KOCHI: The world is moving towards Electric Vehicles, slowly but steadily. Petrol -diesel or ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) vehicles will surely be there for some more decades to come; but as most developed and developing countries have decided to go green, the focus is on EVs.
On September 8, World EV Day, many companies announced their near- and mid-term goals. In India, the largest chunk of EVs are two-wheelers; mainly scooters. There are ‘innumerable’ companies that bring out low-speed scooters that don’t need registration, road tax or driving license to ride. Some serious players even bring out powerful electric scooters and bikes that match their petrol counterparts in performance, quality and price.
At the same time, the country is also keenly looking at the electric car market. As India wants to reduce dependence on imported petroleum fuels, the car market should move towards EVs.Tata Motors has been at the forefront of the electric revolution in India. With two models Nexon EV and Tigor EV in the mass market price segments, the company enjoys a huge advantage over others. On EV Day, the company announced some affordable EV models too.
The TIAGO EV, expected to come out soon, will be the cheapest electric car in the country. Many expect the price point to be near `10 lakh. At present, over 40,000 Tata EVs are plying on the road.
Mahindra also unveiled its electric compact SUV, the XUV400. Though based on 4-metre XUV300, the EV is longer.
A single electric motor producing 150hp, powered by a 39.4kWh battery is the heart of XUV400. The company claims a range of 456km. It is a little bigger than that of the Nexon EV. The price can also go a bit higher.
The other volume player in the EV market is MG Motor India. MG ZS EV is a mid-size SUV with premium features.The recent entrant BYD, a Chinese company has created a niche in India by bringing the first electric MPV. It delivered 450 e6 MPVs across the country on EV day. With a 580-litre boot space and a claimed range of more than 500 km, e6 became very popular in a short time.
Tesla, the Global Icon of the EV revolution, has not yet reached the Indian market. But in the premium or luxury market too, auto makers are making moves. Korean siblings KIA and Hyundai are bringing two premium models; EV6 and Ioniq, respectively. European players — Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi and Volvo — are also bringing many electric models. Merc has even started assembling luxury electric sedans in India.
However, India has a long way to go in the EV segment. Concerns are many — charging infrastructure, affordable pricing (on par with petrol/diesel models), long-term reliability, range, resale value and many more.
In Kerala too, EVs are in demand. Vinod P, sales head of Coastline Garages (MG dealer) says, “We see high demand for our EV ZS in Kerala. It is popular among professionals. Some 700 bookings from Kerala are pendingat the moment”.
According to Nithin Shah Jose, business head of Malayalam Tata (Tata Motors dealer), a section of society is now increasingly conscious of environmental issues and they are interested in EVS. “EVs are bought as the second or third car of some families. Tata Motors have a share of 85 per cent of the national EV market. It has 87 per cent per cent market share in Kerala,” he adds.
What not to do
- Do not attempt to repair or service the charging station and gun yourself – may result in injury.
- Do not operate the charge station and gun if they or the supply cable are visibly damaged.
- Adult supervision is mandatory while charging.
- Ensure all plugs and cables are free of moisture before using the charging gun. Never connect the charging gun to the mains with wet or moist hands or when the charging gun is wet
- The charger generates electromagnetic waves that can seriously impact medical electric devices such as an implantable cardiac pacemaker in a person. When a person has an implant like the one mentioned above, make sure to ask the medical team and the manufacturer whether charging your EV will impact the operation of the medical electric device implant. In such cases, do not go near the vehicle when it is charging.
- Ensure the charging gun is always stored in a safe place. Do not expose it to rain or wet conditions. Avoid pouring or dripping water or other liquids over it.
- Fast charging can be done wherever the fast/DC charging station is available. A user can charge at high speeds at public charging stations.
- Do not expose the vehicle to extreme temperatures for an extended period.
- Do not leave the vehicle uncharged for more than 14 days.
- Do not use the Li-ion battery for any other purpose.
- Though fast charging is convenient, normal charging once a month is recommended.
- Battery capacity may decrease when the vehicle is stored in high/low temperatures.
- Charging gun should always be stored in a safe place. Make sure to not expose it to wet weather
IT’S THE FUTURE
Globally, the auto industry does not doubt that the future is electric and there is no going back. Investments in EV technologies are seeing an exponential rise. As EVs have fewer moving parts, wear and tear, periodic replacement of parts etc are considerably low. Coming to fuel, electricity comes at a fraction of the cost of Petrol or diesel. Adding to that, governments across the world are encouraging the EV industry through subsidies. India is moving towards enforcing Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) norms. These norms assign company-specific average mileage targets.
The idea is to reduce carbon emissions. As emissions increase, mileage decreases. So the companies have to increase mileage by various means. That is why car companies are keen to bring out fuel-efficient petrol/diesel engines, hybrid models and EVs. If a company fails to meet the CAFE target, the government will impose a fine. Reducing and finally stopping dependency on fossil fuels, mainly imported from the west Asian countries, is another important target of many countries.
HERE COMES HYBRID!
Interestingly, another major step towards electrification became a discussion point recently — hybrid technology. Toyota and Maruti Suzuki jointly developed two SUVs that run on petrol engines along with electric motors. This pure hybrid (strong hybrid) technology is more user-friendly as it does not require external charging. The battery garners electric charge by a generator motor system that converts kinetic energy to electrical energy — the battery will get charged while the car is on the move. These models — Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara — can be run as pure electric cars at slow speed and in city traffic.
These will help reduce petrol consumption by a considerable amount. As claimed by the companies, a litre can fetch nearly 28 kilometres. However, hybrid cars don’t have any tax incentives. They are taxed at 43 per cent GST, while EVs attract only 5 per cent. They don’t have any rebates on road tax either. Hybrid vehicles has benifts of both the petrol and electric cars. As there is petrol, one doesn’t have to worry about range or search for a charging point. At the same time, carbon emission is low.
Range and charging
EVs have a limited range on every full charge. While refuelling petrol or diesel cars takes just minutes, EVs take at least an hour at a fast charging centre. On a slow charging point, it can take up to half a day to recharge. For long trips, it is not practical to use an EV.
Infra: Though different agencies are working on installing public charging stations, we cannot expect it in every nook and corner of the country. The complexity and time taken to charge are also annoying.
Battery: The life and efficiency of the battery are other concerns. The efficiency of Lithium-ion batteries will come down gradually. Though companies offer an 8-year warranty, that is for manufacturing defects. There are a specific number of charge-recharge cycles for a battery, after which it may be replaced. But replacing a battery pack may not be practical, as it costs around one-third of a new car’s price.
Cost: If one uses a domestic electric connection, the bills will face a steep increase. In that case, the economic advantage over ICE may be taken away. Otherwise, one has to install a solar power plant or should connect to some other renewable energy source
Safety: Incidents of fire involving EVs became an area of big concern recently. Extreme weather conditions warrant extra care for EVs. Battery packs usually have high protection against water, dust, fire and nail penetration. But owners should ensure good care and maintenance of the vehicle as it contains a high voltage system and wiring. The charging points should also be foolproof.
The writer is a freelance auto expert who hosts TV shows and anchors the YouTube channel ‘CARKADUVA’