.
EV.tech 2019 marked the release of an EV Consumer Awareness Survey conducted by Carwale in association with Auto Tech Review. Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO, CarWale offered detailed perspectives on the findings as well as the methodology used for the survey (refer the box for more details). This session also had Prateek Dattani, CEO, EPG Economic and Strategy Consulting, the UK elaborating on how shared mobility has transformed the way people commute, in terms of lower costs involved than when owning a vehicle. India’s huge import bill is a growing concern, and the adoption of EVs can help reduce this concern, Dattani observed.
BATTERIES & CHARGING
The first technical session covered the areas of electric vehicles concerning battery technologies and charging infrastructure, and was chaired by Sajid Mubashir, Scientist G, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. He set the context by speaking about the work carried out by the government with regards to new battery chemistries beyond lithium-ion as well as the need for a framework for EVs and batteries, along with necessary policies with regards to charging infrastructure in India. Stressing the need for a modular platform for batteries and charging, Mubashir said there must be incentives for anyone to carry out EV battery development research.
The speakers in this session included Dr Debi Prasad Dash, Executive Director, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA); Dr Vineet Dravid, Managing Director, COMSOL India; Kapil Sethi, Business Head, Bevolt Smart Charging Solutions and Piyush Gupta, CEO, Lithion Power Pvt Ltd. Dr Dash touched upon advanced and Giga-scale battery manufacturing in the country as well as brought to the fore some of the new battery technologies that would enable higher energy density and extended range of EVs. In addition to improvements to lithium-ion, other technologies mentioned included solid-state, lithium-sulphur and zinc-air batteries, in addition to PEM (proton-exchange membrane) or polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC).
Dr Dravid covered the topics of battery and charging and dwelt on the importance of simulation in the development of the EV ecosystem. He said it is important to simulate batteries for the purpose of the conception of innovation, design and performance optimization, and finally for improved testing and verification. Simulation strategies for batteries can be as simple as lumped models, then moving on to a single particle approach and porous electrode theory, and finally being as complex as creating heterogeneous models, Dr Dravid noted.
Sethi threw light on the various forms of charging infrastructure (including fast and smart charging) as well as talked about the benefits that smart charging offers to electrified mobility, where range anxiety is a larger part of the problem. Meanwhile, Gupta spoke about the energy market that supports the EV segment, while also mentioning the bottlenecks observed while accessing that energy. He spoke of the various solutions offered by Lithion Power to address some of the issues related to power requirements for EV charging.
ELECTRONICS & ELECTRICAL
Kartik Gopal, Strategy Consultant – EVs, Energy Storage, Commuting & Mobility Solutions, IoT & Telematics, chaired the second session, which focussed on the electronics and electrical facets of electric mobility. He put forth the engineering and technological contexts of EV drivetrains and electronics. With regard to the engineering section, he shared his thoughts on the required power-to-weight ratios and torque specifications of EVs, cost constraints, durability requirements and the need for India-centric solutions. Similarly, in the context of technology, Gopal touched on the electric machines and power electronics technology roadmaps that are required specifically for India.
The first speaker of this session was Shalendra Gupta, Co-Founder, and CFO, Altigreen Propulsion Labs, who spoke on why electric vehicles are an inevitable disruption in the automotive industry and added that the technology offers benefits in terms of economics, environment, public health and renewable energy. He also talked about the market opportunity for electric drivetrains in India, especially with respect to the automotive segments of two-wheelers and cars. Saurav Kumar, Founder & CEO, Euler Motors talked about his company’s development of an electric three-wheeler that is focussed on the transportation of goods. He also underlined the importance of the integration of software in EVs in order to deliver market-fit products. The session concluded with a brief audience question session around the topic of EV electronics and electrical.
CXO PANEL DISCUSSION
The EV.tech 2019 featured a panel discussion graced by industry leaders on the topic of ‘Solving the climate and congestion conundrum – the need for a paradigm shift?’ The CXO panel discussion was moderated by Arun Malhotra, Former Managing Director, Nissan India. The panellists included Pamela Tikku, Chief Business Officer, Senior General Manager (Powertrain), ICAT; Abhijeet Sinha, Programme Director, Ease of Doing Business Programme (EODB) & Country Director, Advanced Services for Social and Administrative Reforms (ASSAR); Anil Kumar, Managing Director & President – India, SEG Automotive India; and Akshay Kashyap, Founder & Managing Director, Green fuel Energy Solutions.
The panel deliberated on the many causes of congestion and climatic changes in the country, and how the automotive industry needs to address these issues. India has compromised with the level of features and emission standards in its vehicles, so as to access low-cost vehicles, noted Sinha. He added that this has been a cause of increased emissions, as well as low efficiency of vehicles. Meanwhile, others panellists blamed poor town planning for the increase in congestion in most of the cities in India and also observed that there is a direct link between CO2 and climate change. There was a line of thought that there is not only a need for cleaner vehicles but also a need for cleaner forms of power generation for EVs.
EV.tech 2019 was supported by iTriangle Infotech as the Presenting Partner, while COMSOL was the Gold Partner. SKF and Automotive Test Systems (ATS) were the Co-Partners; Frost & Sullivan the Knowledge Partner; World Auto Forum the Global Auto Think Tank Partner, and India EV100 the Industry Partner. ARAI, ICAT and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) were the Supporting Partners of the event.
In a first of its kind survey, Auto Tech Review collaborated with Carwale to find consumers’ awareness about electric mobility. The survey was run over a period of 10 days and received 170,588 unique responses. A total of nine questions were asked to respondents that were spread across Tier I (50 %), Tier II (30 %) and Tier III (20 %) cities. About 85 % of the respondents were in the 18-44 years’ bracket, while the rest were above the age of 45 years.
Elaborating on the survey findings, Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO, CarWale, revealed that 73 % of respondents are keen to buy an EV because it is environmentally-friendly, while 51.4 % of respondents feel that electric cars are a viable alternative to petrol/diesel cars. About 52.7 % of respondents prefer electric cars rather than hybrids, while the minimum driving range that respondents are looking for is 50-200 km. Besides range, respondents feel that safety and battery are the two most important features of an electric vehicle.
In a question to why they won’t buy electric cars, 52.8 % of respondents highlighted the lack of charging infrastructure. Given a choice, 56.3 % of people would prefer in-house charging point over public charging infrastructure. About 18.5 % of respondents were open to an instant battery-swapping option. Approximately 39 % of people are willing to pay a premium of 20 % to buy EVs over their petrol/diesel counterparts, however, 22 % of people do not want to pay any premium.