India’s electric vehicle drive: Challenges and opportunities

Gautam

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Mahindra confirms launch of 3 new EVs

Company MD Goenka says that carmaker is readying the e-KUV100, the electric XUV300 and a Mahindra-badged electric version of the Ford Aspire; pure EV platform under development.

By Staff Writer
7th Aug 2019 4:47 pm
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Photo :Mahindra's electric engine mounted on the Ford Aspire.

Homegrown carmaker Mahindra has been a first mover among automakers as far as electric vehicle mobility is concerned; and with the government recently announcing a slew of incentives to boost EV adoption, Mahindra Electric is strengthening its portfolio with as many as three new electric vehicles slated to launch by 2021.

At the announcement of the first quarter financial results today, Mahindra MD Pawan Goenka confirmed that the KUV100 electric will launch by end-2019 followed by the electric XUV300 in 2020 and there will also be a Mahindra-badged electric version of the Ford Aspire, likely to be slated for a 2021 launch.

The three new electric vehicles will join the Mahindra e-Verito currently on sale in Mahindra's EV model range. The brand's other EV, the E20, was discontinued since it was unable to meet the stringent safety norms.

While all of Mahindra's EVs so far are converted from internal combustion engine versions, Mahindra is also developing an EV platform that will spawn ground-up electric vehicles. Goenka confirmed that these products could be introduced within 3-3.5 years.

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Photo : Charge plug.

"As far as EVs go, the focus is more on three- and two-wheelers right now but four-wheelers will catch up. With the 5 percent GST reduction, the business case for EVerito becomes almost even. If, for instance, the 5 percent duty on the lithium-ion cell goes away, then the earnings for a shared mobility service provider will be the same for an e-Verito as well as for any diesel or petrol sedan," said Goenka. Mahindra currently has about 1,500-2,000 e-Veritos on the road right now and of the total, about 200 units have run for over 50,000 km.

Late last month, the GST Council recommended a reduction in GST rate on electric vehicles to 5 percent from 12 percent. It also announced that the GST on EV chargers and charging stations has been reduced to 5 percent from the earlier 18 percent, which could improve the lagging EV infrastructure in the country.

In response, Goenka had welcomed the move, saying, "Mahindra has many EV projects in progress. We will review immediately to see if we can fast forward some of them and also also look at faster ramp-up of capacity." He today reiterated his earlier announcement that the company's new EV plant in Chakan had gone on stream and with an investment of Rs 200 crore. It will manufacture key components s as the EV battery, motor, transmission and power electronics.

Goenka believes internal combustion engine vehicles are the pillar of our economy and the push towards EVs should not destroy that market. Rather, maintaining a balance is critical.

Mahindra confirms launch of 3 new EVs
 

Gautam

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Ford Aspire EV: A close look

Ford and Mahindra are jointly developing an Aspire-based electric sedan with enough performance and range to attract private customers. We drive a pre-facelift mule to give you a taste of things to come.

By Hormazd Sorabjee
13th May 2019, 6:00 am
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The first product to be co-developed by the recently announced Mahindra-Ford tie-up will be a Ford Aspire-based all-electric vehicle that could come to a charging socket near you by the end of next year.

We’ve exclusively driven an early mule and what immediately struck us is that this EV derivative of the Aspire isn’t the sub-four-metre version that’s on sale in the Indian market, but is instead a full-sized sedan with a bigger boot. It’s the same 4.2m-long Aspire that Ford exports to markets like South Africa from its Sanand plant, where it is manufactured alongside the domestic Aspire compact sedan.


Expect a real-world range of 150km.

The lower tax rate for cars under four metres doesn’t apply to EVs, all of which pay a flat 12 percent, irrespective of the length. So why not offer a bigger version of the Aspire at no extra cost? No extra cost to the company that is. “The material cost differences between the two body lengths are negligible,” says a Ford India source. However, in the eyes of the Indian customer, the perceived value of a car increases with size. This mindset would allow a premium to be attached to the price of the Aspire EV, which, given the high cost of batteries, won’t be cheap.

The arrangement between Mahindra and Ford to manufacture and sell the Aspire-based EV is fairly straightforward. Ford will provide just the ‘glider’ or body shell without the engine and transmission to Mahindra Electric, which, in turn, will plonk in its in-house-developed electric powertrain. The mule we drove was fitted with the eVerito’s basic 72V system, but this was done just to demonstrate the ‘proof of concept’ or the feasibility of packaging a battery back, electric motor and controllers in the Aspire.


