In an exclusive chat with Rushlane, Mr. R.K.Shenoy, Senior Vice President, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, talks about the scenario of eMobility in India and the technologies the company has in store. Here are our questions and his answers.
Do electric vehicles really make a difference in a country like India, where most of the electricity is generated from burning coal?
The idea to move towards Electrification in mobility is to do with oil imports. India is one of the largest importers of oil. Secondly, CO2 emission will come down considerably because of electrification, which is the need of the hour for our crowded cities. Electrification does not necessarily mean pure electric vehicles. The hybrid technology reduces emissions significantly in the typical STOP-n-GO traffic conditions in cities.
Moving forward, even in 2020 the bulk of electricity produced in India would be coal based – around 50%+.However with the electricity production planned by the Energy Mission, there is emphasis on renewable energy like Wind and Solar. This would definitely change the situation and would still make sense to go for pure electric, which can be charged when the load on the grid is low (say at night).
Mahindra has been trying for years to bring in a change in the mind set of buyers. But they are falling short, even in major cities where buyers are concerned about the environment. Why do you think buyers are not ready to accept electric cars in India?
For Indian consumers the electric car does not provide a good value proposition as a first car. Majority of Indians are either have single car or in the process of buying one.
General perception on Mahindra Reva, is that it is an underperforming and overpriced car. With the subsidies that have been announced we see an increase in sales & I am sure with volumes growing, there would definitely be a possibility for the prices to drop and people buying electric cars for at least the 2nd car.
Considering the high number of 2/3 wheelers, focus for electrification must be for these vehicles, wherein the sheer volumes would justify the investments to produce these at lower prices. For example in China in cities like Shanghai it is prohibited to drive IC-engine based 2W.
What are the first steps India should take in order make it friendly to electric cars?
- The very first step is to invest on storage technology. For example, local manufacturing of Lithium ion Batteries to reduce costs.
- Second is to create ‘charging infrastructure’ in all public parking lots with seamless payment options.
- Give incentive for EV buyers to bring down the value vs. cost proposition.
- Create increased awareness on emissions and create specialized zones which allow only electric/ hybrid vehicles to ply.
- Offer cost vs. performance value propositions starting with low voltage range hybrids (48V to 100V) systems and move towards high voltage (400V).
Is Robert Bosch India conducting research on electric vehicles and systems?
Bosch in India is contributing to the global eMobility development initiatives of Bosch since 2008 in terms of SW and system development in areas like battery systems, inverter control, electrical machine design analysis and validation. There is a range of products which have been developed out of India for global markets and this technology is available to be introduced into the Indian market. We are in discussions with OEMs to supply these systems. We can further work on localizing such products and scaling down to suit the local requirements.
Acceptance of EV, especially in India is going to be gradual process. So low cost mild hybrid systems for small cars seem to be a good starting point. Is Bosch having a product/technology that could initiate the progress towards cleaner yet affordable cars in India?
Bosch has established a special project house to develop solutions in the area of light eMobility where different divisions of Bosch work together to create small-car solutions. These are BRS (Brake Recuperation Systems), which are becoming popular in the rest of the world and this technology is being made available for India too.
If such a mild hybrid technology is at Robert Bosch’s disposal, what sort of systems are we looking at? And what are their benefits compared to a regular IC engine car?
These systems can be used for developing hybrid vehicles or range extenders to improve the fuel efficiency of the vehicle which can bring down the fossil fuel consumption considerably, reduce pollution and make environment cleaner. In addition, this also can add fun to the driving experience as the starting torque of an electrical machine is always on the higher side in comparison with the IC engine. Hybrids are very well suited for stop-n-go situations during which the maximum fuel is consumed during acceleration and wasted during braking.
What do you think about NEMMP 2020? What sort of policies would do like the Government of India to put in place to create a conducive environment for electric mobility?
NEMMP is the national electric mobility Mission Plan 2020. This is intended to provide the future road map for electric mobility for our country. They established three major functional units namely National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) and National Board for Electric Mobility (NBEM) and National Automotive Board (NAB); they are associated with Ministry Of Heavy Industries. As part of this, they have conducted studies and developed strategies and implementation procedures for the eMobility mission in India. Based on the recommendation from NEMMP the heavy industry has announced many incentives and R&D Schemes for eMobility targeting OEMs and end users.
The approval process is now easier by appointing the above mentioned boards. NEMMP 2020 has a comprehensive framework in place to take big positive steps towards the electric transportation future of India. Greater focus should be the 2/3W and light commercial vehicles, which are high volume layers so that we can drastically reduce the emissions in larger cities, which is the need of the hour.