Electric Vehicles This Week: Tata Motors Showcases 6 EVs At Auto Expo; Budget Allocates $40.5 Mn To EVs

This week, the EV fever in India reached a new peak as a result of the Auto Expo 2018, which is a biennial automotive show currently being held in Greater Noida. Day 1 of the event saw several Indian and global automobile companies joining the EV bandwagon, including Renault, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Mahindra.
 
While Tata Motors stole the show with six futuristic electric vehicles, the country’s sole EV manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra was not far behind, having showcased a range of EVs, including a bus called e-COSMO and a lithium-ion battery powered three-wheeler called Treo.
 
Chennai-headquartered commercial vehicles manufacturer Ashok Leyland also launched its first electric bus, called Circuit S, at this year’s Auto Expo. Maruti Suzuki, on the other hand, unveiled the first design concept of its electric vehicle, e-Survivor.
 
In other news, the Union Budget 2018 has allocated $40.5 Mn in fresh funds towards the development of electric and hybrid vehicles. Mumbai-based energy storage startup ION Energy has acquired French battery management company Freemens SAS, as part of a cash-and-equity deal. Post the acquisition, the entire Freemens engineering and sales team will be joining the core team of ION.
 
On the international front, Japanese automotive giant Toyota has hit 1.52 Mn annual sales of electrified powertrains globally in 2017, three years ahead of its set target of 2020. British Petroleum (BP Plc) has invested $5 Mn US-based mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire, in a bid to provide rapid charging at its retail sites across Britain and Europe.
 
While Nissan is set to bring its all-electric vehicle Leaf to seven markets in Asia Pacific, German automotive supplier Schaeffler has reportedly bagged orders worth over $1.25 Bn (1 Bn euros) in sales in the area of electric mobility.
 
Given that so much has been happening in the country’s electric vehicle sector, we bring to you the 11th edition of the weekly EV roundups.
 
Union Budget 2018 Allocates $40.5 Mn To Electric Vehicles
For the faster adoption and manufacturing of electric (and hybrid) vehicles, an amount of $40.5 Mn (INR 260 Cr) has been allotted to support market development of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs).
 
Te proposed funding will help create an ecosystem through the provision of subsidy for the purchase of EVs, charging infrastructure and supporting R&D for indigenous development of key components of electric vehicles.
 
The funding aims to provide a subsidy for the introduction of over 1,000 electric vehicles, along with ‘charging infrastructure’, in the public transport segment (buses, taxis, 3-wheelers) across 11 cities.
 
ION Energy Acquires French Battery Management Company Freemens SAS
Mumbai-based energy storage startup ION Energy has acquired French battery management company Freemens SAS, as part of a cash-and-equity deal. Post the acquisition, the entire Freemens engineering and sales team will be joining the core team of ION.
 
With this, Freemens SAS founder and CEO Alexandre Collet joined ION as co-founder and VP of Engineering to strengthen the startup’s founding team.
 
Commenting on the development, ION Energy co-founder and CEO Akhil Aryan said, “Our acquisition of Freemens is reflective of ION’s growth and vision. In an increasingly crowded market, Freemens’ unparalleled Battery Management know-how has helped ION leap forward in sync with our mission to build reliable, high performance and no-compromise energy storage systems. I’m incredibly excited to welcome Alex and Freemens onboard our journey.”
 
EV Push Needs A Forum To Discuss Policy Matters: ASSOCHAM
ASSOCHAM along with NRI Consulting & Solutions India has published an electric mobility report, urging the government to set up a National Electric Vehicle Forum which will facilitate the policy-making process in this regard.
 
In the report, Sandeep Jajodia President, ASSOCHAM has stated that nothing has caught the imagination of the industry and policy makers quite like the government’s ambitious plans for a mass scale shift to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. While the transformative push for electric vehicles has become a cause célèbre for India and the world, it presents challenges along with a host of opportunities.
 