Mule has electric powertrain from eVerito for proof of concept.

The specs for this electric midsize sedan, which Mahindra Electric has exclusively shared with us is pretty impressive. A high-voltage 380V system is being developed to match a larger battery back and a more powerful motor, to give this electric sedan a level of range and performance that won’t let its owners feel shortchanged. Mahindra is developing a 60kW (81.5hp) motor, which is twice more powerful than that of the eVerito. A bigger 25kWh battery pack (up from the eVerito’s 20kWh) is being developed and according to Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric, it is good for “a real-world range of 150km.” In the official drive cycle, Mahindra is targeting a range of close to 200km. “The top speed will be 110kph so this will be an electric car with proper performance,” says Babu.

This EV will be sold as a Mahindra and Ford by the respective companies and hence there will be some level of ‘badge engineering’ to differentiate between the brands. The low volumes won’t justify investment in expensive sheet metal changes and will be limited to softer parts like the bumpers and grilles.


Except for instrument cluster and shift lever, interiors will remain largely unchanged. Mahindra cars will have their own badging.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but what’s for sure is that this electric sedan will be under Rs 15 lakh to qualify for subsidies under the FAME II scheme. “We have done a business case under this price point for this very reason,” says Babu.

Initially, this new EV sedan will be targeted at corporate companies as a fleet vehicle for the employees’ home to office and back commute, but the aim is to eventually find private customers. That, however, could take some time as the asking price (almost twice that of a petrol Aspire) and lack of charging infrastructure are still big hurdles.

For Mahindra, the Aspire EV is a proud moment, as it’s the first time an Indian company has taken the lead in developing a product for a global automaker.


Ford Aspire EV: A close look
 

Gautam

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Panasonic may set up li-ion battery module assembly  unit in India

3 min read . Updated: 16 Aug 2019, 12:34 AM IST Malyaban Ghosh, Utpal Bhaskar
  • Panasonic will initially assemble batteries for 2- and 3-wheelers as the  govt is pushing for their electrification
  • Almost all electric vehicles (EVs) in India run on imported batteries, mostly from China

Manish Sharma, president and CEO, Panasonic India. (HT )

NEW DELHI: Japan’s Panasonic Corp. is exploring opportunities to set up a facility for assembling lithium-ion (li-ion) battery modules in India, said a top company executive.

With India readying its roadmap for transition to electric mobility, leading global manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries are exploring opportunities to first build assembly units, even as they eventually plan large-scale manufacturing of lithium-ion cells in the country.

South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd and Japan’s Toshiba have also formed collaborations for assembling battery packs with Indian companies such as Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) Ltd. Indian companies in the battery manufacturing space such as Exide Industries Ltd and Amara Raja Batteries Ltd have also formed joint ventures with foreign companies to start assembling batteries.

Almost all electric vehicles (EVs) in India run on imported batteries, mostly from China. At present, a lithium-ion battery accounts for 40% of the total cost of an EV. Lithium also has other uses such as in mobile phone batteries and solar panels.

As EVs gain prominence in the domestic market, multinational companies in the battery manufacturing space first want to test the potential of the Indian market by assembling modules or battery packs.

For instance, Panasonic will initially assemble batteries for two- and three-wheelers as the Union government wants to push for a shift towards electrification in these two segments. The Japanese company will also invest in setting up charging stations and telematics platform for electric three-wheelers.

“The logical step that we would take before jumping into manufacturing cells in this country is to look at module assembly to happen. That consideration is going on about how to assemble the modules in this country. You can’t expect many large factories to come up because it’s a catch twenty-two situation. If it is not Gigawatt scale, then cost-efficiency will not be enough," said Manish Sharma, president and chief executive officer (CEO), Panasonic Corp.

Sharma said the company is yet to finalize its plans, but once the company decides to assemble modules in India, lithium-ion cells will be imported from factories in Japan or China.

“Our cells have the capability to go anywhere. We can bring in the cells suited for two- and three-wheeler applications and those modules can be assembled here. In our case, first we will look at two- and three-wheelers. Not only batteries, but we will also invest in other services like charging stations and telematics platform for people to track their vehicles, charging or discharging cycles and other things related to the vehicle," Sharma said.

Mint reported on 25 July about how the EV programme aims to be technology-agnostic, meaning it will be left to the market to determine which technology is best suited for the country, depending on demand and price.

