VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV), the joint venture between Volvo and Eicher Motors, is all set to enter the electric bus arena. It is reliably learnt that after Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, who have recently introduced electric buses, the Gurgaon-based VECV is at an advanced stage of development of its new 9-metre-long full electric bus for the Indian market.
VECV has been conducting pilots of its electric buses with select customers across the country. It plans to commercially launch its full-first electric bus, most likely a 9m, medium-duty, 32-seater bus in Q1 FY2018-19.
In a recent conversation with Autocar Professional, Vinod Aggarwal, managing director and CEO, VECV, said, “Before going to trucks, the full EV will happen in passenger transportation, especially buses. Therefore, a lot of work in electric buses is underway. We have developed a 9-metre, full-electric bus on our medium-duty platform with 32-seating capacity. Some of the buses are already been deployed on a pilot basis with few customers.”
Initially, the CV major is expected to introduce only the 9-metre bus with more variants likely to follow. While the battery is imported, the e-bus has beendeveloped by the company and will be targeted at city bus application. The company has yet not formalised the pricing but it is expected to be considerably higher than that of a conventional diesel bus; therefore, initial sales can be expected from the state-run city bus transport bodies.
BUSES TO THE FUTURE
In the commercial vehicle segment, buses are the focus areas for most OEMs going electric. Tata Motors has taken major steps in hybridisation and electrification of its passenger transport offerings and has developed technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles. It has also developed alternative fuel technologies such as CNG, LNG, bio CNG, bio-diesel and fuel cell. The EV developed on proven bus platforms also offer regenerative braking which recovers between 25 to 35 percent of the brake energy.
In October 2017, Tata Motors commenced trials of its 9-metre electric bus with full-auto transmission in Guwahati with a seating capacity of 26-34 passengers. This trial followed its successful trials of the 9-metre electric bus from Parwanoo to Shimla a few months ago, where the bus covered a distance of 160km in one full charge.
Tata Motors says that the trials in Chandigarh showed 'very encouraging' results in a running of 143km, using approximately 70 percent of the charge. Tata Motors claims that it is India's first OEM to get ARAI and homologation certification for its 9m and 12m electric buses.
Ashok Leyland is also foraying into electric mobility space. It currently has four electric bus platforms that are completing full development and are expected to enter production between January and May 2018. The Ashok Leyland Circuit unveiled a year ago, is its – and India's – first domestically manufactured electric bus.
While adoption of full electric buses for public transport is still a few years away, their high capital cost compared to conventional diesel buses means they need to be heavily subsidized by the government. Nonetheless, OEMs are bullish on electric buses and are actively engaged on developmental work in this sphere.
Also read: We are working on various initiatives including digitising our entire sales operation: Vinod Aggarwal, MD and CEO, VECV