The report emphasised the necessity of 3Cs – Consumer Acceptance, Cost Reduction and Charging Infrastructure – for achieving the vision as well as the global learnings from countries already working to satisfy the 3Cs. The paper further elaborated the peculiarities of the EV ecosystem in India along with all aspects of the EV value chain.
 
If EVs Account For 20% Of Indian Vehicle Segment By 2025, It Would Be Splendid: Tata Motors CEO
Tata Motors CEO Guenter Butschek believes that, if electric vehicles account for 20-25% of all registered vehicles in India by 2025, it could be considered a “splendid job”.
 
During a recent media interaction, Butschek said that the strong growth in the electric vehicle segment would help in the promotion of fuel cell vehicles as well.
 
Butschek also emphasised on smart mobility for smart cities, saying that the promotion and use of electric vehicles requires a new ecosystem. For EVs to be widely adopted, a developed infrastructure complete with a well-connected network of charging stations is essential.
 
Eicher Trucks & Buses Unveils Zero Emission Smart Electric Buses
Eicher Trucks & Buses, part of VE Commercial Vehicles, has unveiled zero emission smart electric buses, marking its entry in the growing electric bus segment in India. As part of the development, VE Commercial Vehicles will integrate KPIT Technologies’ indigenously developed electrification technology, ‘REVOLO’, on its Skyline Pro bus platform.
 
Commenting on the development, Vinod Aggarwal, MD and CEO, VE Commercial Vehicles said, “The country is at the cusp of a new revolution in transportation, and it is our endeavor to provide India with the best mobility solutions. Together with KPIT Technologies Ltd., we bring our core competencies of a strong bus platform and indigenous technology to build the right products for the market. This further reinforces commitment to usher in modernization in the CV industry.”
“The Smart Electric Skyline Pro E buses are certified to ply on Indian roads and we are confident they will bring great value to commuters, city transportation corporations and other organizations in this ecosystem. The shift to electric vehicle technology is opening up a number of opportunities for the economy. It is a viable solution to India’s depleting air quality and increasing dependencies on traditional fuel resources,” Aggarwal added.
 
Renault’s Electric Kwid In The Making In China, Will Come To India Soon
French car maker Renault is planning to unveil an affordable electric car in India, once the government institutes a proper policy roadmap. As per reports, the company is preparing to launch the electric version of the Kwid small car in the next few years.
 
According to sources, if the electric Kwid comes to India, it will likely be priced $9,334 (INR 6 Lakh) and would be competing directly with Mahindra e2oPlus.
 
The source said, “The basic architecture — the CMF-A (platform) — has been developed in India; the Chinese counterparts are going to bring in their battery and battery-management system expertise into the project. The vehicle is likely to hit the (Chinese) market in 12-18 months. So, it is only a matter of time before the (electric) Kwid comes to India.”
 
Mahindra And Mahindra’s Luxury Electric Car Being Developed In Turin
Within the next two months, the country’s first EV maker Mahindra and Mahindra will reportedly take a call on whether to launch a car that could be the Indian automotive company’s answer to Tesla in the luxury electric car space.
 
As stated by Mahindra MD Pawan Goenka, the company will be taking a final decision within two months before making a formal announcement.
 
He said during a recent media interaction, “(We are) working on it. The last time that we talked about it, we had said we will be doing feasibility. A lot of work has happened and I think within. I would like to say two months, we should be able to make a final decision and then announce.”
 
“The product is clearly not a mass market product. What we are looking at is a high-end product for personal use and it is not a commercial use product,” Goenka added.
 
No Need To Fear: Nitin Gadkari To Auto Industry
In response to the Indian auto industry’s growing concerns over job losses as a result of the shift to electric mobility, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has given his assurance, stating “there is no reason for fear because there are no restrictions in terms of fuel”.
 
During a recent media ineraction, Gadkari said, “They can make those spare parts which would be used in EVs. Besides, we are not banning petroleum and diesel fuels, so ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles will still sell. Individuals can choose the fuel their car runs on but they will benefit if they (consumers) slowly change with the technology.”
 
