Current EV Policies

A Guide for Mechanical Engineers who want to enter into the Electric Vehicle industry.

If you’re from the Mechanical Engineering stream and want to participate in the Electric Vehicle industry, this article discusses some of the proven ways in doing so.

In the world today, it pays to have a skill that you know really well – this could be a technical skill like circuit board design, or a managerial skill like turning the performance of a company around.

The first thing to do is see what in your current skill-set applies to Electric Vehicles. Here are a few examples –

  • Companies want to create smarter, more connected vehicles. An understanding of the relationship between sensor data and actuators is needed.
  • Housing of various Electrical sub-components for resistance against vibration and Electro-magnetic interference.
  • Wiring and wire harnesses that connect the various powertrain components of an EV.

The second important aspect is Thermals. Instead of a lot of moving mechanical parts, in the EV powertrain there is a dominance of power electronics, low voltage electronics and firmware. Most of the heat generation happens in the power electronics section, and that heat needs to be regulated. There is a huge amount of innovation that needs to be done here to efficiently use waste heat to warm up the cabin, or to heat up the Battery pack to its optimal temperature if need be. This will ensure that the EV powertrain sub-components not only operate at the optimal temperature, but also squeeze the last bit of efficiency from the system.

The third is about expanding your knowledge in the field of Mechatronics. You bring something very valuable to the table coming from the field of Mechanical Engineering, and with the clarity of concepts in Electronics and basic firmware you can master the art of creating devices that sit at the intersection of these three. Here are some examples of such devices that you can create with this knowledge – pyrotechnic fuses, high voltage contactors. These devices are critical safety components that are necessary inside an EV Battery pack.

This article summarises just a few ways in which Mechanical Engineering skills are in demand even in the EV industry. The next batch of our Electric Vehicle Foundations course will be launching soon. You can learn more about the upcoming batch here.

How to define a green mobility roadmap for India for two wheelers

At present we need to quickly reach the point of inflexion from where on the E-mobility will take off by itself. The products and technologies that are already on the ground need to be promoted in a big way so that the critical mass of say 2 to 3 million EVs is achieved. That volume will by itself solve many issues. That will trigger make in India, spread enough awareness and get the large players interested into EV business.  Following are few steps recommended for E-2 wheelers

  • Do not disrupt the present adoption pattern of low speed two wheelers. As per our estimate around 40% of the sales of these 2Ws are referrals or repeat which surely are signs of a customer satisfied with the product and for the money that he paid.
  • Announce a sunset clause of 2 million/3 years for the lead batteries E2Ws. In Parallel announce incentives and measures to shift the buyer from a low speed lead to a low speed/ mid speed (~45km/hr like city speed) lithium battery E2W.
  • Provide catalysts like preferential financing, E-commerce mandated conversion, promoting E-taxis etc for accelerated growth.
  • Continually streamline the CMVR certification process and RO registration system to constantly improve the products already being sold.
  • Do not burn too much money in incentivizing a E2W performing similar to the petrol Scooter. The purchase price (despite big subsidy) as well as the running cost of such a product will be much more than a mid speed E2W and may even be as much as a petrol 2W causing a huge setback in mass conversion to E- Mobility.

Will EESL’s(Energy Efficiency Services Ltd India) initiative of putting 1 lac electric cars on the roads fall flat on face?

As per EESL, the Indian government alone has demand for half a million electric vehicles. Switching these (to electric vehicles) will stimulate demand and initiate market transformation.

EESL has agreed to invest close to Rs. 10,000 crore in the state and has also pledged to manufacture over 1 lakh electric vehicles over the next 5 years.This also includes 4,000 electric chargers for various departments.

Looks good, but there may be lots of loose ends. Affordable E cars with performance similar to the fuel cars are perhaps most difficult to produce because of the cost of the batteries that is still very high but likely to go down in 3 to 5 years. Government pool cars unless dedicated to senior officials are usually overused and not very well maintained. In the case of the govt pool cars, many of the E cars may therefore not substitute the fuel cars as there would always be a tendency to send the diesel cars for long routes and reserve the E cars for short errands. Senior officials carry the cars home and may not have access to overnight charging. Range limitations and load carrying capacity may be serious impediments for adoption. The charging stations would probably be installed inside the office campuses and therefore not available for public use.

The country needs to think what is India specific solution and not ape the west. Catalysing large scale adoption of E-two-wheelers would be faster, easier and more impactful and much less drain on the government resources.

Lack of clarity spurs concern on Indian electric vehicles?

Head of electric vehicle association says group is “quite confused and we are seeking clarification from the government”

Rebecca Bundhun- The National, Updated: February 17, 2018 05:16 PM

Sohinder Gill, the director of corporate affairs at the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), which represents Indian electric vehicle (EV) and electric vehicle components makers, talks to The National about his concerns for the development of the electric transportation sector in India.

