Auto Expo 2018: A peek into an all EV future

The recently concluded New Delhi Auto Expo 2018 was a peek into the direction towards which India’s largest industry by official employment, the automotive sector, is moving

February 14, 2018

The Expo’s main thrust was to showcase the nascent potential of non-gasoline drive trains to power mass transport, commercial vehicles, beyond personal vehicles

Mahindra, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland – Sun Mobility, Honda Motor, Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor showcased a variety of drivetrains, both all Electric and Hybrid

Tata Motors showcased its new design concept of RACEMO +- – an all-electric sports coupe; while Mahindra showcased its M3ELECTRO or Ampere Formula E race car

Amongst the newest entrant into the Indian automotive scene, KIA motors showcased a variety of vehicles from an SUV to an all-electric compact vehicle designed for India

The recently concluded New Delhi Auto Expo 2018 was a peek into the direction towards which India’s largest industry by official employment, the automotive sector, is gearing up for. The precedence for the Expo’s ambitious raison d étre was set up in mid-2017 when successive ministries, ministers, policy planners and bureaucrats outlined plans for a concentrated push into the brave new world of electric vehicles. Leading from that start, India is now planning to move all vehicles on roads to fully electric platform in future. These pronouncements by the authorities have galvanised the automotive sector into taking sides in what is surely going to be a mammoth exercise in which there will be winners and some losers in a keenly awaited marketing rush.

The manufacturing side of the automotive sector that comprises of the largest segment was quick to seize upon what they felt was a disruptive decision and since then has carried on a vocal campaign designed to influence the Government’s policy direction for  in implementing the EV ecosystem. As a result, Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland – Sun Mobility, Honda Motor, Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor all showcased a variety of drive trains (both all Electric as well as Hybrid) at the Expo. Tata Motors showcased its portfolio of all electric drive trains as well as conventional drive trains. From mass transport buses that run on all electric architecture, they also showcased soft road SUVs and sports cars for the consumer segment.

The main thrust, keeping in line with what automotive manufacturers feel has been at this auto expo, was to showcase the nascent potential of non-gasoline drive trains to power mass transport, commercial vehicles as well as personal transport vehicles

Expo pushes innovation boundary

Apart from the mass-produced segment, Tata Motors also showcased its new design concept of RACEMO +- – from their Turin based design studio – an all-electric sports coupe which has won the German Design Award for Exceptional product design recently. The RACEMO +- is powered by a 150kW/203 BHP all electric drive train and has a stated range of 350 km on a single charge. Separately, Mahindra showcased gasoline powered, hybrid and all electric vehicles for both the commercial and consumer segments. The highlight of the Mahindra pavilion was their M3ELECTRO or Ampere Formula E race car. This car features a 200kW/269 BHP electric drive train.
Also leading from the front was a joint venture of Ashok Leyland and Sun Mobility. In a first, Sun Mobility showcased an automated instant battery swap technology solution developed for Leyland passenger busses. This swap solution is designed to provide fleet operators with seamless logistics options and reduce charging downtime, thereby maximising earning potential. Honda and Toyota had no new additions to their existing fleet other than their concept cars and hybrid trains. Suzuki, the largest automotive maker in the country by value and volume, focused mostly on their existing lineup of vehicles, barring a couple of standalone hybrid transmission concepts.

Readying for an EV future

The main thrust, keeping in line with what automotive manufacturers feel has been at this auto expo, was to showcase the nascent potential of non-gasoline drive trains to power mass transport, commercial vehicles as well as personal transport vehicles. Within the ambit of the non-gasoline drive trains, the core area for the domestic as well as the foreign majors have been to push Hybrid solutions over an all-electric solution. The reasons for a focus on Hybrids are not hard to fathom. For a start, there are certain pending unresolved issues related to technology selection, charging infrastructure, power generation and grid policies, adoption and support in the all-electric drive train space. However, more importantly, the typical adoption life cycle across countries that have seen significant growth in the electric space has been to use Hybrid technology as the ideal step over platform.
This has allowed growth in infrastructure and associated issues while tackling the immediate concern of pollution and emissions by lowering the requirements of fossil fuels from India’s fast-growing automotive sector. Meanwhile, amongst the newest entrant into the Indian automotive scene, KIA Motors showcased a variety of vehicles from an SUV to an all-electric compact vehicle designed specifically for India. Notable for their absence in this year’s Auto Expo were global biggies such as the Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo.

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