Lu­cas TVS be­gins pro­duc­tion of mo­tors for e-rick­shaws

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Sricha­ran R

The Chen­nai-based Lu­cas TVS, a lead­ing auto com­po­nents man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, has started pro­duc­tion of elec­tric mo­tors for e-rick­shaws in its plant in Puducherry. The com­pany’s in­vest­ment will be in 2 phases to have a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 120,000 mo­tors. In the first phase it will make 60,000 units with an in­vest­ment of Rs 6 crore in ma­chin­ery and equip­ment. The com­pany plans to sup­ply to 50 cus­tomers in 6 months, “We are ready now and have sup­plied in smaller quan­ti­ties to 10-12 cus­tomers and we have set a higher tar­get to reach in the com­ing months,” Babu KSV, Busi­ness Head of e-mo­bil­ity, Ex­ports, Cool­ing So­lu­tions, Lu­cas TVS Lim­ited, said.

Lu­cas TVS was es­tab­lished in 1962 as a joint ven­ture be­tween Lu­cas Plc UK and the TVS Group. Lu­cas had started op­er­a­tions in In­dia from 1930 as Lu­cas In­dian Ser­vice for pro­vid­ing war­ranty and af­ter-sales ser­vice to many of the im­ported ve­hi­cles which car­ried Lu­cas parts. Hav­ing started with dis­tribut­ing starters and dy­namos, over the years the firm com­menced pro­vid­ing com­plete sys­tem so­lu­tions in auto elec­tri­cals, spe­cialised mo­tors for air com­pres­sors, stop-start sys­tems, en­gine cool­ing mod­ules, ig­ni­tion prod­ucts, diesel fuel in­jec­tion sys­tems etc. Lu­cas TVS de­vel­ops and in­te­grates its prod­ucts in ve­hi­cles and equip­ment from the de­sign stage and car­ries out ap­pli­ca­tion engi­neer­ing, de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vice.

The com­pany started its elec­tric mo­tor busi­ness 2 years ago.” Peo­ple are look­ing at ease of com­mut­ing and there are few ar­eas where the to­tal cost of own­er­ship can be man­aged, like elec­tric ve­hi­cles. As far as EVs are con­cerned, there is aware­ness about pol­lu­tion and there is a leg­isla­tive com­pul­sion. The three-and two-wheel­ers will go elec­tric first, as there is no need for govern­ment sub­si­dies. In the last cou­ple of years, the num­ber of elec­tric two-wheel­ers has in­creased and they are in the lower ca­pac­i­ties like 250 W or 500 W. With this, the cus­tomer misses the com­fort fac­tor and the plea­sure to drive,” Babu told Auto Com­po­nents In­dia.

For the last mile con­nec­tiv­ity e-rick­shaws with Chi­nese mo­tors have worked well in parts of west­ern In­dia and NCR re­gion. This has pro­lif­er­ated well be­cause of the low price point and low run­ning cost. One can charge these with a do­mes­tic charg­ing point. “With these in mind and based on our an­a­lysts, we iden­ti­fied these two ar­eas as hav­ing im­me­di­ate growth po­ten­tial. We de­cided to en­ter the mar­ket as a com­pe­ti­tion for the Chi­nese prod­ucts. Af­ter analysing the mar­ket po­ten­tial, we bench­marked the best in class and the cheap­est in class that are com­ing from China and we de­cided to de­velop our own prod­uct. The three pa­ram­e­ters we have in mind are the In­dian mar­ket de­mand, re­li­a­bil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity,” he said.

Lu­cas TVS has de­vel­oped the trac­tion mo­tors which will be of 1 kWh, 3 kWh and 5 kWh and will be able to power, e- rick­shaws and e-au­tos. The firm al­ready holds a cou­ple of or­ders for the e-rick­shaws. The e-auto is al­most ready and it will be taken for cus­tomer- end val­i­da­tion soon.

