Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Anant Geete spoke his heart out on the subject of electric mobility at the valedictory function of ITEC India, a three-day conference organised at ARAI Pune to discuss the nuances of e-mobility.
Lauding the role of the domestic automotive industry in making the ‘Make in India’ programme successful, he said the government must actively engage with industry and plan for the future. Commenting on the country targeting all-electric mobility by 2030, he said, “We need to be realistic and understand India’s current realities as well.”
Globally, lithium ion is the primary source for batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs). However, India, which is short on natural reserves of lithium, will have to depend on import of this material if it is to adopt mass-scale electro-mobility and cater to a large population of EVs.
Geete queried that while India does not have lithium deposits, it has some crude oil reserves. In order to adopt electric mobility, should we switch our dependence from crude oil to lithium? He said that there are many challenges but all stakeholders need to work together to move on the path of electric mobility. He said, “We should dream, but dream while keeping the realities in mind. We are doing BS VI now, then we want to go electric? What will happen to the BS VI investment?”
The Indian government is introspecting about various aspects of battery production and allied infrastructure required for electrification of vehicles. Industry experts and research organisations should collaborate and provide expert suggestions to make electrification a sustainable solution in India.
While speaking about the vehicle electrification policy in India, Geete emphasised that electrification of transport is one of the solutions to tackle environment pollution. “Though complete electrification of vehicles by 2030 has been announced, we cannot realise it on our own. The government needs to protect the current auto industry and seek the direction from the industry experts and researchers to decide future course of action,” he said.
To make this policy achievable, the government is implementing it in multiple phases, he said. “By 2020, we are expected to completely shift our vehicles to BS VI engines and then move towards electrification of public and private transport. But for that we must accept the current reality that we import 70 percent of crude oil and for electrification we will be importing lithium necessary for the batteries. We have to carefully craft the policies to meet these demands and save cost incurred by citizens,” he said. He concluded by urging ARAI and auto industry experts present in the conference to guide the government in the right direction to decide the future course of action.
Geete said that his ministry (Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises) understands these challenges and as a result has not made any announcements in this regard. He said that while the government does not have technical people, forums like ITEC 2017 and industry organisations like ARAI should show the right path to the government. However, if the industry shows the wrong path, the government might follow, he cautioned.
Industry voices concern in the race for electromobility
Dr A K Jindal, vice-president and Head - Engineering (CVBU), Tata Motors, voiced the concerns of the auto industry in the race for electrification. He said, “To march towards complete electrification, we need the government’s policy to be stable. We also need to reduce the cost of vehicles by providing consistent subsidies and financial aids till the e-vehicle production attains sustainability. The Indian government must encourage start-ups, innovators and joint ventures of OEMs and vendors in this sector.”
Emphasising the need to develop power infrastructure for e-vehicles in India, Dr Jindal said, “The quality of power provided to charge these vehicles must improve significantly. Continuous voltage and frequency fluctuations may affect EV parts and reduce efficiency. Also, the power may have to be subsidised to encourage wide production and usage of e-vehicles." He added that skill development in the electrification sector must also be encouraged on a larger scale.
Addressing the issues dealt in the ITEC India 2017 conference, Rashmi Urdhwareshe, director, ARAI, said that the conference has helped in understanding the changing technology of hybridisation, battery production and management as well as various innovations that can be useful to India. “To attain the goal of e-mobility, the commitment of all the stakeholders that includes researchers, academia, industry and the government is visible. Such collaboration will definitely take us to our end goal of complete electrification and better environment,” she said.
Dr Akshay Kumar Rathod, associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Concordia University, Montreal, reflected on the proceedings of the conference which featured 120 technical papers, 19 keynotes, 14 plenary sessions and over 100 technical presentations attended by over 700 delegates from 14 countries. “This conference is the second edition of the ITEC India conference. The first was hosted in Chennai in 2015. We have grown three times in this edition compared to the last one. The initiative of the ITEC conference was first started by USA in 2012. ITEC India within two editions has become larger than its counterpart in USA,” he said.
Meanwhile, ARAI has announced its Centre of Excellence of Electric Mobility in Pune which has state-of-the-art-facilities to enable vehicle manufacturers and innovators to test their products to international norms and standards. According to Anand Deshpande, “The centre will have major facilities such as battery emulator, motor test beds, battery test systems and hardware-in-loop (HIL) systems that cover a range of vehicles from 2-wheelers to buses.”
The next edition of the conference is to be held in Bangalore in 2019.
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