Betting Big on Electric Drivetrain Solutions: Dr Amitabh Saran, Altigreen

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Betting Big on Electric Drivetrain Solutions: Dr Amitabh Saran, Altigreen

Betting Big on Electric Drivetrain Solutions: Dr Amitabh Saran, Altigreen

Bengaluru-based Altigreen Propulsion Labs is focussing on offering electric drivetrain solutions for commercial three-wheelers to offer a better total cost of ownership over conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as well as reduce carbon emissions 

There is an overwhelming focus across the automotive industry on cleaner mobility solutions – any talk of clean energy solutions brings electric vehicles (EVs) to the fore that offer a better total cost of ownership over conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as well as reduce carbon emissions and is environmentally-friendly. Bengaluru-based Altigreen Propulsion Labs has been consistently focussing on offering carbon-free transportation solutions – it offers electric powertrain solutions for three-wheelers that include motors, controllers, gearboxes, transmissions, DC-DC convertor, display cluster, IoT-based vehicle telematics, sensors, etc.

The company is betting big on electric commercial three-wheelers although it has the capabilities to offer solutions for different vehicle segments. “We can offer EV solutions for various segments such as two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheeler SCVs, but currently our prime focus is on offering electric drivetrain solutions for commercial three-wheelers that are ARAI-certified,” says Dr Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO, Altigreen Propulsion Labs in an exclusive chat with Auto Tech Review.

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The company has no doubts that the last mile transportation (LMT) space will change the country’s mobility landscape. “Last mile transportation in India is totally driven by economics. We will continue to focus on LMT solutions as we feel that this segment will be the principal driver of electrification in this country,” Saran pointed out.


The Altigreen Propulsion Labs CEO said unlike the western economies that adopt a top-down approach, for an emerging market like India such an approach will not work. “Look, the methodology followed by western economies is a top-down where they strive to bring the most expensive concepts/model in the market that has all the ‘wow’ elements a vehicle can have. In India however we have to adopt a bottom-up approach as economics are the drivers of emerging markets such as ours. If you can deliver a solution that is viable for this segment, it can be extended to other expensive vehicles too,” he noted.

EV solution created for the Indian market Saran insists has to be well-thought-out. “The market needs of India are unique – high ambient temperatures and waterlogging are common in India, our market has different drive cycles, overloading issues, unprofessional driver behavior, potholes, dust, etc. Our focus while creating EV solutions has always been to ensure the build quality is rugged and impeccable. Further, all EV components are designed to address our unique challenges. For instance, our EV motors offer the same high efficiency over a wide speed range. I don’t want a scenario where the vehicle offers efficiency when driving at 15 km/h and struggles in power consumption at 35-40 km/h,” he explained.

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There is a lot of buzz about considerable work happening in the area of electric vehicle batteries. And Saran is of the opinion that the battery technology is and will keep evolving. “The testing cycle of any battery is typically around a decade before it is deemed fit for commercialization. The future of EVs will be based on a good battery technology – it could be fuel cell, lithium, metal, graphene or sodium. Many of these battery technologies using different kinds of materials are already in testing phase,” he said.

Saran cautioned that the country should not get stuck with a specific battery technology especially in LMT. “If I’m creating a drivetrain solution the vehicle control unit (VCU) - battery management system (BMS) interface must ensure the vehicle is largely agnostic to the battery. Driven by software, using AI/heuristics, the VCU should take decisions based on basic raw battery data," he explained.

The Altigreen Propulsion Labs honcho agrees that battery swapping is a good concept to have in the Indian context, largely for convenience, in specific vehicle segments like two-wheelers. “I don’t care whether it is battery swapping or battery portability as these are good solutions to avail.”

As a parting shot, Saran made it abundantly clear that FAME II subsidy is good for the nascent EV industry but something that cannot be sustainable in the long run. “Any government support is welcome but in India it will be wrong to expect subsidy for eternity. At the end of the day, every player has to build robust business models that will drive the adoption of EVs and institutionalise change instead of banking on life-time subsidy only.”