EV technology challenges discussed at VDMA symposium

(From left) Rajesh Nath, Managing Director of VDMA, Shivayogi C Kalasad, Managing Director of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and Peter Schmid, Head of Administration, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bengaluru at the inauguration of Electric Mobility – Disrupting Technology in the Transportation Industry in Bengaluru on Thursday, November 21, 2019. (DH Photo/Janardhan B K)

Range anxiety among consumers, battery technology and cost and latest technologies in electric vehicles (EVs) were some prominent subjects in the Electric Mobility – Disrupting Technology in the Transportation Industry Symposium in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The symposium was organised by the VDMA India along with the VDMA E-Mobility Forum, Frankfurt. VDMA is the German Engineering Federation.

India is on the path to electric mobility but completely moving to EVs from internal combustion engines (ICE) is some distance away. Environmental pollution due to ICE vehicles, the challenges of electrification and technological advancements were discussed.

Chief guest Shivayogi Kalasad (MD, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) said: “In the past few years, there have been many challenges. The world is moving on to ensure we are in more liveable conditions. Various countries have adopted methods for cleaner mobility. The NITI Aayog is also working on cleaner mobility. FAME 2 is aiming for faster manufacturing and adoption of electric mobility in India.”

“Karnataka is one of the 10 states to have taken a lead with a separate policy in 2017. We are now in the process of adopting 400 electric buses, both for within Bangalore and inter-city mobility.

“Also, youngsters are investing time, energy and money to help us in this revolution. It is a matter of time before electric is adopted but there are challenges. The bane of Indian society is the pride in owing a car and it is seen as a status symbol,” he added.

Speaking in his welcome address, Rajesh Nath (MD, VDMA India) explained: “With 30 per cent electric penetration by 2030, there will be millions of tonnes of oil savings. However, EVs are less than 1 per cent of passenger sales now.

“Also, there is concern about end of life disposal of lithium ion batteries,” be added.

He also informed that Karnataka aims to become an EV manufacturing hub and also for developing battery technology, while other states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu are also taking steps towards EVs.

“The German government aims to put one million EVs on its roads by 2020,” he informed.

Peter Schmid (Head of Administration, Consulate General of Germany in Bengaluru) said: “Electric mobility only works as a complete system, including charging systems. The other problems are limited products and range of vehicles. Germany and India will work towards low carbon mobility.”

He said that Norway aims to go totally electric by 2025, Denmark by 2030 and Sweden is on the fast track to installing charging points.

Christian Kunze (Deputy MD, E-Mobility Forum, VDMA Frankfurt) said: “Innovation has decreased in the small and medium companies. The innovators are the big players and we also need to think exponentially.

“Battery manufacturing is going to be the big thing in the future. But we need to bring down the cost of lithium ion battery production and that can be done by mass manufacturing. It is also about recycling which means less mining because it is ecological,” he added.

The first speaker in the technical session was Vineet Martin (Managing Consultant, EAC India): “We have just around 250 public charging stations in India.

“The government is helping in securing lithium from Bolivia, whose government claims to have 70 per cent of the world’s reserves. The government is also working on a recycling policy for lithium ion batteries,” he added.

He said that the plan of one charging station in a 3 Km range in cities and 25 Km on highways is being worked on.

Vinay Shenoy (MD, Infineon Technologies India) stated: “The battery pack is 43 per cent of the cost of the car and we should find ways of bringing the cost down.

Making another point, he said: “The majors are struggling with electric vehicles, but small companies are churning out EVs. EV scooters have Bluetooth and such technologies and such start-up products are appealing to the younger generation.

“E-rickshaws have gained ground but not by the bigger players. They are assembled by small metal fabricators. It makes sense if such kits are available in India. We should organise ourselves across the value chain to build a local ecosystem,” he added.

Harshal Desai (E-Mobility Specialist, Schaeffler India) said: “Hybrid technologies are very expensive to develop. That is why, for example, PSA-Fiat have come together to work on this. Indian companies should go this way and save cost.”

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