India’s road transport minister has been reported as saying that there is no need for an electric vehicle policy. What is your reaction to this?

Frankly, as an association, we are quite confused and we are seeking clarification from the government because we heard them say that India wants to go for zero emissions mobility, so we fail to understand why this lack of focus is there on electric vehicles now.

Why do you think the minister Nitin Gadkari said this?

Mr Gadkari said that electric cars are not yet ready, but there are products in India which have been ready for the last six years and are already on the road, generally two-wheelers and three-wheelers, for which no such waiting period is required. There are more than 500,000 electric two-wheelers on the road. [Mr Gadkari’s position] is a setback.

What will SMEV do now?

We need to get clarification from the ministers or if required from the prime minister on which sort of direction the industry should take on investments and action.

How will this impact car manufacturers?

Mahindra and Tata are the ones that are ready and they’ve been investing. Whether they will be left alone without subsidies or incentives, no one really knows. All we are expecting is at least the current incentive scheme will continue as it is. If that happens it’s a bit of saving grace for the existing players. Otherwise the industry’s going to collapse.

What do you think the government might do next in this sector?

They perhaps have other options available. India is a country is very keen to do alternate fuels which is understandable because India can produce ethanol. Similarly, [multinational corporations] say that hybrids is the right answer, so all that might be why there’s a reconsideration.

What other effects might arise?

Already people were sitting on the fence and were not investing, so this is going to create another question mark. Also, so many companies were making losses and they were seeking investors and start-ups were getting a lot of money from investors and bigger electric vehicle companies were getting investment. Those investors are going to be shy of investing into India until the policy is clear.

Indian EV mission – Many voices, Many directions

The EV mission is currently in a flux, caught between the politics, bureaucracy and the industry. On more than one occasion, the ministers have reportedly talking of withdrawing subsidy, citing 12% GST(against 28% of IC engine vehicles) as incentive enough for EV proliferation. The bureaucracy is in a tussle on who would be the guardian of the EV mission. The Industry obviously is trying best to protect its interest and many companies are pushing their own agenda of hybrids vs electric, lead vs lithium, pvt vs public usage of EVs. Some of the churning is essential and obvious however the worst sufferers seem to be the industry players who have already launched their vehicles based on the indication of the likely course of the EV mission in the form of FAME2.

As an example, if lead battery vehicles are suddenly removed from the subsidy, the electric two wheeler businesses will surely collapse as 97% of their bikes are on lead. Similarly if Hybrids make a re-entry, the E-Cars in all probability take a back seat as OEMs will rather focus on an easier route than trying to make and sell E Cars. Charging vs swapping is another hot debate for 2/3 wheelers and buses with each faction claiming its suitability to indian conditions.

Perhaps only FAME2 of the EV mission, expected in April will set to rest the doubts and the debates that are erupting into every discussion that take place so often.

EVs not for india- loss of huge revenue from taxes?

It is true that one of the main source of revenue of indian govt is taxes on petrol and diesel. Currently central and state govt gets around Rs.35 and Rs.25 per litre of taxes in petrol and diesel and any significant drop in consumption will reduce the  govt tax kitty substantially. On the other side side is the benefit of reducing the burden of foreign exchange outflow hovering around 100billion dollar (6.5 lac crore) a year. Between the two options it’ll be prudent for the govt to cut import bill as there are alternates available to bridge the gap of drop in taxes due to reduced consumption.

Will petrol prices nosedive if electric mobility takes off in a big way?

Some forecasts that by 2025 one petrol and bottled mineral water may cost the same. We feel it is not likely. In the last 3 years the new exploration on crude oil drilling has reduced considerably because of the softening of crude prices. The consumption of crude oil and China and India is no way ebbing. Our forecast is that in the medium term, the crude prices may somewhat harden and that may rejuvenate the investments in drilling unless the electric mobility takes off sharply and thats is unlikely. we therefore forecast a 3 to 4 years cyclic movement in the crude prices in the next 10 years.

However in the long run crude oil pricing is expected to remain subdued, the caveat being the availability / price control of lithium or an alternate battery technology. The geo-political play out therefore becomes important in forecasting crude oil or lithium battery pricing and it is anybody’d guess whether China will largely control lithium deposits and therefore command the pricing or US will slowdown electric because they have shale gas and oil reserves.

Has FAME1 been an utter failure?

Not exactly. No doubt that FAME 1 has achieved less than 5% of the targets on the EV volumes and ECO system creation. Perhaps the FAME 1 targets were too ambitious. There is a strong resistance and inertia of almost all the automobile manufacturers in India to convert to electric and they did not bite the bullet. One of the car manufacturer did sell a substantial number of mild Hybrids (that was a part of the FAME1 scheme) till the mild Hybrids were withdrawn from FAME1 scheme because it was taking away a lions share of subsidy but had negligible impact it was having on the end goals

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