In the industry and governments’ efforts to mitigate global climate change, electric vehicles are increasingly being seen as a critical agent that could make a considerable difference. Every stakeholder in the electromobility ecosystem today is driven by this thrust to clean the environment, in addition to helping improve industrialisation, create jobs and energy security.
Discussions, deliberations and debates around electric vehicles have been around for many years now. More progressive nations in the world had jumped on the bandwagon much earlier, and in the past decade and more have made significant progress. India’s foray into this domain is fairly recent; the first move being made in January 2013, when the then Central Government announced the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020. Many announcements, and amendments to such announcements later, the Indian automotive industry is still grappling with uncertainties with regards to the direction that the country intends to take towards an electrified mobility future.
Nonetheless, the industry, researchers and academia are engaging in enormous amount of work to find solutions that could potentially address India’s EV concerns. Clearly, there is a need to take an ecosystem approach to this conundrum.
With that intent, to get every stakeholder in the EV ecosystem to sit together and discuss opportunities for the future, Auto Tech Review organised its inaugural edition of “EV.tech” – a day-long conference-cum-mini-exhibition on the electromobility ecosystem. The conference aimed to delve into key questions confronting the three most critical areas of electric vehicle industry viz. advanced batteries, charging technologies and electronics across three concurrent technology tracks.
It must be mentioned here that Auto Tech Review had initiated discussions around batteries for the future with its ‘India Battery Conclave’ held in 2013 and 2014. And with EV.tech – held on September 19, 2018 in New Delhi – we are delighted to bring back discussions around these subjects to the mainstream.
The objective behind holding three concurrent tracks was to ensure we got the maximum possible subjects covered. Experts offered perspectives around indigenous development and innovations across batteries, battery modelling, charging configurations, motors, power & control electronics, etc.
The conference was chaired by Vikram Gulati, Country Head & Vice President (EA), Toyota Kirloskar Motor while the technology tracks on batteries, charging and electronics were co-chaired by Kartik Gopal, Independent Consultant; Sajid Mubashir, Scientist ‘G’, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India and Dr K Balasubramanium, Director, Nonferrous Materials Technology Development Centre (NFTDC) respectively.
Auto Tech Review also marked the occasion by launching the introductory issue of “EV.tech” – a supplement dedicated to the electric vehicle landscape.
In his inaugural address, Gulati said electromobility is gaining momentum with various governments across the globe announcing enabling policies, OEMs chalking up their future plans and start-ups coming up with innovative business models. These technological breakthroughs in areas of advanced batteries & storage devices, electric motors & drives, electronics & controls seem promising and have the potential to significantly alter the pace of electric mobility, Gulati stated. However, he asserted that these technologies are still in the middle end of the technology readiness index and therefore need substantial resources, efforts and time for their successful commercialisation. Gulati also added that the country must adopt strategies and choose policy directions best suited for India’s national interest in terms of lowering fossil fuel consumption, mitigating pollution and reducing carbon intensity of the transportation sector.
Guest of Honour, Neeti Sarkar, CEO & PD, NATRiP said the FAME scheme has broken new grounds and promoted technology development and sustenance and added that there has been a concerted effort to convert academia ideation into meaningful and sustainable business models.
In his address, Guest of Honour Abhay Bakre, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) said the transition from ICE to e-mobility is not going to be a simple exercise because the total transition has to be achieved in terms of supply of electricity from the grid, integration of the grid with conventional sources of coal & oil, to new sources of wind & solar. He also brought in focus the need to address new areas such as green corridor, grid integration and power system flexibility for e-mobility. There is a need to debate about how much energy consumption will be allowed for a charging station or what will be the consumption from the transformer/ charger or any other kind of accessories, for which the country is not yet ready, he said.
Rafiq Somani, Area Vice President, ANSYS Inc., said it is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure India emerges as a leader and not just remain a net importer of all e-mobility technologies, as taking the import route (especially for batteries) will make EVs very expensive in India.
Batteries: Co-Chair Kartik Gopal threw light on the western EV model, which has largely been a people-led and government-supported model. He said the Chinese EV model saw electrification of every transportation segment at a rapid clip because it was totally subsidy-driven. Kartik stated that the large penetration of e-rickshaws in India has been more of a market-led as well as a government supported initiative. The cost of running a nation on imported oil is much higher than the cost of running an equivalent amount of km on electrification, he pointed out adding there is a significant 1/3rd to 1/4th level reductions even if one assumes that all lithium ion cells are imported and there is no local manufacturing taking place.
Dr Naveen Gautam, Managing Director, HELLA India Automotive and Member of the Executive Board (Business Division – Electronics) at HELLA said the country should not just straitjacket its focus on lithium-ion batteries given its limited availability, and explore other options of creating cells using oxygen, sodium, calcium, aluminium and iron, as that will be dirt cheap. The focus should be on coming up with alternate solutions that are still lithium-based naturally, but many of these can be substituted by sodium as they are of the same category count, he noted.
Ankit Adhiya, Lead Technology Specialist, ANSYS Inc., stressed the need for design engineers to design batteries having a long range and develop virtual prototypes instead of doing experiments.
Dr S Gopukumar Chief Scientist, Electrochemical Power Systems Division, CSIR-CECRI said the problem with batteries using lithium cobalt oxide is that in theory its capacity is 273 mAhg, but practically one gets 120 to 140 mAhg – ending up losing 50 % of the capacity. There is a need to improve the capacity to reach 160-180 mAhg and then stabilise the structure for high capacity to get 200 to 230 mAhg, he added.