According to him, instead of fixating on switching to all electric vehicles by 2030, the market should be drive by market dynamics. The minister said, “If you spend $93.1 (INR 6,000) on your monthly car maintenance, but have to spend only $15.5 (INR 1,000) on an EV, with the maintenance cost falling, you would naturally buy the EV.”
 
“We will also have an electric bus. BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) spends $1.7 (INR 110) per km, while a bus running on ethanol in Nagpur spends $1.2 (INR 78) per km. An electric bus will spend even lesser, at $0.7 (INR 50). Ticket rates will also fall by 25-40%. This is a good thing,” Gadkari added.
 
Toyota-Suzuki To Roll Out Small Electric Car In India By 2020
The alliance between Japanese automakers Toyota and Suzuki is gearing up to launch a small electric car for the mass segment in India by 2020. As per reports, the car will be manufactured at Suzuki’s plant in Gujarat.
 
Globally, Toyota has announced plans to electrify 80% of its portfolio by 2022. To that end, the company is working on a range of futuristic electric solutions, said Akito Tachibana, MD at Toyota’s Indian subsidiary Toyota Kirloskar.
 
Urging the government to institute a long-term policy that promotes electric and hybrid vehicles, Tachibana stated, “Keeping Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulation (fuel efficiency norms in the US) in mind, a small EV (electric vehicle) is a best boy but for larger segments hybrid vehicles are ideal. We need to know what is the intent of the government, is it cutting down on imports of oil, or, is it meeting the CO2 regulation, or reducing emissions?”
 
Mahindra To Supply 1000 E-Veritos To Bhagirathi; Looks To Invest $124.4 Mn In EVs
Mahindra and Mahindra has won an order to supply 1,000 electric vehicles (EVs) to Bengaluru-based fleet operator Baghirathi Travel Solutions. The order will be fulfilled through its subsidiary Mahindra Electric Mobility, announced Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric recently.
 
As per reports, the order value is estimated to be upwards of $15.7 Mn (INR 100 Cr) and is Mahindra’s largest EV order till date.
 
In another development, the company has sought the board’s approval to invest $124.4 Mn (INR 800 Cr) in its EV business. Till date, the company has pumped up to $93.3 Mn (INR 600 Cr) in electric vehicles.
 
The move is aimed at increasing Mahindra’s EV capacity from the current 200 units per month to around 1000 units by end-2018. Ultimately, the goal is to hit 5,000 monthly units by 2020. As per Mahindra MD Pawan Goenka, if things go according to plan, the company will be selling 60,000 EVs in a year, starting from 2020.
 
Govt. Keen To Promote Electric Vehicles: Babul Supriyo
Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, has said recently that the government is “very much excited” to promote the adoption of electric vehicles in the country. To that end, the Indian government will in the process of taking many positive steps in the future, Supriyo added.
 
He said recently, “Electric vehicles are necessary to keep a check on pollution and carbon emission.”
 
The development comes a month after the minister informed the Parliament that there are no concrete plans to switch to all electric vehicles by 2030. He stated back then, “There are, at present, no plans under consideration of the Department of Heavy Industry to make all vehicles in the country powered by electricity by 2030.”
 
Bescom To Set Up EV Charging Stations In Bengaluru
Public utility provider Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) is reportedly planning to set up electric vehicle charging stations for private and public use in Bengaluru. This marks the first time that a public utility provider in the country has forayed into the electric vehicles space.
 
As per reports, Bescom is set to establish 11 such stations across Bengaluru over the next six months, starting with one at Bescom’s corporate head office at KR Circle.
 
Commenting on the development, Bescom MD P. Rajendra Cholan said, “The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission has agreed to set a special tariff for private parties to encourage people to use electric vehicles. The changes will reflect when it is official. While it is a good move to promote clean energy, it will also help generate revenue.”
 
