Electromobility was the clear buzzword at the recently concluded Auto Expo 2018. In what was a distinct showcase of intent to go electric, manufacturers across verticals exhibited products ready for the market, or concepts that could potentially bring the desired results expected of electric vehicles. Of particular interest were the solutions exhibited by commercial vehicle manufacturers.
It is largely believed that public transportation, primarily intra-city buses and fleet services will be the early adopters of electromobility. And we did get to see significant movement in that regard. VE Commercial Vehicles introduced its zero emission smart electric buses that feature REVOLO, an indigenously-developed electrification technology by KPIT Technologies. JBM Auto, in collaboration with Europe’s largest electric bus manufacturer Solaris, launched an all-electric bus called Eco-Life.
Ashok Leyland, meanwhile, launched the Citrus-S electric bus that features a swappable battery concept introduced by SUN Mobility. This promises to answer many questions on the availability of charging infrastructure in the country. The solution could well find acceptance in other vehicle categories as well, including smaller CVs used for local deliveries around urban centres in India.
The opportunity available in the market is not lost on anyone. OEMs aside, Tier 1 suppliers too are making considerable investments in electromobility. The Indian industry, in fact, has committed to ensure all new vehicles for intra-city public transport fleets run on pure EVs by 2030. As was visible at the expo, the industry has started taking strong, serious steps in building capabilities around electromobility.
Globally, improved battery technology is helping manufacturers bring down cost and drive up range in passenger EVs. The same deliverables seem to be making commercial EVs an appealing proposition too. While the price of CV EVs continues to far outpace the price of IC-engine vehicles, there is definite traction considering fleet and business owners focus more on the total cost of ownership – an area EVs champion.
Development surely is moving at breakneck speed. While China is at the forefront of EV sales and development globally – the country sold 777,000 new-energy vehicles in 2017; a whopping 53 % increase over 2016 – manufacturers in other markets aren’t sitting idle. India may have just started its EV journey, but as it has proved in the past, the Indian industry is capable of leapfrogging unlike anyone else.
Competition in the EV space is just heating up, and that’s good news for consumers.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, March 2018