Electric Vehicles: Global Trends & India’s Imperatives

Kashyap Avashia, Principal & CEO (Mentor Trust) at IvyCap Ventures

Kashyap Avashia, Principal & CEO (Mentor Trust) at IvyCap Ventures

As part of our regular Mentor Call series, Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor at IIT (Madras)and a renowned subject matter expert on Electric Vehicles (EV), shared his thoughts on how India can define and execute her EV strategy. Given below are the salient features of the discussion:

  • There has been a strong interest in EVs in India in order to address the challenges of deteriorating air quality and heavy dependence on oil imports.
  • However, there are a few bottlenecks for switching to EVs such as battery cost (primarily due to its weight and size) as well as charging infrastructure.
  • The bottlenecks are likely to be addressed with improvements/increase in energy density, innovative approaches, or even increased usage of hydrogen fuel, etc. but it can take time for it to become economically viable.
  • Globally, the focus at present is on large and long-range vehicles with fast charging capabilities.
  • However, India’s auto market is different from most of the world in that it consists predominantly of small (two and three-wheelers) and affordable (economy cars) vehicles.
  • India can focus on attaining leadership in designing and developing affordable vehicles as per our market requirements mentioned above, increasing energy efficiency (and thus driving battery size/weight/cost down), and adopt a few approaches as follows as part of its EV strategy:

Approach I: Make public transport more affordable by splitting battery into smaller sizes and swapping. Thus, separate vehicle business (without battery) from energy business (battery swapping/energy operator who leases charged batteries). The swapped battery can be charged in a conditioned environment (i.e., slow charging), increasing its life.

Approach II: For private (2W/4W) vehicles, use two small battery slots. One for a fixed low-cost limited range battery (e.g., for regular/city driving) and the other for a swappable range-extension battery at an energy operator.

Approach III: Conventional approach to choose the right size batteries for the desired range.

  • While the grid may be able to handle slow charging, appropriate pricing and usage strategies may be helpful in our attempt to manage peak requirements for fast charging.
  • India needs to design and manufacture sub-systems indigenously and import relevant materials (e.g., used Li-Ion batteries) with a view to becoming the urban-mining capital of the world.
  • To conclude, it is possible to make affordable 2W/3W EVs in India (and 4W will follow) though time is of the essence for India to take the lead in designing, developing, and manufacturing full EV drive-train locally.

This article is part of the IvyScope Issue November 2021 click here to view the Newsletter.

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