Important Development From Auto Expo 2018
Mahindra Unveils Range Of Electric Vehicles
At the ongoing Auto Expo 2018 in Greater Noida, the country’s first EV manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra has unveiled a range of electric vehicles, including a bus called e-COSMO and a lithium-ion battery powered three-wheeler called Treo.
 
Additionally, the company showcased a new electric vehicle drivetrain known as MESMA (Mahindra Electric Scalable Modular Architecture) and Atom, a last-mile mobility vehicle.
 
Additionally, Mahindra’s EV range, as presented at the Auto Expo, also included the electric version of its compact SUV e-KUV100 and the e2o NXT, an upgraded version of its existing electric hatchback e2oPlus.
 
Tata Motors Presents Six Electric Vehicles, Including An Electric Tigor
Apart from Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors also showcased up to six electric vehicles (EVs) at the Auto Expo 2018. Based around the theme of “Smart Mobility, Smart Cities”, Tata Motors’ range of products included an electric version of its compact sedan Tigor, a fully electric buss and an EV version of its first race car RaceMo, among others.
 
Speaking at the auto show, Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran said, “Tata Motors is committed to future mobility with significant investments being made in the electric, passenger and commercial vehicles segments.”
 
Additionally, the company also unveiled two new vehicular architecture platforms for passenger vehicles, as part of its efforts to foray into new segments.
 
Ashok Leyland Launches Electric Bus Circuit S
Chennai-headquartered commercial vehicles manufacturer Ashok Leyland recently launched its first electric bus, known as Circuit S, at the Auto Expo. With a seating capacity of around 25 to 35, the bus will likely be available commercially within the next three to six months.
 
As stated by Ashok Leyland MD Vinod K. Dasari, the company has so far invested around $15.7 Mn (INR 100 crore) in its electric vehicle business. For Circuit S, it has partnered Sun Mobility, which will be providing swappable smart battery solutions through its kiosks.
 
According to Sun Mobility Co-Founder and Vice Chairman Chetan Maini, each of these kiosks is capable of swapping 400 batteries per day. Commenting on the development, Dasari said, “This idea has the power to change the way our public transport system works. Circuit-S would cost lesser and require minimal maintenance.”
 
Maruti Suzuki Showcases First Design Concept Of E-Survivor
The Indian subsidiary of Japanese car maker Suzuki, Maruti Suzuki, unveiled the first design concept of its electric vehicle, e-Survivor, at the Auto Expo 2018. As per reports, the company is set to launch its first EV in the country by 2020.
 
In line with this goal, Suzuki is also planning to set up a lithium-ion battery plant in Gujarat, as part of a joint venture with Denso and Toshiba. As stated by Kenichi Ayukawa, MD and CEO of Maruti Suzuki, the company is currently studying the various factors that can facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles in the country.
 
“Concept e-Survivor symbolises our commitment to clean technologies of the future. Maruti Suzuki will launch its first Electric Vehicle in India in 2020. At the same time, we recognize that there is a larger vision behind electrification of powertrains,” Ayukawa said.
 
As per sources, Maruti Suzuki also showcased a working model of Suzuki’s next generation hybrid technology at the auto show.
 
Renault Unveils Electric Cars ZOE And TREZOR
At the Auto Expo 2018, French car manufacturer Renault presented its mini electric car ZOE and the TREZOR, a two-seater electric supercar. A two-seater electric coupe, TREZOR is 4.7-metre long, 2.18-metre wide and 1.08-metre high.
 
ZOE, on the other hand, is a fully electric concept car made from lightweight carbon fibre, which enables the vehicle to achieve speeds of up to 100 kpm from zero within just 3.2 seconds.
 
Speaking at the event, Sumit Sawhney, MD and CEO of Renault’s Indian unit, said “We have seen a shift towards better design and technology and globally the shift is towards electric autonomous and connected cars. Transformation towards electric vehicles (EVs) is inevitable in India. [We are] awaiting a government policy on research and development before taking a long-term strategic decision.”
 
