A recent study by global financial services company UBS predicts that one out of every six cars sold anywhere in the world will be electric by 2025. “The shift to electric cars will come faster and in a more pronounced way, fueled by the diesel demise in Europe, battery technology advancements and regulation in China and Europe,” prophesied the report. While it might be an overly optimistic take on what the future of electric vehicles might look like, one cannot overlook the massive strides the industry has made in the last decade or so. In India, despite a myriad of challenges and obstacles, EVs are steadily gaining traction, thanks in part to favourable government policies and the entry of international players like Honda, Suzuki and now Hyundai.
Coming to developments that took place over the past week, the Indian government has approved the use of digital payments for charging of electric vehicles. Tata Motors has announced a much-awaited partnership with Jayem Auto to launch Nano EV, under the name of Jayem Neo. Ola is eyeing an alliance with Tata, while rival Uber has already inked a collaboration with Mahindra to launch electric cars in Delhi/NCR and Hyderabad.
Given that so much has been happening in the country’s electric vehicle sector, we bring to you the second edition of the weekly EV roundups.
Let’s take a look at the recent developments in the world of electric vehicles:
Tata Motors Teams Up With Jayem Auto To Launch Nano EV; Ola To Join In
Tata Motors has announced a partnership with Coimbatore-headquartered Jayem Auto to launch an EV version of Tata Nano. Dubbed as Jayem Neo, the car is said to boast a range of 150 km with air-conditioning. As part of the alliance, Tata will reportedly be supplying the chassis and body shells of these electric vehicles.
The core electric drive system and powertrain are being developed by a technology company called Electra EV. According to sources, the 48-volt electric car will ultimately be assembled and marketed by Jayem Auto. In a related development, homegrown cab aggregator Ola is looking to forge a collaboration with Tata Motors, with the aim of deploying Jayem Neo on its fleet in Delhi/NCR by the end of 2017.
Tata Motors has been dabbling with EVs for some time now. The Nano EV concept car, for instance, was showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010. Even before news of Tata’s partnership with Jayem surfaced, the Mumbai-headquartered company reportedly begun testing its Nano Electric Vehicle in Coimbatore in August this year, in the presence of Chairman Emeritus Ratan N Tata.
Mahindra And Mahindra To Launch Electric Vehicles On Uber Platform
After joining hands with Zoomcar to bring EVs to Mysuru, the country’s electric vehicles manufacturer has forged an alliance with ride-sharing startup Uber. As per reports, the aim of the partnership is to deploy hundreds of Mahindra’s electric hatchback e2oPlus and electric sedan eVerito on the cab aggregator’s platform in New Delhi and Hyderabad.
Confirming the development, Mahindra MD Pawan Goenka said, “As pioneers of electric vehicles in the country, we would like to be at the forefront, leading this charge towards smart and sustainable mobility.”
In addition to supplying the electric vehicles at competitive prices, Mahindra will be providing insurance, maintenance and financing services to Uber and other companies that are part of the alliance. As per the terms of the deal, Uber and Mahindra will collaborate with other public as well as private entities to set up common-use charging stations in major cities across the country.
Govt. Permits Digital Payments For Charging Of Electric Vehicles
In a bid to ensure fast and smooth adoption of electric vehicles, the Government of India has announced that users will be allowed to pay for the charging of EVs through digital payments solutions as BHIM app and Bharat QR Code.
As per sources, the decision has been made based on the suggestions put forward by the Committee for Standardisation of the Protocol for Charging Infrastructure. In a report submitted in May this year, the panel had said, “The customers need to be billed for the charging and payments need to be made. There are multiple options, including debiting the user’s account based on VIN (vehicle identification number). Direct debiting the funds to user’s equipment based on VIN will be adopted.”
“Alternately, a mobile application to be defined, which allows a user to charge using BHIM or Bharat QR code or other digital payment schemes specified by Indian Government, to be used both for AC (alternating current) as well as DC (direct current) chargers,” added the report.
Gujarat Clocks Highest EV Sales, Followed By West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh
Gujarat, WB, UP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have emerged as the frontrunners of the burgeoning electric vehicle race. According to a report by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), these five states clocked the highest number of EV sales during FY2016-17.
As per the findings of the study, Gujarat topped the list with sales of just over 4,330 units. WB appeared in the second place with sales of 2,846 units, followed by UP which sold a total of 2,467 electric vehicles during the said period. Rajasthan reported sales of around 2,388 EV units, while Maharashtra came in fifth with sales of 1,926 units.
Delhi, which topped the list in the previous year, dropped to the 7th position with only 1,072 e-vehicles sold. Of the total EVs sold in the last fiscal year, nearly 92% were two-wheelers, while four-wheelers accounted for less than 8% of the total sales. Compared to the 37.5% jump in sales recorded during FY16, the fiscal year ending in March 2017 saw a mere 13.6% increase in EV sales.
Government Approves Standardisation Of EV Charging Stations
The Indian government has reportedly approved the standardisation of electric vehicle charging stations, on the basis of suggestions made by the Committee for Standardisation of the Protocol for Charging Infrastructure.
Headed by former Adviser to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the panel has recommended uniform standards for charging stations, in order to ensure that they are compatible with different models of electric vehicles manufactured by different companies.
