Source: The Economic Times, Jan 11, 2017
NEW DELHI: The government has, for the first time, decided to fund up to 60% of the research and development (R&D) cost for developing indigenous low-cost electric technology that will help power two-, three-wheelers and commercial vehicles operating in public spaces, a move aimed at reducing pollution.
The government, which considers electric mobility as an alternative to cut pollution and boost its ‘Make in India’ initiative, expects low-cost electric technology to help replace petrol and diesel-run vehicles, which are currently used as public transport.
“The intent is to make the hybrid and electric vehicle market in India self-sustaining by increasing domestic capacities for product and technology development. We are inviting proposals in five areas, which will be undertaken as consortia projects involving multiple companies and academic institutions.
The government has agreed to provide up to 60% of R&D costs involved in eligible projects,” a senior government representative associated with the Technology Platform for Electric Mobility (TPEM), said. TPEM is a joint initiative of the departments of heavy industry (DHI) and science and technology (DST).
TPEM is creating a collaborative platform for developers, suppliers, automakers to work together in five areas — lithium battery technology, motors and drives, charging infrastructure, drive cycle and traffic pattern, light-weighting of XEVs — and developing affordable electric technology, which will be open for use by all in manufacturing two-wheelers, three-wheelers and commercial vehicles used for public transport.
The consortia projects in these areas will be eligible for grant-inaid funding generally up to 60% with user-industry partners (vehicle and component manufacturers) expected to contribute the rest in terms of resources, manpower, equipment and facilities. The consortia projects will be funded by the government from the corpus of 14,000 crore set aside under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).
“We do not want to fund any individual company but want them to work together to create common standards and devices.
This will help build scale and bring down costs,” said the official. At present, all critical components such as battery, motor and motor controllers, used in electric vehicles are imported, making costs often prohibitive and creating hurdles for the government programme towards Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India (FAME). One of the priority projects for the 30-member committee (comprising automobile industry executives, experts and government officials) monitoring TPEM is to determine a battery module.
Globally, major auto makers design battery modules in-house for use across their range of green vehicles. With demand for electric vehicles being miniscule in India, it has become necessary to design a common module which can be utilised by several manufacturers to generate scale and make viable economics of manufacturing and selling electric vehicles.
“A lot of research is being done at the basic level in India. Indian engineers also work on developing finished products for global companies. However, there is a gap which exists today for progressing from the prototype to testing and validation phase indigenously,” said an executive from a leading component manufacturing company. “The attempt is to bridge this and (locally) make battery modules, motor, motor controllers and power electronics.”
Also underway is a study to evaluate driving patterns on roads to fine-tune the technology. “Since electric vehicles run on battery, the use of air-conditioning and driving uphill may draw out excessive energy. The technology has to factor in these conditions. Light weighting is important to address range anxiety,” said a second government official in know of the project.