Electric vehicles have been trending in the automobile industry since the beginning of the 21st century. Several tech companies like Tesla have created world-class e-cars and e-buses. Maglev train in South Korea and Solar Impulse 2, an e-aircraft have revolutionised the industry. These vehicles are just as efficient as normal vehicles and help save the environment from air pollution.
In India, there’s been a wave to adopt new technologies and create a similarly advanced market ecosystem, as the developed countries. E-vehicles can change the current situation of many cities like Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Kolkata. E-vehicles are not restricted to cars, there are also buses, rickshaws, aeroplanes and trains which can run on electricity.
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E-vehicles can function using different pathways of energy source. These vehicles are equipped with electric motors which help the vehicle to run using the generated electricity. The electricity can either be provided through collector systems or can be self-contained (using batteries). Solar panels are also used to run e-vehicles along with an electric generator, which helps in converting fuel to electricity.
India’s Race To The Unconventional Market
In India, the e-vehicle market is at a nascent stage. Since most of the private companies couldn’t scale this idea to a larger audience. The e-vehicle market is now in the hands of the government. In Jan 2018, several cabinet ministers proposed the commercial use of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) Lithium (Li) ion battery technology for e-vehicles. The government aims to promote the use of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) and decrease India’s dependence on oil imports, this could easily bring down the alarming state of air pollution in India. According to reports, there are 170 million two-wheelers in India currently being used, these vehicles draw out 34 billion litres of petrol every year.
The lithium-ion battery is one of the feasible options for the Indian e-vehicle market. Since the imported fuel is costing the government a lot of money, there’s an increase in demand for alternative fuel. Lithium-ion batteries require three components, namely, cell to battery packaging manufacturing, cell manufacturing and battery chemicals. The batteries require elements like Li, cobalt, manganese, nickel and graphite. Currently, the batteries are imported from Japan and China. The government aims to cut down on this dependence as well, ISRO’s technology has been accepted by the government to manufacture Lithium-ion batteries in India and use them in vehicles.
After the proposal by the ministers to take ISRO’s project into reality. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), an institution under ISRO collaborated with NITI Aayog to transfer its technology to other companies. This project aims to push startups and industries into Li-ion battery manufacturing. These batteries can be used for different purposes of power storage such as in phones, laptops, camera and other portable gadgets. The organizations selected 14 Indian companies for this project. The license fee for the project is Rs.1 crore, the startups have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with VSSC for the technology transfer. The union aims to add 175 gigawatts (GW) to the renewable energy capacity of India by 2020.
Under the Make In India initiative, the government is ready to invest in e-vehicle adoption in the market. To cut down costs, it is supporting indigenous companies to build Li-ion batteries. The initiative also involves the construction of efficient charging infrastructure, since electric vehicles need charging as their fuel. NITI Aayog is proceeding forward with the objective to increase the efficiency of these vehicles by changing the chemistry of the batteries to produce more power and using better tyres and electric motors. One of the key points to improve the vehicles’ performance is to enhance the aerodynamics and reduce the weight of the machine. India needs to expand its electric power by 10 GWh of cells by 2022, this can be done by recycling Li-ion batteries efficiently and secure the main constituents of the battery.