Toshiba Corp. and Denso Corp. have already formed a joint venture with Suzuki Motor Co. to invest around ₹1,100 crore in setting up a manufacturing facility for lithium-ion batteries in Gujarat. It will initially produce batteries for hybrid vehicles and later for EVs. South Korea’s largest battery manufacturer LG Chem has joined hands with M&M to assemble battery packs in a factory at Chakan, Maharashtra.

Given the changing global energy landscape, India has set up a National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage. An inter-ministerial steering committee has also been set up which is chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

The committee comprises secretaries from the ministries of road transport and highways, power, new and renewable energy, and the departments of science and technology, heavy industries, industrial policy and promotion and has held numerous meetings to expedite the plan. It also has director general of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as a member, with some meetings also been attended by the secretaries of the ministries of mines, electronics and information technology and environment, forest and climate change.

Panasonic may set up li-ion battery module assembly  unit in India
 

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Tesla shows interest in India’s plans to build battery plants

4 min read . Updated: 18 Aug 2019, 11:21 PM IST, by Utpal Bhaskar
  • The robust global interest comes amid the govt’s push to make India a hub for making EVs and their components
  • India will need six gigawatt-scale facilities (of 10GWh each) by 2025 and 12 by 2030, according to a NITI estimate

India is looking to achieve what Tesla has done at its Gigafactory in Nevada, US (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi: Tesla and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) are among the companies that have shown an initial interest in the Indian government’s plan to build large factories to make lithium-ion batteries at an investment of about ₹50,000 crore.

Among the other firms that have shown an interest in the mega project is China’s BYD Co. Ltd, said two government officials aware of the matter, requesting anonymity.

The robust global interest comes amid a strong push by the government to make India a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles and their components. This is aimed at arresting the South Asian country’s reputation as the world’s third-largest crude oil importer, saving on precious foreign exchange and also controlling pollution in its major cities.

“This is a multibillion dollar opportunity. The EFC (expenditure finance committee) meeting has been done. It will now come up in the cabinet," said the first government official cited above.

Aimed at securing India’s energy needs, the plan to set up these 50-gigawatt hour (GWh) factories has been cleared by EFC, with the final tender expected to be awarded by February. Each gigawatt hour (1,000 megawatt hours) of battery capacity can power 1 million homes for an hour and around 30,000 electric cars.

Tesla is still to launch its electric cars in India, with its chief executive Elon Musk blaming the decision on “challenging government regulations" and “extremely high" import duties in India. This, despite transport minister Nitin Gadkari visiting the Palo Alto, California-based company in 2016 and proposing joint ventures between the electric carmaker and Indian automakers to produce eco-friendly vehicles. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited Tesla’s California facility in 2015.

The move to build the giga plants is helmed by federal policy think tank NITI Aayog and looks to achieve what Tesla has done at its Gigafactory in Nevada, US.

The programme also aims to be technology-agnostic, meaning it will be left to the market to determine which technology is best suited for the country, depending on demand and price.

“We are expecting all cabinet clearances by September. Post that, the international tender will be floated. The EFC clearance has come. The evaluation won’t take much time. The minimum ceiling for bidding is 5GWh, with the maximum allowed quantum of 20GWh," said the second government official cited earlier.

According to a conservative scenario envisaged by NITI Aayog, India will need six such gigawatt-scale facilities (of 10GWh each) by 2025 and 12 by 2030. While this doesn’t include the export market potential, the base scenario envisions 11 such giga factories by 2025 and 24 by 2030.

“Large batteries should be brought to the clean energy play to help use infirm power such as wind and solar. We first need it on a large scale to cater to the internal demand. All the top global manufacturers, including Tesla, have evinced interest. We will get more clarity once the tender documents are bought," said the second official.

(Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint)
Besides electric vehicles, such battery storages will cater to electricity grids, given the intermittent nature of electricity from clean energy sources such as solar and wind. India has become one of the top renewable energy producers globally with an installed renewable energy capacity of about 80 gigawatts (GW), with plans to achieve 175GW by 2022 and 500GW by 2030, as part of its climate commitments.

Queries emailed to the spokespeople of NITI Aayog, Tesla, BYD and CATL on Friday remained unanswered.

In July, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the Union budget tax breaks for setting up mega-manufacturing plants for solar photovoltaic cells, lithium-ion storage batteries and solar electric charging infrastructure.

“Wherever such factories have come up, they have come up with the government’s support. The focus of the tender is that it should be made in India and value addition has to be captured here," said the second official.

