Rashmi Urdhwareshe: ‘Some interesting EV technologies are now matured and ready for transfer to interested parties.'

by Sumantra B Barooah 08 Mar 2020


Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), India's premier automotive R&D and certification organisation opened a new Center of Excellence (CoE) for electric mobility in Chakan, near Pune, last month. In this exclusive interview, Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI, also the first lady in this role, speaks about the CoE, localisation of EVs, and projects that are underway at the CoE. Urdhwareshe, who joined ARAI as a trainee engineer, will retire at the end of this month. She also shares her experience about her 36-year "exciting and eventful'"career in the automotive industry. Urdhwareshe has just been conferred the prestigious  Nari Shakti Puraskar for the year 2019.

What are the key highlights of ARAI's new CoE for electric mobility? Is there any plan to expand it further?
The major highlight of the CoE is that it’s an integral part of a larger Centre, namely CoE on Green Mobility. Our teams are working closely with the industry partners to develop sustainable mobility solutions and e-mobility is one of them. Alternate fuels (CNG/ Biodiesel, Methanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen) offer various degree of technical feasibilities and commercialisation aspects. No single solution is fit for all for wide spectrum of Indian landscape.

Hybrid powertrain development, lightweight materials and structures, and energy storage technologies are some of the other broader areas for us. This CoE is aimed at providing comprehensive services in product development, optimisation of designs, testing/ validation and in the end, type approval/ certification.

Localisation of EV technologies is key for the industry to scale up in India. Can you share any examples of efforts at ARAI in this direction?
Localisation of EV technologies and critical components are key for affordability and scale of EVs in India. It is precisely for this reason that the Department of Heavy Industry, government of India has stipulated the Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) for FAME-2 eligibility for electric vehicles.

ARAI has been assisting industry in its localisation efforts in terms of design and development, testing, validation and certification. ARAI has developed Battery Management System (BMS), AC/DC charging stations as per Bharat EV/CCS/CHAdeMO. Currently, we are working on developing electric axle (rear axle with electric motor and gearbox) for electric three-wheelers. We intend to transfer technologies developed in-house to the industry

How much investment has been made in the new CoE for electric mobility? 
The total investment is over Rs 100 crore.

Has there been any patent filed under electric mobility by ARAI? If yes, please share details.
Some of the interesting technologies that are developed in the space of e-mobility are now matured and ready for transferring to interested parties.
Some such examples are summarised as below:

ARAI has developed BMS, EV charging stations and an e-axle for an electric three-wheeler is under development. Besides, we have developed an innovative hybrid electric solution for motorcycles. We are also working on a fast-charging solution for electric two- and three-wheelers. Some of these technologies will be patented and offered to industry for commercialisation / mass manufacture.

How would you define your experience as a professional? Any interesting experiences/ anecdotes?
Thirty-six years in the automotive industry have been both exciting and eventful. During this period, I have handled technological transformations, was instrumental in pushing the rapid growth of safety and emission regulations, worked through the global competitive scenario along with Indian Industry and lots more.

I am now in the phase of consolidation of my thoughts, wisdom and experiences. With a rapid-paced career nearing completion, I am planning to allow myself some peace and personal space. Several experiences are worth sharing with industry professionals, but give me some time!

It's good to see the growing level of participation by women in the automotive industry, and other sectors too. What, according to you, are the unique qualities that a woman professional brings that add value to any project / organisation?
Women bring a very different perspective to their work and projects. After all, 50% of the world belongs to them! Management must be mindful of this aspect and exploit it to the fullest in the larger interest.

Women are also extremely committed, focused and the majority of them are ethics oriented – Immensely critical for building strong and successful organisations. Their ability to multitask offers them an excellent opportunity to excel and score over their male colleagues!

Any new project/plan you have in mind to pursue once you retire from ARAI?
Yes, most certainly, but break ke baad!

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Rashmi Urdhwareshe conferred 2020 Nari Shakti Puraskar