Will Enter Indian EV Market Once There Is Policy Clarity: Honda
During the Auto Expo 2018, Japanese automotive giant Honda said it will wait for the Indian government to put a proper policy on electric vehicles in place before entering the country’s EV market.
 
Elaborating further, Honda Cars India (HCIL) President and CEO Yoichiro Ueno said, “In order to stitch up a strategy (for EV segment), we are requesting to have a roadmap regarding plans of charging stations. Without a clear policy, it will be difficult to select models.”
 
According to Ueno, for India, the biggest challenge is establishing a robust charging infrastructure. According to him, for a big country like India, a combination of electric and hybrid vehicles would be ideal.
 
Proper Clean Tech Ecosystem Essential In India To Cut Emissions: Maruti
According to Maruti Suzuki MD and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa, India needs a robust ecosystem that can support clean technologies like electric vehicles, in order to be able to cut automobile emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuel imports.
 
According to him, products alone will not be enough to help India make concrete changes in terms of pollution, emissions and fossil fuel dependence. He said, “In our understanding, the vision of cleaner technologies is not ‘import and assemble’. Rather, it must go hand in hand with the mission of Make in India.”
 
Developments From Around The World
Toyota Hits 1.52 Mn EV Sales Mark Three Years Before Target
Automotive giant Toyota has recorded 1.52 Mn annual sales of electrified powertrains globally in 2017, marking a 8% jump from its sales record in 2016. This means that the company has reached the target of selling over 1.5 Mn electric vehicles annually, nearly three years ahead of its set target of 2020.
 
Speaking on the feat, Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation said, “In just over 20 years, we have seen electrified new vehicle sales increase from under 500 sales to more than 1.5 Mn sales.”
 
“This is a testament from our customers to the quality, durability and reliability of our electrified powertrains, and, thanks to them, has led us to establish a solid and sustainable foundation for mass producing a more diverse portfolio of electrified vehicles across our range moving forward,” he added.
 
BP Plc Invests $5 Mn In FreeWire To Bolster EV Push
British Petroleum (BP Plc) has invested $5 Mn US-based mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire, in a bid to provide rapid charging at its retail sites across Britain and Europe.
 
According to the company’s spokesperson, the move is geared towards rolling out the San Francisco-based technology firm’s charger units at selected retail sites in the UK and Europe later this year.
 
Commenting on the development, BP’s Downstream CEO Tufan Erginbilgic said, “Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.”
 
Schaeffler Bags $1.25 Bn E-Mobility Orders
German automotive supplier Schaeffler has reportedly bagged orders worth over $1.25 Bn (1 Bn euros) in sales in the area of electric mobility.
 
Matthias Zink, Head of Schaeffler’s Automotive OEM Division confirmed the reports, stating, “Regarding order intake we are talking about sales of at least 1 billion euros from eight new projects based on their duration.”
 
Electric Nissan Leaf To Come To Asia Pacific
Japanese automobile company Nissan is set to bring its all-electric vehicle Leaf to seven markets in Asia Pacific. As per reports, the company is planning to add two more countries to the list soon.
 
According to sources, Nissan Leaf will be launched in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand during the next fiscal year. Indonesia and the Philippines are the two nations that Nissan is also looking to introduce Leaf in.
 
“We are seriously planning. I want to find some good chance to announce some concrete timing in the market,” said Yutaka Sanada, Nissan’s Regional Head for Southeast Asia recently.
 
As evident from the heightened enthusiasm about electric vehicles at the Auto Expo 2018, automotive companies around the world, including giants like Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, Renault and Nissan, are slowly shifting to electric mobility solutions of the future.
 
In India, the government has finally realised the potential of the necessity of green mobility technologies like electric vehicles. With a fresh allocation of $40.5 Mn towards the development of electric and hybrid vehicles, how the domestic market benefit from the additional funds and reforms remains to be seen.
 
If successful, the shift to electric vehicles could potentially help India save up to $300 Bn (INR 20 Lakh Cr) in oil imports and nearly 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, as per a recent report by FICCI and Rocky Mountain Institute.
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