To encourage private sector investment in this sector, the government is looking at tax incentives for manufacturers and a basic customs duty safeguard from 2021-2030 for making advanced chemistry cells and battery in India. It may offer an output-linked subsidy on kilowatt hour of cells sold. India is also exploring a nearly $1 billion concessional loan facility to be drawn from multilateral lenders to boost battery storage plans.

To encourage sales of electric vehicles, the Goods and Services Tax Council last month decided to cut taxes on electric vehicles and chargers from 1 August. In the budget, Sitharaman announced tax rebates of up to ₹1.5 lakh for customers on interest paid on loans to buy EVs, with a total exemption benefit of ₹2.5 lakh over the entire loan period. She also announced customs duty exemption on lithium-ion cells, which will help lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries in India, as they are not produced locally.

In March, the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles or FAME 2 scheme—to expand commercial vehicle fleet—was also announced with an outlay of ₹10,000 crore.

Malyaban Ghosh contributed to this story.

Tesla shows interest in India’s plans to build battery plants
 

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That article about oil revenues being impacted is BS. Looks more like a lobby sponsored article.

Oil dependence will continue rising until 2035 for India. It will take that long for EVs to make a dent. After 2035 is when the last of the two and three wheelers will start leaving the roads. Closer to 2040 in fact.

And if by 2035-40, we can't find other sources of revenue, then we deserve to be poor.

Regardless petrol and diesel are only a small part of petroleum products, and other products will continue to be made for industrial purposes. Other petroleum products will continue to be used for many, many decades.
 

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Gautam

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Indian Oil to build a 1 GW electric vehicle battery plant

Our Bureau
Mumbai | Published on August 28, 2019

Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation (File photo)

The company will tie-up with a global start-up to produce the batteries

State-run oil refiner Indian Oil Corporation Ltd will set up a 1 Giga Watt (GW) plant to make batteries used for running electric vehicles (EVs) in partnership with an overseas start-up using a non-lithium ion raw material that is locally available, Chairman Sanjiv Singh said on Wednesday.

The move fits well with the government’s strategy to facilitate the adoption of EVs in the country’s energy basket, and cut the fuel import bill. It also supports a key element of the EVs industry — batteries and their recharge.

“If we look at EVs today, we know that it is more efficient, less complex, very advanced and more economical, if you are looking at the car alone. If you club it with batteries and electricity, from where electricity is coming, how you will replace batteries — because battery has a very limited life, how you recycle batteries, then probably, if you also look at the impact on environment, there is a puzzle which is yet to be solved,” Singh said.

India-centric solution

“The lithium-ion battery we see today is not the only answer, or is the best answer. For a country like India, we don’t have a single grain of lithium. So, if you are looking at EVs in a very big way, we have to look for something which is indigenously available. We have already tied-up with one company. We are working on a solution which can be manufactured 100 per cent indigenously,” Singh said without elaborating.

According to Indian Oil’s director for Research and Development Dr SS V Ram Kumar, the planned battery plant will use “chemistries which are India-centric, whose raw material is easily available in this country, whose recycling technology is extremely mature, and whose recycling industry is well established in this country.”

He said that it will use “transition group of elements”.

“Those elements are known since ages, the natural resources of that particular element in this country is abundantly available, unlike in the case of lithium. For lithium, you have to be depending on imports, and that too from China, because all lithium reserves today are under the possession of China,” Ram Kumar said.

'New and profitable business'

Th battery plant will be set up through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by IOC and the overseas entity. “We may rope in another interested player, it could be anybody who brings in some expertise and synergies to this venture,” he said.

The location of the plant is yet to be decided, he said. “It will be located at a place where land is available at a reasonable price, and all the statutory clearances are available quickly,” he noted.

“It will be a manufacturing facility of battery to the scale, meaning minimum 1 GW. It’s a GW scale facility to be built in phases beginning with 25 MW or 50 MW and ramped up. It is be commensurate with the demand that is going to pick up in the country for e-vehicles and e-mobility. We have signed the agreement with the overseas start-up entity and is waiting for government clearance which is around the corner,” he added.

Sanjiv Singh said that Indian Oil is venturing into energy storage and the batteries business was a “new and profitable business avenue for the company”. “We have a strategic intent to scale-up presence in e-mobility by equipping customer touch points with turbo-charging and battery swapping facilities for EVs and plug-in hybrids,” he said.

Indian Oil to build a 1 GW electric vehicle battery plant