June 2019: Monthly Electric Vehicle News Roundup

1.Ban on ICE powered three wheelers – Niti Aayog proposal

India is on fast track to adopt Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Rs. 10000 crore is earmarked for EV infrastructure development and to provide incentives for EV manufacturing under FAME II scheme. Niti Aayog, the Government’s think tank has proposed a ban on three wheelers operating on Internal combustion engines (ICE) in next three years. Given that three wheelers are mostly used for commercial purposes, their availability, affordability, after sales services are concerning factors besides the range anxiety concerns. To make this ICE to electric transition viable, smooth, a mere ban may not be enough but an organized, coordinated effort may be needed.

Electric Car Charging Station
Electric Car Charging Station, Image Credit: greencleanguide.com

2. More than 2.5 times rise in Mahindra EV sales

The orders for the tenders floated by Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) for 10,000 electric sedans for government departments was bagged by Tata Motors, M&M. Riding on the second phase of the orders, the EV sales of M&M grew over 2.5 times in 2018-19. M&M last year added to its EV portfolio electric three wheelers Treo and Treo Yaari. According to M&M, Rs. 10,000 crores FAME II scheme would be beneficial for its EV portfolio and its Treo and e-Supro cargo have already qualified for the benefits.

3. Bajaj Auto’s first electric scooter

Bajaj Auto’s first electric scooter would be launched in a few months from now under the Bajaj Urbanite brand. The company is currently testing the advanced prototype of the electric scooter. While this would be the first Electric scooter under the Urbanite brand, more such EV products including e-bikes are expected. With this soon to be launched Urbanite vertical the company will have five separate verticals – Motorcycles, Pro-Biking, Commercial vehicles, Exports, Urbanite.

4. EV scheme for Doorstep delivery industry – Delhi government

With more and more goods getting delivered at people’s doorstep and in an attempt to curb air pollution and promote green mobility, Delhi government is planning to launch an EV scheme for the app-based doorstep delivery industry to shift to EVs. If approved, this would be part of the Delhi EV policy 2018, which is in its final stages. Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi, DDCD collaborated with Rocky Mountain Institute a non-profit group to ideate many more such policies. The selected ideas are planned to be discussed and piloted on ground.

5. Ather raised $51Mn investment

In the latest round of funding, Ather Energy, the Electric two wheeler maker has raised $51 Mn investment where Sachin Bansal Flipkart cofounder has poured $32 Mn, Hero MotorCorp has converted $19 Mn convertible debt and InnoVen Capital extended $8 Mn venture debt. With the funds, the Bengaluru based company plans to enter an expansion phase and has lined Chennai as next city for operations. It also has plans to set a manufacturing facility capable of making 1 Mn vehicles yearly besides setting up Ather Grid charging points over next 5 years.

6. An Electric Car from Maruti Next year – a possibility

Maruti Suzuki is evaluating the launch of small electric car next year. The company is currently testing fifty electric WagonRs. According to chairman RC Bhargava, the launch however will depend on the buyers’ willingness to pay more for the electric versions. Though the tax on EVs are lower than the Internal combustion engine powered vehicles, inadequate parking and charging infrastructure are critical for mass adoption of EVs. Previously Maruti Suzuki had announced plans of launching small EVs at affordable price and last year it had conducted market survey to gauge customer requirements.

7. Complete Switch to electric 2, 3 wheelers – Niti Aayog proposal

NITI Aayog, the government’s think tank has suggested a complete switch to electric 2, 3 wheelers in India in phased manner from March 2023 and proposed ban on sales of ICE 3 wheelers. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has been given responsibility of ensuring no sales of those vehicles from April 2023. Doubling the subsidy for electric 3 wheelers is also proposed. Government is also considering introduction of comprehensive scrapping policy and a polluter pays model to encourage EV purchase. Initiatives are also in progress to improve EV charging infrastructure and there is a plan to develop own standards for EV charging stations, which is expected to reduce the cost of charging stations establishment.

8. Indigenous EV charging station norms for India

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Department of Science and Technology (DST) come together to make an indigenous charging standard for India. Currently Japanese, Chinese, European are the three acceptable global standards. With indigenous standards under development, which would cater to light, medium and heavy EVs, the cost of establishing EV charging stations are expected to reduce. Under FAME scheme, the government has already earmarked 1000 crores for EV charging stations.

9. Ola Electric to focus on 2, 3 wheeler EVs and Charging

Arun Sarin, the former CEO of Vodafone Group, an investor in Ola Electric’s parent company ANI Technologies appointed to Ola Electric’s board said Ola Electric would focus initially on two and three wheeler EVs while ensuring easier charging. In March 2019, Ola Electric Mobility was set as an independent entity with primary focus on deploying charging and battery swapping networks in the commercial EV segment. Ola’s pilot EV project which got tanked due to dissatisfaction of drivers owing to long wait times for charging seems to have influenced Ola’s vision for making recharging easier.

