As part of its focus on promoting electric/hybrid mobility in India under the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) scheme, the Central government has chosen the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) as one of the Centres of Excellence (COEs). The total cost to build the requisite facilities at ARAI is Rs 80 crore. The government has granted Rs 30 crore and the balance will be given next year.
The infrastructure for evaluation of EVs will be part of ARAI's new campus at Chakan, near Pune. "Electric mobility is identified as a key R&D initiative, especially lightweighting of materials which are used in buses. So not only the electric side of it but comprehensive vehicle design changes is what we are working on. So we are looking at it with a real long-term direction for the mobility solutions," Rashmi Urdhwareshe, director, ARAI, told Autocar Professional. "Creating a simulation environment for fast development is also our focus area," she added. A team at ARAI has already developed offline simulators for hybrid and electric vehicles.
ARAI is also working on solutions to convert existing vehicle fleets to hybrid or electric. Public transport is the segment that is attracting the major attention as the gains from conversion in this segment, along with two-wheelers, would be the maximum. "We are parallelly working on all types of mobility sectors. We are thinking of converting the fleet of existing buses into hybrids and electrics," said Mrs Urdhwareshe. She stresses that safety would be a very high priority in developing and evaluating EVs because of the risks associated with such vehicles.
According to plans, India is set to see a population of 5-7 million EVs and XEVs by 2020. Undertaking testing and validation as well as designing of such vehicles, ARAI will have to play its part by offering standard solutions and create a simulation environment for fast development of EVs, while other CoEs also play their roles in realising the FAME vision.