European suppliers race to partner Indian electric 2-, 3-wheeler OEMs

by Ajit Dalvi 02 Aug 2021


‘Make electric parts in India’ is fast becoming a mantra for leading European component suppliers.

Recognising the business potential for significant growth in the electric two- and three-wheeler market, they are joining forces with Indian electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers. The tie-ups and collaboration are either through technology partnership, joint venture agreements or localised manufacturing through their Indian operations.

In FY2019, the 2-wheeler market saw sales of a little over 21 million units and even the pandemic-impacted FY2021 accounted for 15 million units. With petrol prices at a record high of over Rs 100 a litre across the country and state governments offering handsome incentives to two-wheeler buyers to make the shift to electric mobility, it is expected demand will grow sharply in the coming years.

In a recent interview to Autocar Professional, Tarun Mehta, CEO of Ather Energy, said: “There is a ton of demand for EVs from all over the country. With the new subsidy support, I believe as much as 40 percent of the Indian scooter market can go electric over the next five years. The only constraints, however, would be the number of products available to customers and the production capacity,”

Given that nearly 4.5 million petrol-engined scooters were sold in FY2021, the smart electric scooter manufacturer’s co-founder believes that there is potential for 1.8 million or 18 lakh electric scooters to be sold in FY2025.

Brose checks in
Germany’s Brose is the latest to announce its entry into EV component supplies for the Indian market. As revealed by Autocar Professional, Brose, which ranks in the top 40 global automotive suppliers, is likely to supply electric powertrain parts to an Indian OEM in 2022. Brose will manufacture the components – motor, vehicle control unit and power electronics – at its plant in Pune, Maharashtra.

Brose is to showcase its new drive concepts – motor with power electronics on the rear wheel, vehicle control unit on the handlebars for electric scooters – at the IAA Mobility in Munich (September 7-14).

According to Brose, its “compact and lightweight system requires less package space, which has a positive impact on the scooter’s weight. This gives the vehicle an extended range and agile handling. Manufacturers also benefit from a cost-efficient product and have a much easier time expanding their market share thanks to competitive pricing.”

Valeo’s e-powertrain for Omega Seiki
In early July, French supplier and global leader in electrification systems Valeo inked an MoU with Noida-based Omega Seiki Mobility to provide electric powertrains for Omega Seiki's vehicle range.

Valeo’s 48V e-powertrain system (reducer, integrated motor & inverter) along with Powertrain Control Unit (12kW peak power and 6kW continuous power) will power Omega Seiki’s cargo three-wheelers.

Valeo will provide its 48V electric powertrain system (reducer, integrated motor and inverter) along with the Powertrain Control Unit for OSM's cargo three-wheelers. In addition, Valeo will provide the technology integration support to enable Omega Seiki Mobility to hit the market quickly. The companies will also collaborate for upcoming vehicle models to be manufactured by the company in India.

In November 2020, Valeo launched its 48V electric powertrain in India to facilitate affordable electrification for electrified two- and three-wheelers. Valeo produces electric powertrains from its manufacturing facility in Pune, Maharashtra.

Saietta Group partners Padmini VNA
In May 2021, the UK-based Saietta Group announced a partnership agreement with Padmini VNA, one of India’s premier Tier 1 automotive suppliers. The commercial agreement will see Padmini partner with Saietta, a specialist in Axial Flux Technology (AFT) electric motors, to develop new opportunities in India’s electric two-wheeler market. Padmini’s customer base includes many of India’s two-wheeler OEMs including Hero MotoCorp, TVS Motor Co, Bajaj Auto and Royal Enfield.

Padmini VNA will introduce Saietta Group’s  AFT motors in India. AFT can deliver the power and torque required by 100cc+ two-wheelers at just 48V-120V. Being liquid-cooled, it has a significantly higher continuous power than air-cooled e-motors in the hot and humid Indian ambient temperatures.

Commenting on the partnership, Wicher Kist, CEO at Saietta Group, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Padmini as we introduce our axial-flux motor technology to the strategically important Indian market. The Indian two-, three- and four-wheel mobility market is at an important crossroads. It’s time for the democratisation of zero-emissions mobility in India, starting with their most popular form of mobility – motorbikes and scooters.

“Our axial-flux technology offers a winning combination of class-leading performance at the price required for the Indian market and is exceptionally durable and robust. This makes the AFT electric motors the go-to zero-emissions powertrain for 100cc+ motorbikes which is the next sector that will go electric in India,” he added.

Hella sets up EV parts subsidiary in India
Last November, Hella set up a subsidiary company – Hella eMobionics – in India, essentially to cater to the electric two- and three-wheeler segments in a more targeted manner.

In February 2021, Hella eMobionics partnered Pune-based Kinetic Electric Motor Company, the leading manufacturer of DC motors and automotive electricals, with an aim to leverage their synergies to tap the EV market in India.'

 

Strategic alliance between Hella eMobionics and Kinetic Electric Motor has developed 1.2kW-rated BLDC motor. 3kW BLDC traction and hub motors are in the future product pipeline for electric 2- and 3-wheeler applications. 

L-R: Dr Naveen Gautam, Managing Director, Hella eMobionics and Manish Motwani, founder and CEO, Kinetic Electric Motor Company.

While the two companies have already launched a 1.2kW-rated BLDC  motor as part of the ‘strategic alliance’, 3kW BLDC (Brushless Direct Current)  traction motor are currently under development and are slated to be introduced over the next 9-12 months.

Work on high-wattage motor-controller powertrain solutions is also underway to target the growing demand from the electric small commercial vehicles space as well as electric two-wheelers for both personal and commercial use. The pre-calibrated and pre-integrated motor and controller combined solution will target reliability, performance as well as affordability, considering the mass-market nature of vehicles they intend to fit into. The development of the components, their testing as well as manufacturing will be done locally.

Focus on localisation and affordability
With the EV market in India currently witnessing a spike in sales and new investment from the likes of Ola Electric and Ampere Vehicles, the segment is now seen to be moving into the fast lane.

The electric two and three-wheeler segments are set to notch speedy growth. As consumers and companies make the shift from costly petrol or diesel-powered vehicles, fleet owners like logistics and e-commerce companies too are realising the benefits of hugely lower TCO (total cost of ownership) from EVs. This is also driving demand for affordable EVs and in turn the need for high levels of localisation to achieve cost-competitiveness in India’s already value-conscious market.

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