Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles are being seen as the most viable form of future mobility. Various stakeholders globally are spending enormous amount of time and energy on finding solutions to address mobility demands of the future. The Society of Automotive Engineers INDIA (SAEINDIA) is organising iTEC (International Transportation Electrification Conference) India 2015, a three-day conference organised in association with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Industry Application Society.
Held under the theme "Electrifying Mobility Through Holistic Ecosystem Solutions", the main aim of the event is to develop a complete ecosystem for future electric mobility in India, which is seen as a very big hurdle at present.
iTEC India 2015 will address technical interests related to electrification in multiple transportation sectors, including EVs, HEVs, PHEV, aeronautical, railroad and off-road vehicles. Additionally, the event will showcase over 100 papers from about 10 countries on different topics, and will hold the first-ever pan-India student EV competition. SAEINDIA is planning to organise the iTEC India event once every two years.
In an interaction, Dr Aravind S Bharadwaj, General Chair, Steering Committee, iTEC India; President, SAEINDIA and Head – Technology, TPDS, MRV, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (L) and RK Shenoy, Member, Steering Committee, iTEC India and Senior Vice President, Engineering Unit – Powertrain Electronics, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Ltd (R) gave us a lowdown on the trends, challenges and possible solutions of electric mobility in the future.
NEED FOR ELECTRIFICATION IN INDIA
Issues like energy security and emissions are critical, said Dr Bharadwaj and the need for mobility with high level of energy efficiency make electrification of mobility important in India. It is in this context that iTEC India plays a major role, as it brings together all parties involved in this endeavour for meaningful discussions. The event is also likely to help create an ecosystem for electric mobility in India, since many components and sub-systems are yet to be localised. That will make electric mobility more viable from a business point of view, Dr Bharadwaj said.
At this stage, varying levels of electric mobility can be employed in India, including micro-hybrid, mild-hybrid, strong-hybrid, PHEV, EV with range extender and pure EV, noted Shenoy. Even the simplest form of powertrain electrification helps reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 %, with the figure increasing with other forms of electrification. Powertrain electrification also results in increased connectivity of the vehicle with the infrastructure, which makes it easier to develop autonomous driving vehicles, he said.
With all the promise of energy security and cleaner environment, electric mobility also comes with its fair share of challenges. While global challenges are mainly limited to the right energy storage solutions, India has its own set of challenges, especially in terms of infrastructure, mindset and costs. While the shortage of charging infrastructure is one of the more visible drawbacks, the lack of local suppliers, range-anxiety, high excise & customs duty, and clean source of electricity are equally critical.
For electrification of mobility to take-off, localisation of motors and some type of electronics is very important as that will drive down costs, said Dr Bharadwaj. Taking a linear path on this this won't yield results, he said and added that more players need to be roped in along with the on-going initiatives by the Government. Plans such as NEMMP and FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) are a push towards the adoption of electric mobility in the country. On its part, the industry is trying to incentivise the usage of EVs and HEVs, Dr Bharadwaj noted, but it must be ensured that these incentives are applicable for all types of electric mobility.
Shenoy is of the belief that India needs an indigenous model to drive electric mobility to the next level. India has lower average speed with shorter travel range, and requires easier charging facilities, he said. Start-ups could bring in newer solutions to these problems, Shenoy said.
One of the most critical challenges that the mobility industry faces today, is with the limited range and high cost of battery technology. And it has often been noticed that the participation of leading battery manufacturers in electric mobility events like iTEC has been fairly low. Battery makers have continued business, and that may be the reason for them not participating actively, Dr Bharadwaj noted. Many of these companies are carrying out research for newer battery technologies. There are opportunities to develop disruptive technologies that could completely alter the battery technology scenario in the country, he said.
Shenoy noted that there is currently a lot of collaboration work taking place around battery technology globally, and this is expected to continue for a long time to come. There is a need to identify the right form of battery technology that is suitable for the local market and carry it forward, he added.
Text: Naveen Arul