The two models of the Bharat Public EV Charger that have been approved for installation across the country are Bharat EV Charger AC-001 and Bharat EV Charger DC-001. In addition to integrating grid responsive billing, the committee called for metering of EV charging as per units consumed by each vehicle.
Mahindra To Launch Two New Models Of EVs By 2019
The Mumbai-headquartered automotive giant has announced plans to launch two new models of electric vehicles in India soon. As per reports, the company sold a total of 600 electric cars in the first seven months of this year. Mahindra is currently in the process of developing an EV version of its micro SUV KUV100, which will be launched sometime in the next 12 months.
The second model, which will be available commercially by 2019, is being built by Mahindra-owned Italian premium car design firm Pininfarina. Speaking about the company’s future plans, Mahindra MD Pawan Goenka recently said, “Our first new electric car will come by 2018 and the second one will be launched by the end of 2019 and we are very excited for both.”
To realise its electric mobility goals, Mahindra has also committed over $92.7 Mn (INR 600 Cr), which will be invested over the course of three years. As stated by Goenka, these two new EV models will be produced at the company’s plant in Bengaluru.
Hyundai To Enter Indian EV Market With Ioniq
In line with the government’s mission to switch to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, South Korean automobile company Hyundai has announced that it will be introducing its EV brand Ioniq in India soon. As per sources, the company is gearing up to showcase the electric car at the upcoming Auto Expo, which will be held in Delhi in February 2018.
Hyundai currently sells Ioniq in the US, Europe and East Asia. Commenting on the development, Rakesh Srivastava, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyundai Motor India said, “We will bring electric cars to India and will meet the timeline given by the Union government. Hyundai has the technology required for electric vehicles so we will bring them in all the segments we are present.”
BMW Looks To Tie Up With Other Companies To Develop Small Electric Cars
Coming to international news, German automaker BMW is reportedly eyeing partnerships with companies across the globe to develop mini electric cars of the future. The move is aimed at lowering the cost of manufacturing EVs by teaming up local enterprises.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Management Board Member of BMW AG, recently told Reuters, “We are talking to many OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, not only in China, (about) how to electrify smaller cars. There’s no final conclusion on it.”
In China, it is currently in the middle of discussions with Great Wall Motor Co about a potential collaboration to build small electric vehicles. At present, BMW does not produce small EVs out of Europe, mainly because of high manufacturing costs. If talks fructify, BMW will be launching a new electric MINI model by 2019. During the interaction with Reuters, Peter also revealed the company’s plans to someday turn MINI into an entirely electric brand.
India And The UK To Sign MoU With Focus On The Urban Transport Sector
The governments of India and the UK will reportedly be inking a pact of cooperation in terms of policy planning, technology transfer as well as institutional organisation, with the aim of driving growth and development in the urban transport sector. To that end, the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and the UK government’s Transport Secretary Chris Grayling sat down in London a couple of days ago to draft a memorandum of understanding on the same.
As stated by Gadkari, the collaboration is expected to help transform the transport space through the integration of more advanced customer service/data analysis as well as better use of IT systems. With assistance from the UK government, India is also looking to expedite the adoption of electric vehicles in India.
Govt. Needs To Spend $100 Bn On Battery Factories: Report
According to a recent report by think tank NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute, for the government’s electric mobility dream to come true, it will have to make provision for a robust and competitive battery manufacturing supply chain.
As per the study, to be able to switch to 100% electric vehicles, India will need a minimum of 20 gigafactories to product batteries at a total investment of $100 Bn. Stating the challenges that need to be overcome, the report said, “Due to the uncoordinated efforts by different stakeholder groups and the relatively nascent stage of battery manufacturing in India, investment risks in this sector are considered to be high.”
“India does not have reserves of some of the most important Li-ion components, including lithium, cobalt, nickel or for that matter the copper used in conductors, cables and busbars. In order to achieve large-scale domestic production of EV batteries, India would likely need to forge international partnerships and ventures to secure access to key minerals in line with its battery technology and roadmap,” added the report.
Volkswagen Commits $41 Bn Investment In Battery-Powered Cars
To take on competitor Tesla, German automobile company Volkswagen has announced that it will be adopting a long-term strategy centred around battery-powered cars. To realise this goal, the carmaker has committed a massive $41 Bn investment over the next five years.
Raising concerns about the risk of running short of key raw materials needed for automotive batteries, Matthias Wachter, Head of Security and Raw Materials of BDI (Federation of German Industry) said, “The risk of running into bottlenecks in raw material supply is increasing because demand is growing faster than production capacity. “Without sufficient supplies for instance of cobalt, graphite, lithium or manganese there won’t be any future technology ‘made in Germany’.”
With global automotive players like Hyundai, BMW and Volkswagen eagerly eyeing a piece of the electric vehicles sector, the market is expected to undergo rapid growth and development in the coming months. In the context of India, there has a massive influx of funding and government backing that is likely to bolster the country’s fledgeling EV market in the years to come. On one hand indigenous companies like Tata Motors, Jayem Auto and Mahindra are doubling down to manufacture electric vehicles locally. On the other, startups like Ola and Uber are looking to tap into the opportunity by forging partnerships with established players. To be able to realise the dream of all-electric cars by 2030, however, the government needs to make provisions for low-cost battery manufacturing within the country. How far the Indian government is successful in its mission remains to be seen.
Until then, stay tuned for the next edition of our weekly series of Electric Vehicles Roundup!