Toyota unveiled its electric-petrol Prius at the International Engineering Trade Fair in New Delhi. Honda Motor Company unveiled its Insight hybrid car and the FCX fuel-cell vehicle in Delhi. Mahindra said that a hybrid SUV will be launched soon Dalmer-chrysler has been working on biodiesel powered Mercedes. In January mahindra has launched biodiesel powered Arjun tractors and Bolero. Has Indian automotive industry looking for a hybrid future?
Especially for a fossil deficient country like India, Hybrid, fuel cell powered and biodiesel powered vehicles seems to be a good alternative. Biodiesel, Electric vehicles (EV), Hybrid vehicles and Fuel cell vehicles will replace the Petro – Diesel vehicles in coming years. I will write on all these things in future. This post is all about electric vehicles in India.
Electric vehicles are virtually maintenance free. It has no gears, no engine, no belt or chain drive, zero emission, no pollution, electronic start and accelerator, besides it is exempted from the Central Vehicles registration act by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and does not require any registration or license. These bikes are usually chargeable at 220V which your refrigerator requires. For charging bikes require special adapter. Batteries, Motors and other electrical kits are imported from china and other countries whereas mechanical design and assembly of these bikes are done here. Electric bikes target School students, women and who are under 18 years of age. Following is the review on some of the manufacturers and their products in India.
Indus – division of Electrotherm a gujrat based company is the recent player in electric vehicle market. It offers two scooterette and four bikes models with the motor power range 200-250W. YO-smart scooter model from Indus come with a very compact dimension. The vehicle weighs less and has a payload of 75kg. YO-smart vehicle clocks a top speed of 25km/hr and the vehicle offers a range/charge mileage of 75km. Charge duration required is 6 – 8hours. Electrotherm’s YOBikes are ranged between Rs 13,999 and Rs 23,249.
EKO vehicle a Bangalore based company offers EKO cosmic –I scooter and EGO bike. This company has been in this business for a long time and has dealers in various locations in India than its counterparts. Battery weighs at 28kgs and has a life of 12000 – 15000kms. The company offers a rapid charger which will charge the bike at 10 – 15 minutes (good for intuitional consumers). Cosmic offers a variable mileage depends on your payload. The maximum speed is 40 km/hr and Cosmic noise is less than 60decibel. Cosmic is offered in five colours and is exported many countries.
Pune based Ace motors manufacturers e-bike (electric bike) and the majority of the components of this bike are imported from China based company Changtong E Bike Company Ltd. The e-bikes from Ace Motors weigh almost 60kg. The bike offers a load-carrying capacity of 100-140 kg. To cover a distance of 220 km, you need to charge the bike for 6 – 8 hours at 220 volts. The maximum speed of the bike is 25 km/hr and is priced at Rs 26,500.
Reva car is the Indian face of Toyota Prius and Honda FCX. It launched the India’s first electric car in 2001. Reva introduced Energy Management system (EMS) which diagnoses and rectifies the problem of over discharging and helps in better maintenance. To counter the general perception amongst people that electric vehicles are not safe, the Reva has incorporated safety features like the steel space frame, side impact beams, dent-proof ABS body panels, a low voltage system, and a dual-braking system. The Reva is offered in three variants — Standard (non-a/c), Air-conditioned and Classe. Priced at Rs 3.1 lakh (on-road) for the base variant and Rs 4.05 lakh for the Classe variant, the Reva is not exactly very affordable. The non air-conditioned base variant has a driving range of 80 km on a full charge, while the other two air-conditioned variants will give you about 60 km. Cute and super compact Reva which comfortably seat two adults and two kids offered in six colours. Reva has received investments worth USD 20 million recently from Global Environment Fund
There are many regional players in this industry. Now, this industry has attracted major players too. Mahindra eco mobiles a subsidiary of M&M has launched “Bijlee” a 10 seater available only in selected markets. Scooters India a lucknow based company has been offering 8 seater (including driver).Scooters India claims the charge range as 80km at a speed of 30-35km/hr.Many major cycle makers has recently entered this industry. Hero cycles (Hero Honda group) has collaborated with UK based Ultra motor has launched a series of bikes in January 2007. The bikes have a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour and run for about 45-50 kilometres on a single charge. The electric bikes come in the range of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 and the electric scooters in the range of Rs 24,000 to Rs 28,000. Hero group has great investment plans for this segment. Another major bicycle manufacturer Atlas has launched an e-bike priced at Rs 17,000. Ludhiana based Avon Cycles and Chennai based TI cycle has also launched ebike.
Even after intense subsidies (not in India) these vehicles failed to make definite market why?
Some of their biggest minuses of these vehicles are underpowered performance, the heavy weight of batteries, which consequently drags the performance even further, poor driving range per charge of the batteries and inability to offer all the devices that gasoline/diesel powered cars offer since they will drain the battery and charge needs to be saved for the main purpose of driving the car. It lacks practicality and luxuries that gasoline powered vehicles have been able to offer.
Other problems include less availability of spare parts and qualified mechanics, bad dealer network, even though it is claimed maintenance free, problems with electrical kits often occurs. Very importantly these vehicles are priced too high for instance Reva is priced on par with a well established car like Zen estilo makes it unattractive. But the manufactures estimated that production of higher volumes of EVs will reduce the cost by 10-15%. Also larger number of regional players makes electric vehicle less reliable since prospect of the company itself uncertain. Many people questioned me about the location of availability of these bikes. The industry requires consolidation and proper marketing.
“It is estimated that India’s fossil fuel dependency on other countries currently from 70% to 82% in 2012. If we can have three lakh Electric Vehicles on the roads by 2020, including three-wheelers, cars, and scooters, this could result in a reduction of over 16 lakh metric tons of CO, NOx and HC by 2020, savings of over Rs 3,700 crore in foreign exchange and significant health costs savings”—- automonitor
If you are ready to buy an EV just read what the Indian government offers!
Government has reduced the custom duty on three of the imported components in battery operated vehicles (BOV) to 10%.Excise duty reduced on electric vehicles from 16% to 8% in 2004 budget. But the industry feels that the efforts are not sufficient.
Toyota Prius the model which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the hybrid vehicle sold globally is about Rs 10 lakh in the US. In India at current levels of duty, it could cost anywhere between Rs 20-25 lakh because of the high import duty. At present total import duty is 111% (60% on CBU imports plus countervailing duties and other levies). According to A Toyoshima, managing director, Toyota Kirloskar, the Indian government should relax the duty structure for such hybrid vehicles to promote eco-friendly technology in the country. Honda said that the new small car it plans to offer in 2009 would be a hybrid if the government makes required tax sops. If government wishes a greener future it has to take necessary actions to encourage the industry, if you want to save the earth buy an e-vehicle.
F.N: if you know any manufacturer producing electric vehicle just post it here, this will help someone.