10. Volkswagen’s I.D.R smashes record at Germany’s famous Nurburgring

Volkswagen’s all electric racecar I.D. R built to compete in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, completed the Germany’s famous Nurburgring Nordschleife loop 40 seconds faster than the previous record set by Chinese EV NIO’s EP9 supercar in 2017. NIO’s time was good enough to hold the record for all-electric at Nurburgring until I.D.R’s impressive run of 6:05.336 minutes. The fastest run however still belongs to Porsche which lapped Nordschleife in 5:19.55 minutes. The I.D. R team acknowledged that attempts to beat Porsche could be hampered by battery limitations. It’s notable that the Volkswagen Group is spending billions to shift to electric fleet and its Audi and Porsche are competing in the Formula E, all electric racing.

11. Shortage of charging points forces EV owners to risk charging from home mains

A survey of 1500 EV owners by Electrical Safety First revealed that shortage of public charging points has forced them to use domestic multi socket extension leads to charge from mains in their homes, despite being aware that they should not be used outdoors due to risk of electrocution, fire. An analysis has revealed that increase in licensed plug in vehicles is almost 6 times more than the public charging points in UK. As per a Department of Transport spokesperson, there is continuous acceleration in growth of infrastructure through various initiatives. Electrical Safety First urges users to utilize the government grant to fund safer, specially designed home charging point instead of charging from mains.

12. EV owners of Illinois to pay $248 annual registration fees

Gas tax in Illinois is the main source for funding road improvements. Because EV s don’t use gas, to compensate state gas tax revenue loss, Illinois EV owners will have to pay annual registration fees of $248 from next year instead of the current $17.50 per year fees. This is $100 more than what gas burning car owners pay. Plug in electric hybrids and hybrids are not included in this. Earlier there was a proposal to increase the EV registration to $1000 which met with pushback from EV manufacturers, owners. Electric truck startup Rivian which is to begin production in its IL factory feels $248 annual registration fees to be reasonable compared to $1000 proposed.

13. In Saskatchewan, EV sales double

As per data from Electric Mobility Canada, sales of EV in Saskatchewan have doubled. Matthew Pointer, Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association founder expects the Q2 sales to be close to doubling again and feels people are starting to take advantage of the $5000 federal rebate for EVs.  The rebates were applicable to cars costing less than $45000 but Ottawa raised it to $55000 to provide buyers more options. While more fast charging infrastructures are coming up, addition of high speed charging stations on the highways, introduction of stackable purchase incentives from the provincial government are expected to increase the EV numbers.

14. KTM and Bajaj decide on new production project for 2 Wheeler EV

Bajaj Auto Ltd and KTM Industries AG, the European motorcycle maker has decided to start a serial production project for 2 wheeler EVs in range of 3 to 10 KW. This would include scooters, mopeds, small mopeds under both the partner brands. This production is expected to begin by 2022 at Bajaj’s Pune site. Contrary to the initial estimates, the market in Europe has developed very well and KTM has increased its market share in Germany, France and Spain in addition to 30% sales rise across India.

15. Lack of proper infrastructure forces EV owners to use dangerous charging methods

Infrastructure for EV charging is one of the biggest cruxes preventing mass adoption of EVs in UK. A study by Electrical Safety First reveals EV owners to be dangerously charging their vehicles owing to lack of proper infrastructure. The analysis has found vehicle numbers to grow six times faster than the increase in charging point locations. Another issue is the density of the charging points where some areas have more points compared to others. Electrical Safety First urges government and local authorities to ensure better infrastructure to support the rapidly growing EV numbers. Warning users against dangerous charging ways, it recommends taking advantage of Government’s grant scheme towards cost of specially designed home charging point.

16. IIT Delhi inaugurated CART

With a vision to become a recognized centre for teaching, research and technological service worldwide, IIT Delhi inaugurated CART, Centre for Automotive Research and Tribology. Its focused research area would include design, development, analysis of EV motors, drives, optimal design and sizing of battery pack, EV chargers, powertrain, Battery Management system development, automotive health monitoring. According to Prof. B.K. Panigrahi first head of CART, the prime focus would be to carry interdisciplinary research in EV and related areas. A unique mandate of CART is one-third of its faculty would be adjunct with current industry affiliation.

17. NIO’s patent applications divulge ambitious plans for electric vehicles

NIO, with its recent patent applications has lot of ideas to improve EV technology. A recently filed patent application reveals a way to charge a EV up to 800 V. The Chinese automaker isn’t the only one looking at this; Porsche back in 2016 had confirmed that this technology promised great potential.  The more ambitious NIO has applied for patents for technology of autonomous vehicles and also to increase battery life. At this point, it is not very clear what NIO plans to do with all the patent ideas. It is understood that companies file patent technologies that they do not commercially produce, but NIO has been working on new EV models and everyone is watching with lot of interest.

18. Ashok Leyland invites Elon’s India dream

Over the past couple of years, Elon Musk has been showing sporadic interest but unable to take the next big step to invest in Indian market. This has an open invitation with a bid for partnership from Ashok Leyland. Leyland’s top brass believes that there will be multiple agencies who will be part of this to contribute to Musk’s offer. With innovation, technology adoption and strong financial outlook Leyland believes they and their customers would be able to make more money. Breaking his silence over 10 months, Musk definitely believes he would be in India this year or next. Tesla is expected to enter the Indian market with model 3 that sells at $35,000.

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