Ashok Ley­land works on new con­cepts to cut elec­tric ve­hi­cle cost

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

Ashok Ley­land (AL), the Hin­duja Group flag­ship com­pany, plans to make its light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles (LCVs) elec­tric, fol­lowed by buses. Last year the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle ma­jor in­tro­duced its first ‘Made in In­dia’ elec­tric bus, `Cir­cuit’, that can travel up to 120 km on a sin­gle charge un­der stan­dard test con­di­tions.

Ashok Ley­land has a strate­gic al­liance with the elec­tric ve­hi­cle (EV) ma­jor SUN Mo­bil­ity to drive for­ward its EV seg­ment plans. The part­ner­ship is crit­i­cal to its goal of achiev­ing more than 10% of rev­enue from EV sales by 2020, since it will give the com­pany ac­cess to swap-and-charge bat­tery tech­nolo­gies.

Speak­ing to Au­toCom­po­nentsIn­dia, Ashok Ley­land’s Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer, Dr Seshu Bha­ga­vathula said, “The in­dus­try is in a tur­moil right now. Big things are tak­ing place in the pow­er­train in­dus­try. As a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle player, we will be ready with the elec­tric LCVs in 2 years. We are work­ing on charg­ing and swap­ping of bat­ter­ies. In In­dia the big­gest chal­lenge is the elec­tric ve­hi­cle cost, which is at a higher side. There­fore, we are look­ing at de­cou­pling the life cy­cle of the bat­tery and the ve­hi­cle. If you de­cou­ple them in such a way, the ve­hi­cle and the bat­tery will be bought sep­a­rately. When you buy or lease the bat­tery, the ini­tial cost will be the same as a diesel ve­hi­cle. But the leas­ing works only when the vol­ume is high.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bha­ga­vathula, by the end of 2019, all the state gov­ern­ments in In­dia will send fu­ture ten­ders only for Elec­tric Ve­hi­cles for ur­ban trans­port. This idea is based on the fact that most of the buses run around 30 to 35 km and come back to the de­pot. In 15 min­utes it may not be pos­si­ble to recharge the 350-400 kg bat­ter­ies needed for the 30-35 km run but they can be swapped with pre-charged bat­ter­ies in a few min­utes. Ini­tially there will be con­fu­sion re­gard­ing the charg­ing and swap­ping of bat­ter­ies as there should be well­main­tained de­pots to sup­port ro­bots and high-end charg­ers for bat­ter­ies and sus­tain­able charg­ing points etc., There should also be ef­fi­cient and dif­fer­ent con­nec­tors be­tween the bat­tery and the ve­hi­cle. Any mis­take may lead to ex­plo­sion. But these is­sues can be re­solved grad­u­ally and sys­tem­at­i­cally and through per­fect han­dling.

“If you wait for the bat­tery prices to come down, it will take many years. For In­dia, I think there is no other way, we will have to make the mis­takes and the gov­ern­ment has to

push some kind of safety stan­dards across the in­dus­try. If we are not do­ing it, there will be a big is­sue. We have to learn the tech­niques to avoid mis­takes,” he ex­plained.

All types of light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, even the 5 or 7 tonne, can be man­aged well through bat­ter­ies, says the CTO. Be­yond which hy­dro­gen fuel cells will play a ma­jor role. Fuel cells do not meet the torque re­quire­ments that are needed by trucks and other CVs but they work well with slow-speed ve­hi­cles. Range may not be the is­sue but the avail­abil­ity of hy­dro­gen cylin­ders on the high­ways will be. Re­place­ment of the fuel cells will be easy, but their cost could be ex­or­bi­tant. Go­ing for­ward it will be a com­bi­na­tion of fuel cells and bat­ter­ies for trucks. The OEMs are work­ing on these lines, Bha­ga­vathula said.

Ashok Ley­land is ready with elec­tric bus and it will be ready with e-LCVs. The com­pany is also hav­ing a clear roadmap for larger emis­sion-free ve­hi­cles. It is also con­sid­er­ing fuel cells for medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. Like all the OEMs, Ashok Ley­land is also fac­ing the heat in the elec­tric ve­hi­cles in terms of cost of the ag­gre­gates.

“To­day, the lithium-ion NMC (Nickel Man­ganese Cobolt) bat­ter­ies are the best in the world in terms of tech­nol­ogy be­cause they of­fer best en­ergy den­sity (kW/$) and vol­ume-met­ric den­sity (kW/kilo), which are the 2 pa­ram­e­ters that peo­ple talk about and de­cide ev­ery­thing. We can bring elec­tric ve­hi­cles im­me­di­ately, but the mar­ket is not ready yet. Once swap­ping be­comes phe­nom­e­nal then sim­i­lar tech­nolo­gies can be fol­lowed in man­u­fac­tur­ing. The gov­ern­ment, af­ter com­ing up with the swap­ping of bat­ter­ies for buses, will also step into LCVs. From a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle player, LCVs are go­ing to be elec­tri­fied first, which will have a range of 50-100 km, fol­lowed by medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles along with fuel cells. All our ve­hi­cles will come with lithium-ion bat­ter­ies. To start with we have 2-3 con­cepts for bat­tery packs and we also ex­pect that some of the estab­lished tier play­ers will of­fer bat­tery packs at a com­pet­i­tive price. For fuel cells the tech­nol­ogy is ready but it is very ex­pen­sive. Bat­ter­ies have come to a level where peo­ple now be­lieve that the prices will come down. By 2020, the world can see the pos­i­tive ef­fect of bat­tery-run­ning ve­hi­cles. The com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments will be more bolder by then as enough ex­pe­ri­ences will be gained in this seg­ment,” signed off Bha­ga­vathula.

Ashok Ley­land show­cased the pro­to­type of e-Dost and e-Boss (be­low) in 2015.

e-Boss has a 10T GVW

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.