In a recent event while speaking at a town hall with IT and electronic manufacturing professionals, Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi urged domestic manufacturers to develop affordable batteries and fast charging systems for Electric Vehicles. Shri. S J R Kutty, Head of Vehicle Attribute & Technical Services, ERC, Tata Motors Limited also considered this comprehensive approach, for transforming the mobility systems and aiming to accelerate the development of charging system, as important.
Taking EV Ecosystem as a primary challenge and keeping it at the forefront, he said “Although there has been gradual transformation in the Industry, the Industry that we are seeing now is significantly different from what we saw in the past. It puts forth a great challenge and a greater opportunity, and I can tell you that the future that we are going to see will be significantly different than the present”. Mr. Kutty thinks that Automobile Industry is now technologically ready to create a range of electric vehicles, which meet the requirement of delivering high performance.”
He said, “There is a need for new and innovative business models for vehicle charging so that we never have to go to gas stations or petrol pumps and minimize the range anxiety associated with EVs. While charging at home will continue to be the most convenient option for owners, a network of fast charging, public infrastructure can bring a revolution”.
Highlighting the need for EVs, Mr. Kutty said, “We probably underestimate the effect of pollution but it is necessary to understand the statistics where 3% of our entire GDP is utilized in treating pollution and pollution related diseases in some form or the other and this is only expected to grow. As EVs do not churn out pollution fumes and produces zero direct emissions, it will specifically help in improving air quality, as emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel in a vehicle”.
In India, despite a myriad of obstacles and challenges, EVs are steadily gaining traction in the market, thanks to government initiatives and the entry of international players like, Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Ford Volvo and Hyundai as well as startups such as, ION Energy, Ather Energy, Ultraviolette Automotive, among others. Having won the first global tender for supplying 10,000 electric cars to government-run EESL, Tata Motors is currently leading the electric vehicle revolution in the country. While we are now ready for EVs technologically, according to his perspective, there are a few fundamental concerns that need to be considered.
Mr. Kutty explained that an EV has a lot less moving parts as compared to conventional vehicles. While most of the system specific components remain same, the engine powertrain is essentially replaced with electric powertrain and controllers, which require relatively less servicing and no expenses on exhaust systems, radiators, fuel injection systems etc. This may lead to reduction in service and maintenance requirement in the future and repurposing of manpower, involved in service and maintenance, may become essential.
A Burden on Fossil Fuels
While conventional automobiles consume over 70 percent and 99 percent of diesel and petrol respectively which adds to the oil bill, Electricity for EVs may be generated from a wide range of sources such as wind power, solar power, tide power or any combination of those. Mr. Kutty feels that the oil bill that India has to pay is indirectly affecting the economy of the country as it is substantially taking away the money that can be used in the betterment of the society. The Government is for moving towards EVs to cut down the dependence on oil. According to the ministry, Indian manufacturers source lithium-ion cells through imports. In order to avoid a situation where in we will have to shift our imports from oil to lithium, we constantly need to explore technologies to maximize reuse & recycle of lithium from EV batteries.
EVs open doors for Die Casting Industry
On being asked about the scope of aluminium die-casting industry, Mr. Kutty responded, “To keep the entire economy alive, aluminium castings related parts and services will be needed further”. The electrical and automobile industry in India consume most of die-cast Aluminium parts. Since alternate sources of power to propel vehicles came into existence only in the last few years, the industry is still in the nascent stage.
The future will demand lighter materials as compared to cast Iron & steel to compensate for the additional weight of lithium-ion batteries, thus, increasing the percentage of aluminium used in the Automobile industry. The future is still unrevealed on the way forward, if it is hybrid or electric, but either way will significantly change the dynamics and open the doors for Aluminum High-Pressure Die Casting Industry.
Powering the Future
Automotive industry upped the ante in their bid to stay ahead by sowing the seeds of innovation that have short and long-term benefits that can strike the right balance between profitability and growth. Although, there are very fewer EVs available currently in India and ones which are available has many restrictions such as slow charging capability, battery range, speed etc. The Government is committed to enhancing EV penetration in India.
According to Kutty, the die casting market is correlative to the automobile industry and it has huge potential in taking Indian automobile forward by registering high CAGR till 2023. He feels that “Power generated from coal is reducing, electricity is getting replaced by solar and there will be a future where distributing electricity could be more expensive than generating it on the rooftop by ourselves”. He concluded by saying that he also believes, “Future is Bright and is going to be better with time as we explore innovations and find alternatives to grab opportunities coming our way”.
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