Growing demand for EVs in India to impact supply chain dynamics

by Sumana Sarkar 17 Jun 2021


Electrification has emerged as one of the key megatrends and mature markets like Europe and China are taking significant steps to transition their vehicles to the electric era. In fact, Europe targets reducing emission by at least 55 percent by 2030 as part of the EU's broader goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. India is behind the curve compared with the e-mobility leaders but is betting on mass-scale electric mobility.

In a effort to address these evolving dynamics of the EV industry, IHS Markit organised a webinar on the theme of ‘Supply Chain Dynamics Of Electrified Powertrain Components’, in partnership with Autocar Professional on June 15.The webinar highlighted recent technological developments and potential market dynamics of the components driving the automotive electrification wave. It brought to fore the role of the building blocks of all electrified vehicles – the battery, e-motor, and power electronics technology - from mild hybrids to full-fledged battery-electric vehicles ( BEVs ).

The speakers on the panel included:-

  • Anand Kulkarni, Product Line Director – Electric Vehicle & ALFA Architecture - Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors
  • Aakash Minda, Executive Director, Minda Corporation
  • Darshak Parikh, Senior Research Analyst, IHS Markit
  • Raghunandan Balasubramanian, Senior Research Analyst, Powertrain, SCT India, IHS Markit

Autocar Professional’s Executive Editor, Sumantra B Barooah moderated the discussion.

Tata Motors’ Anand Kulkarni: ‘Transition to clean energy is also about investing in future.’


Tata Motors has been in the forefront of the new wave of e-mobility in India. From unveiling the EV powertrain technology called Ziptron to accelerating efforts to creating a conducive ecosystem along with addressing customer anxiety about range and performance, the company has marked its presence in every aspect of the electrification drive.

Anand Kulkarni, Product Line Director – Electric Vehicle & ALFA Architecture - Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors highlighted one of the key reasons for growing EV demand is the potential rise in passenger car penetration in India going forward. He said, “India's passenger car market expected to hit 4 million units by 2027, leading to higher car penetration. The focus should be to improve air quality and put less polluting vehicles into the market."

Higher car penetration will no doubt lead to greater pollution and accident concerns. India has 10 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Traffic congestion and road accidents are some of the biggest mobility challenges in the country. He emphasised the “need for comprehensive well-rounded action to improve air quality in India. New technology, strict emission norms, policies and incentives will help enhance air quality.Choosing appropriate technology will depend on competitive scenarios, govt norms and charging infrastructure."

EVs are seen as one of the key links to cut down carbon dioxide emission from automobiles but it involves a multi-pronged and dynamic plan of action. As Kulkarni highlighted, “Transition to clean energy is also about investing in future.Integration vs ease of serviceability and the impact on TCO will also affect the trend in integration also shifts the dynamics in terms of supply base and supply chain.”

Highlighting the benefits of this transition and the gradual improvement, he expects, “15 percent improvement in energy density of battery tech by 2024-2025 and another 20 percent improvement beyond 2025. Also, 10 percent improvement is expected in packaging efficiency of battery technology going forward. You can expect to see 5-6 percent jump in efficiency levels of EV motors by 2025 and beyond."

The cooling technology plays a crucial role in enhancing both the efficiency and the packaging of the battery technology. According to him, “Selection of a cooling system for EV batteries will be made on the basis of performance attributes and cost. Localisation, innovation and local manufacturing capability/scale are crucial for India to be competitive in the EV market globally."

Minda Corp’s Aakash Minda: ‘The EV industry needs to look at bottom-up scalable models.’



Aakash Minda, Executive Director, Minda Corporation corroborated Kulkarni’s view. According to him, “The EV industry needs to look at bottom-up scalable models and focus on delivering solutions, not just products.”

He brought to context the relative scale of the task by reiterating that the, “Current EV market penetration is only 1 percent of total vehicle sales in India Vs rest of the world. Phasing out of the combustion engine vehicle is at its initial stage. Looking at the overall ecosystem, a complete shift to EVs unlikely to happen in a hurry.”

He believes that, “Auto component players will need to make strategic choices and prioritise capability development will need to be positioned for future. Higher import duties and localisation mandate led to challenges in availability of crucial components. This has hindered availability of ICE-equivalent vehicle options at attractive price points. Battery cells and production hubs are in other countries and this increases our dependence on imports.”

While he outlined that access to technology, demand visibility and standardisation and dependence on commodity are the key challenges in the development of the EV ecosystem in the country, he believes that, “Effective strategy is important to move ahead in the EV gameplan. Early engagement and attractive pricing strategies are crucial. Subsidised investment/incentives and R&D to boost local technologies will help.”

IHS Markit’s Darshak Parikh: ‘Battery capacity in India may remain well below global average.’



The challenge, therefore, is how this can translate into better supply chain linkages in the Indian context. Darshak Parikh, Senior Research Analyst, IHS Markit expects that, “One out of four light vehicles in India produced in 2030 will leverage alternative powertrain technologies. BEV production in India likely to grow at 46 percent CAGR between 2020-2030. BEVs may represent one-third of the alternative powertrain market by 2030.” He believes that “the average battery capacity in India is expected to remain significantly below the global average.”

Despite the projected 21 times compounded growth rate by 2030, it is clear that India’s capacity will still be marginal in contrast to the increase expected in global market. Parikh pointed out that, “In BEV production, expect the Permanent Magnet motors technology to be the most preferred option.” Outlining the potential impact of this on the evolution of the battery chemistry, Parikh highlighted that, “LFP (Lithium-iron-phosphate) is the dominant battery technology in India at the moment. I expect this to decline gradually. Expect that Indian market will transition to NMC High (lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide) battery chemistry by 2026. The average battery capacity of Indian BEVs will still remain shy of 40kWh, affecting the range hence BEV penetration in the region.”

Commenting on the EV charging scenario, he said: "AC charging will remain the dominant mode of charging with 55 percent of EV owners in India charging at home. The majority of battery EVs in the region will support DC charging below 100kW, even in 2030."

IHS Markit’s Raghunandan Balasubramanian: ‘Supply chain will need to diversify.’



This changing trend could augur well for local suppliers. According to Raghunandan Balasubramanian, Senior Research Analyst, Powertrain, SCT India, IHS Markit, “I see lot of opportunities for local suppliers. However, supply chain will need to diversify. Liquid cooling as a technology is going to grow moving forward.Battery cooling technology is mostly hinged on di-electric fluid in addition to PCM."

He expects to see, “Module technology evolution may have impact on thermal management strategy. Solid state batteries and new battery chemistries are on the horizon."

Balasubramanian is bullish on hybrids: “I expect to see a sharp rise in demand for hybrids and EVs in India. 48V mild hybrid technology is expected to grow exponentially in comparison to full hybrids."

Charting out the roadmap for the future, he highlighted that “a dynamic thermal system will be key for safety, performance and the lifetime for next-gen EVs; intelligent thermal management and increased integration will be a growing trend."

Summary
As battery technology continues to evolve and companies are exploring options of different battery chemistries to ensure greater localisation, the panellists put the emphasis on local technologies and global solution as the need of the hour. According to them, while India does lag behind in the EV race at the moment, comprehensive policy moves coupled with supply chain initiatives are the only way to catch up with the rest of the advanced EV world over the next decade.