Dr Vineet Dravid, MD, COMSOL India said there is a lot of work that needs to be done at all levels in the EV space and added that India can come up with efficient lithium-ion cells, a technology they can sell to the rest of the world.
The battery track also saw presentations from Dr Debi Prasad Dash, Director, India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA); Dr Sagar Mitra, Associate Professor, Department of Energy Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; Akshay Kashyap, MD, GreenFuel Energy; Gurudevan Devarajan, Engg Services Engineering Manager – System Simulation and Modeling, Siemens; Dhivik Ashok, Founder & CEO, Go GreenBOV and Devesh Pareek, Manager, International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT).
Charging: The session on ‘Charging’ deliberated on what kind of standards can work for the Indian market. Co-Chair Sajid Mubashir said the Indian electricity grid is similar to the European grid and added that India will adopt the European charging system – a simple system that uses Type-2 for AC and additional pins (combo) for DC and caters to only medium and high voltage EVs. Mubashir was hopeful that under the Bharat Charger Specifications developed by the Department of Heavy Industries (DHI), a harmonised system could be developed for wide deployment of low-cost charging infrastructure. The government is keen to put in place an AC public charging point every 5 km and a DC fast public charging point every 25 km, he noted.
He said some global charging solutions may not meet the Indian requirements as the country’s temperatures are higher, battery capacity is smaller and vehicles are different. However, small battery cars will be sufficient for urban use if more DC charging stations are provided in a dense network, Mubashir noted.
Awadhesh Kumar Jha, VP – Charge & Drive and Sustainability, Fortum India said CCS charging standard has an advantage over CHAdeMO standard as under CCS, the vehicle has a single inlet to fit unlike CHAdeMO that has AC and DC plug separately and one has to manage both plugs separately. Jha said the 3.3 kW AC charger is ideal for home charging and should not be tried out for public AC charging in India. India could replicate the European model of deploying 22 kW AC chargers at public places, as no one would have patience to wait for 6-7 hr to engage in public charging. The scenario is different for DC chargers, where one would witness chargers of up to 50 kW and can charge in just 30 min, he noted.
Talking about the vehicle-to-grid technology, Dr Rahul Tongia, Fellow, Brookings India said the grid should not view EVs as a burden. Tongia also talked about the importance of managing the grid load for EVs and how will the grid behave if more number of users drops by a charging point and plugs in simultaneously, and what happens if most users opt for fast charging at the same time.
Arghya Sardar, Head, Technology Foresight for Automotive Research, Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) said India’s current thermal management systems are inadequate in limiting maximum temperature rise of batteries during extreme fast charging.
Maxson Lewis, Managing Director, Magenta Power was the other speaker in this session, highlighting his company’s experience in setting up India’s first EV charging Corridor called ChargeIn on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
Electronics: The third session on ‘Electronics’ saw Dr Balasubramanian urging the auto industry to carefully handle its transition towards electromobility. The transition to EVs will bring in higher software content (already hovering around 60 %) in battery management systems and controllers, he added. There are various opportunities that the EV ecosystem brings in for the India manufacturing sector, he observed. India needs country-specific solutions, where drivetrain designs, power electronics along with software, and retrofit & conversion kits are expected to be key drivers for electromobility, he said.
In his presentation, Anil Yadav, Head of Region Asia, Business Unit Hybrid Electric Vehicle Powertrain Division, Continental AG brought his experience of the Chinese EV market, and how the country progressed to become the world’s EV capital. Dr AK Prakash, Head Advanced Engineering, Hella India Automotive spoke about SRM motors and motor control technology for India.
Mohamadali Sah, Product Line Manager, Vector Informatik GmbH dwelt on the importance of software tools in developing ECUs and charging infrastructure as well as the role of embedded software, more investments in test beds for an EV future. Sameera Damle, Technical Sales & Engineering Solutions, ETAS Automotive India talked about the importance of software validation, while R Vijayalayan, Manager, Control Design Application Engineering, MathWorks India Pvt Ltd said compressing the time in the development of an ECU or even configuring a vehicle configuration system based on simulation reduce hardware requirements. In his presentation, Enoch Eapen, Deputy Manager, ICAT urged companies to focus on electromagnetic compatibility of components and the vehicle. Radio frequencies could affect the functioning of other coupled devices, leading to device performing on its own in a non-linear catastrophic way, he noted.
PANEL DISCUSSION & VALEDICTORY
A panel discussion titled “What’s needed to create an electromobility ecosystem in India – role of different stakeholders” was also organised, with Deepangshu Dev Sarmah, Editor-in-Chief, Auto Tech Review as the moderator. Panellists in the discussion included Dr Tapan Sahoo, Senior VP (Engg., Research, Design & Development), Maruti Suzuki India Limited; Guruprasad Mudlapur, Managing Director, Bosch Automotive Electronics; Nikunj Sanghi, President, ASDC; Sohinder Gill, Global CEO, Hero Eco & Director General, SMEV; Rafiq Somani, Area Vice President, ANSYS Inc. and Arpit Agarwal, Principal, Blume Ventures.
Gracing the valedictory session, CV Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India Limited said mobility is poised to change over a period of time. Asserting that EV is the way forward, he added that there is a strong need to create a value proposition for the customer.
The conference ended with positive feedback from speakers and delegated alike. While the format was appreciated by the attendees, the range of subjects EV.tech covered came in for special appreciation from all. The conference was supported by ANSYS as Presenting Partner and was Powered by Siemens. Continental and Vector were the Gold Partners, while COMSOL, ETAS, Greenfuel Energy Solutions and Michelin were the Co-Partners. EV.tech 2018 was also supported by ICAT, ARAI, ACMA, SMEV and IESA.