About the prime as­pects of the new trac­tion mo­tors and their dif­fer­ence from the Chi­nese mo­tors, Babu said, “Dur­ing the de­vel­op­men­tal stage, we did a lot of bench­marks and con­cen­trated upon two main as­pects. One is to get the max­i­mum

ef­fi­ciency and the other is to pre­pare a prod­uct for the In­dian mon­soon sit­u­a­tion. With these in mind, the prod­uct has been tested to drive in dust and wa­ter and it is IP67cer­ti­fied. An­other ma­jor as­pect was the safety of the ro­tors which has mag­nets. We came across a prob­lem of mag­net fly­ing off and spoil­ing the mo­tor. We have come out with a new set-up where the mag­nets are rigidly pro­tected in­side a cage. With a dif­fer­ent work­ing prin­ci­ple, we call this the In­te­rior Per­ma­nent Mag­net de­sign (IPM). We also have the brake en­ergy re­cu­per­a­tion tech­nol­ogy as the mo­tor and con­troller is to­gether. When you brake on a flat or down­hill road, the mo­tor acts as a gen­er­a­tor and charges the bat­tery. This can give around 15-20% of en­ergy sav­ing de­pend­ing on the road con­di­tion and brak­ing strat­egy. “

E-auto mo­tors

Lu­cas TVS is con­cen­trat­ing on the e-rick­shaws for now and it will come up with e-auto mo­tors later. The com­pany has plans to be in the elec­tric small CV and LCV seg­ments in the near fu­ture. As far as HCV is con­cerned, Babu said, they might ven­ture into the area, but only with a part­ner. They are look­ing to work along with In­dia Nip­pon Elec­tri­cals lim­ited which has strong elec­tronic com­po­nent man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to bring in new prod­ucts. “We are wait­ing to have some clar­ity from SIAM or the auto sec­tor as to what they want. Are the OEMs will­ing to out­source con­troller and mo­tor, or they want the mo­tor to our de­sign or their de­sign? Glob­ally, a few tier-I sup­pli­ers have come out with trans e-axle which has the com­plete set up of the mo­tor, con­troller, dif­fer­en­tial etc. For the OEMs, it is just plug and play. Is this that the mar­ket needs? It is not clear and we are wait­ing to see what hap­pens,” he said.

Babu said there were many en­quiries from coun­tries in the SAARC re­gion. The com­pany may take them in a small man­ner in the first quar­ter and look for con­crete ac­tions from the sec­ond or third quar­ter.

Light weight­ing

Lu­cas TVS is fo­cus­ing on light weight­ing. This is done by mak­ing changes in the prod­uct de­sign as has been done for the wiper mo­tor, whose weight was re­duced by 40%. This helps re­duce the pas­sen­ger car weight. Sim­i­larly, in trac­tion mo­tors, the com­pany is fo­cus­ing on keep­ing the metal con­tent. It is also look­ing at other pos­si­ble ways to re­duce the weight with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the per­for­mance.

Shar­ing his views on the size of the bat­tery, Babu said, “If you can op­ti­mise the de­sign of the mo­tor and the con­troller they can be de­signed in such a way that max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency is achieved at the op­er­at­ing zone. If you drive at 30-40 km and gen­er­ate the best ef­fi­ciency at this level, it will help lower the en­ergy con­sump­tion. The bat­tery size de­pends on two things. One, how much power it needs and two, how long it runs. Most of the two-wheel­ers and three-wheel­ers are look­ing for 80-100 km as a range. If the mo­tor is ef­fi­cient to that ex­tent, one can re­duce the size. For ex­am­ple, if you can in­crease the mo­tor ef­fi­ciency by 10%, you can re­duce the bat­tery size by 10%. That is how it works.”

R&D

Around 2 years of hard work has gone to bring in the trac­tion mo­tor prod­uct. The re­search and de­vel­op­ment depart­ment here holds an ad­vanced engi­neer­ing depart­ment with around 80-90 peo­ple. The team takes care of sev­eral prod­ucts. For the EV do­main, there are around 10-12 peo­ple who are ex­clu­sively work­ing for it. There are also some com­mon re­sources, like sim­u­la­tion which are done by spe­cial­ists.

Elec­tric mo­tor man­u­fac­tured by Lu­cas TVS is fit­ted in an e-rick­shaw

Bat­tery pack and con­troller for e-rick­shaws

Babu KSV, Busi­ness Head of e-mo­bil­ity, Ex­ports, Cool­ing So­lu­tions, Lu­cas TVS Lim­ited

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