The Automotive Forum 2013 Evolution of Electric Mobility
The Automotive Forum 2013, Evolution of Electric Mobility India, was held on 13th of August 2013 at Taj Coromandel, Chennai. This meet was based on the theme – Evolution of Electric Mobility – Environment conservation, stringent emission norms and depleting fossil fuel reserves.
Takada regaled audience on the Nissan strategy of Zero Emission and their endeavors for the future besides the company’s actions in seeking leadership role in electric vehicle segment. Takada himself owns a Nissan Leaf in Japan and emphasized the need for better electric vehicle infrastructure and quick charging facilities in the country.
Kartik Gopal of Mahindra Reva drew emphasis to the company’s endeavor in introducing the Reva electric vehicle and on the Government’s National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 which will go a long way in encouraging further spurt of electric vehicles in the country. It is these vehicles which are not only five to six times more energy efficient than conventional vehicles but also go a long way in conserving energy and preserving the environment which is the need of the hour.
Autocar Professional’s expert debate on ‘Evolution of Electric Mobility’ is a big draw
Autocar Professional’s third Automotive Forum, based on the theme of ‘Evolution of Electric Mobility’ was held at the Taj Coromandel, Chennai,on Tuesday,13th August 2013. The well-attended event, moderated by associate editor Sumantra Barooah, saw a galaxy of top-notch speakers from across industry debate a range of issues that provided much food for thought.Setting the tone of the seminar was Chikuya Takada, Head of Product Planning, GM,Nissan Motor India. Previously, manager, Product Strategy and Planning Department of Nissan’s Zero Emission Business Unit, he took the audience through how the Japanese company has evolved its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programme and what its own reading of the future is, most importantly being how Nissan sees a leadership role around EVs.
Speaking passionately about EVs, Takada, who himself owns and drives a Nissan Leaf in Japan, said that over the years, customers’ mindsets have dramatically changed, particularly after driving EVs. What’s key for the success of EVs in India, he said, is that there has to be evolvement of all stakeholders. He, however, added, “I believe the pace of growth will be faster than we expect.” He emphasized the need for an EV-friendly infrastructure and also quick-charging facilities in the country. In his detailed presentation, he spoke about Yokohama City in Japan where there are over 500 fast-charging stations and the Smart City project which calls for a massive introduction of EVs and linkage with the Energy Management System.
Kartik Gopal, GM (Mobility Solutions & Business Development), Mahindra Reva, spoke about the pioneering Indian company’s experience in developing and manufacturing the Reva, the ongoing challenges and encouraging prospects for the EV industry. He said for the first time, the Indian government has given electric mobility a ‘mission status’ in the form of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP), which indicates its commitment in encouraging adoption of EVs.
Gopal spoke about the investments that are needed for a proper set-up and also about the need for better awareness. Importantly, he added, what will drive sales of EVs in India is cracking customers’ mindsets and delivering just what they need. He spoke about how EVs are five to six times more energy efficient than conventional Internal Combustion Engine vehicles and how the company is going about alleviating buyer concerns about range anxiety and EV charging, among other issues. In line with that, he revealed that Mahindra Reva has tweaked its sales strategy which enables potential buyers to get to use the e2O for a few days to get a real-world experience of living with an EV. Gopal signed off by saying that the opportunities for EVs in India are as good as EV exports if the environment for them can be created.
Suvojoy Sengupta, managing director of Booz & Company (India), provided his perspective on the EV industry and future growth in his presentation titled ‘Is India doing enough?’ Sengupta, who has been working since 2011 with SIAM and the Department of Heavy Industries, on the government’s national strategy and NEMMP, spoke about evolving an Indian paradigm for electric mobility, and how three key drivers will usher in a new era of alternative energy technology worldwide: unsustainable petroleum-based consumption, increasing environmental pressure, and alternative energy technology reaching a threshold. He added that incremental efficiency improvements in ICE technology may not be enough and also that alternative powertrain technologies are starting to mature.
He said India can achieve annual savings of Rs 13,000-14,000 crore in 2020 by targeting around 7 million unit sales of plug-in electric vehicles (xEVs), thereby offering security from import of expensive conventional fuels. Along with being ecofriendly transport, local manufacturing can be supported through domestic production incentives along with specific clauses for demand incentives which call for increasing localisation of xEV components. In this way, the government can help facilitate
creation of affordable xEV solutions which can meet consumer expectations. The challenge, said Sengupta, is meeting consumers’ price/performance expectations as regards the cost of lithium ion batteries, the most expensive component in an EV. As a solution for the ‘mobility revolution’, he called for a new eco-system of
collaborative partnerships between the government (Regulatory Innovation Frontier), the automotive industry (Technical Innovation Frontier) and cross industry/value chain (Business Innovation Frontier).
Sengupta signed off with 4 key policy drivers to drive xEV demand. On the demand side, he said initial demand for EV makers can come through government-mandated purchases for fleets and public transportation and cash subsidies to consumers. On the supply side, OEMs and vendors could be given benefits like accelerated depreciation and tax holidays to encourage local assembly and manufacturing, phase out existing low import duties on components over 5 years old to encourage localisation. The third driver, he said, is R&D which involves funding of R&D programs along with OEMs and component suppliers to develop optimal solutions for India at low cost. Finally, infrastructure support is critical, which could be in the form of modest investment to build public charging facilities to support EVs, especially buses. He concluded by saying that banks could be drawn into the EV ecosphere with customer-enabling