Commercial Vehicles

Government looks at retrofitted electric buses to curb pollution

by Autocar Pro News Desk Dec 22, 2015

PM attends demonstration of first prototype of retrofitted electric bus

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Prime minister Narendra Modi at a function showcasing a retrofitted electric bus at Parliament House, in New Delhi on December 21. Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

A lot has been said about the rising menace of pollution in Indian cities of late and it goes without saying that the problem has amplified with growing levels of industrialisation, vehicle population and relentless construction work over the past decade.

The recent intervention by the Supreme Court to ban diesel vehicles with engines above 2,000cc in the Delhi-NCR region points out to the urgent need of addressing the issue and the government, led by prime minister Narendra Modi, has now called for finding alternate solutions to the dependence of vehicles on fossil fuels in the country.

In line with this, PM Modi attended the demonstration of the first prototype of a diesel bus converted into a battery operated electric bus at a function in the Parliament on Monday. Speaking on the occasion, he said that pollution has become a matter of grave concern in our everyday lives and finding a solution to this problem is a major challenge today.

Referring to the recently concluded COP 21 meet in Paris, the prime minister lauded two of its major initiatives aimed at promoting green energy – one on innovation and the other on the Global Solar Alliance of 120 countries. He said the cost- effective, environmentally clean, electric buses are a significant step in the direction of combating pollution. He called the retrofitted electric buses a new gift from ‘Make in India’ and called upon the youth to come forward to make cost-efficient, long-lasting batteries to promote the making of more such electric buses which can be incorporated in our public transport system.

The prime minister presented the keys of the first retrofitted bus to the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who was also present on the occasion. The bus is proposed to be used by members of Parliament.

Smart electric bus uses KPIT tech 
The smart electric bus, which was flagged off by prime minister Narendra Modi on December 21, employs indigenous technology developed by the India-headquartered global technology company, KPIT.

Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) has partnered for this project to validate and ensure that the electric bus technology is safe, reliable, and well suited for Indian road conditions. KPIT says the smart electric bus enables clean mobility and is aligned with the Indian government’s initiatives of Make in India, Smart Cities and Swachh Bharat.

This full electric system for buses can be deployed to create new intelligent electric buses, as well as convert existing conventional fuel buses. It is a versatile system and a variety of existing bus types can be converted to electric buses. KPIT has over 20 global patents for this technology.

Commenting on the occasion, Ravi Pandit, co-founder, chairman and Group CEO of KPIT, said: “KPIT is focused on enabling green and intelligent public transportation in India. Our indigenously built Intelligent Transport Solution (ITS) is implemented in 4000+ buses and running in 19 states in India. The Smart Electric Bus showcased today is a robust, pollution-free and affordable public transportation system that can be deployed at a very large scale across India.  Through such technologies we are very happy to contribute in the government’s vision for Smart Cities and Make in India.”

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Prime minister Narendra Modi speaking on the new retrofitted electric buses R&D project by CIRT and KPIT, supported by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. Also seen are Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan; minister of parlimentary affairs & urban development, Venkaiah Naidu; minister of road transport & highways, Nitin Gadkari; minister of state, Prakash Javadekar; and Ravi Pandit, co-founder, chairman and Group CEO, KPIT.

Nitin Gadkari, minister of Road Transport & Highways, said that the cost effective, pollution-free and import substituting retrofitted electric buses demonstrate the government’s commitment towards ‘Make in India’ and its resolve for fighting vehicular pollution.

Gadkari also shared the government’s plan of developing lithium-ion batteries, with ISRO, which will cost only Rs 500,000 as against the current price of Rs 50 lakh for imported batteries. He called upon parliamentarians to make maximum use of the retrofitted buses and make them popular.

In order to fight the growing pollution that results from emissions from diesel buses, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has taken up an initiative of converting existing diesel buses into non-polluting electric buses. Procurement of new electric buses is on the agenda of various State Transport undertakings. In this context the converted buses would be very useful as they would cost about one-fourth of the cost of a new electric bus.

The converted buses are part of a pilot project of Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT). The prototype has been developed by KPIT, Pune with consultations from CIRT. The technology has been wholly developed in India. Ten more buses are proposed to be retrofitted for use by State Transport Undertakings by March 2016. Large scale conversions of diesel buses to electric will be taken up after evaluating the success of the pilot project. 

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