Charge of the electric brigade
An already charged-up Indian automotive industry is set to get a different kind of a charge soon with electric cars jostling for space with their internal combustion peers.
And in its biggest ever investment in electric technology, Renault (along with its ally Nissan) will invest four billion Euros in its zero emissions programme. A 2,000-strong team is already working on EVs. Renault estimates that EVs will capture a 10 percent market share in the global automotive industry by 2020. Renault’s partner – Nissan’s Leaf (an EV) project got a shot in the arm when British prime minister David Cameron approved a 20 million Euro loan to produce the Leaf and lithium-ion batteries for it at the Sunderland plant. It’s the same plant where the Micra was produced before its production was shifted to India. More power, longer driving range Gone are the days when users had to limit their travel due to the short driving range of EVs. The Reva, for example had a very low driving range of only 80 km. Its to-be-launched sibling NXR’s driving range will be double that. The top speed has also gone up from 80kph to 104kph (with the boost mode for short bursts of power).
Like in utility vehicles, there’s competition between M&M and Tata Motors for EVs too. Tata Motors, which acquired a 50.3 percent stake in Norway’s Miljø Grenland/Innovasjon which is engaged in developing innovative solutions for EVs, plans to introduce electric versions of the Nano, Indica and the Ace. It had also received a £10 million loan, under the UK government’s Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP), to develop and manufacture the Tata Indica Vista EV in the UK with an investment of £25 million. The Indica Vista EV is expected to offer up to 200km of driving range in one full charge and a 0-60kph sprint under 10 seconds. Electric vehicles (EVs), which have so far formed an exclusive segment promoted primarily by the pro-green users, will very likely drive towards becoming a mainstream segment by 2012.
The recent Mahindra & Mahindra-Reva Electric Car Company deal in which M&M acquired a 55.3 percent stake in the company is a major boost to drive this space. Reva, now Mahindra Reva, has been a leader in EV technology, but it hasn’t made any headway in making affordable cars for its potential customers. In its 14-year history, Reva has sold just over 3,000 cars in India and abroad. Even with this small number, it has the world’s largest fleets of electric cars on road. But with the M&M deal, it may no longer remain a niche player.
The Reva-M&M deal reflects a new trend in the global industry. M&M’s move comes close on the heels of a similar deal between Japan’s Toyota and US-based Tesla Motors.
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