- Category: Indian News
- Published on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 12:14
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 831
Biggies eyeing India with hope and trepidation
Word has it that GM is developing a compact pure electric car for the Indian market. The car is likely to be based on the Electric Networked Vehicle (EN-V) concept electric car-a GM/SEGWAY collaboration- showcased in China in 2012.
General Motors was set to launch the electric version of the Spark in collaboration with the Reva Electric Car Company (RECC) in 2012. However GM pulled out of this when Mahindra announced its acquisition of RECC. GM now plans to be an independent entrant with its own brand of electric car for the Indian market.
While this may sound like good news to electric car enthusiasts in India one wonders how long GM's proposed all -electric car will keep the smiles on the faces of its potential Indian owners. The history of the electric car in India has been a checkered one. Apart from the high costs of ownership there were battery and component problems to contend with. It is unfortunate that this initial taste of electric vehicle ownership in India has not been entirely sweet for many. One can only hope that it does not deter new supporters (and buyers) of electric mobility in India.
The GM name may wrought some mileage initially through brand power and its rather well networked retail and service points. But a lot will depend on dedicated services made available to its fraternity of Indian electric car buyers.Batteries – their life,quality and replacement costs – will also dtermine success or failure in the final analysis.
We also ask if the popularity of electric cars should be left to the markets alone to define and influence?. The government's role in influencing public purchasing behavior is markedly absent in India. Unlike in China there is very little that governments have done to promote extensive use of electric transportation either in the private or public realms. A national electric vehicle policy is still hanging,presumably beaten out by the automobile lobby. Additionally a supporting ecosystem (public charging facilities) and legislations (pollution credits, parking fee waivers and other incentives) are also needed to help set the electric ball rolling. This is and continues to remain Indian's biggest barrier to the acceptance of electric vehicles on larger scales. More than being strange it is alarming that India has not as yet woken up to the potential electric transportation holds for its burgeoning masses,crowded roads and polluted cities. What will it take to tip the status quo – a severe fuel crisis or a pollution pandemic..??
In the meanwhile let us welcome GM and hope their electric cars can start a new chapter in the history of electric transportation in India.
- Category: World News
- Published on Saturday, 16 March 2013 14:48
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 645
Worldwide industry and commercial EV market on an upward trajectory!
Electric Vehicle (EV) technology and production is still in its infancy. It has yet to gain technological maturity and commercial viability to become as ubiquitous as the common automobile or motorcycle. But trends show that it is on this path and it is only a matter of time before a tipping point is reached and the age of electric transportation is formally ushered in. It is too early to read the signs now but industry watchers aver that good things are going on.
Despite its slowness and setbacks the hybrid and pure electric vehicle business is set to continue an upward trend through 2013, posting profits and growth in most sectors. Maximal growth seems to be happening in the area of commercial vehicles as opposed to personal - passenger transportation. For eg.the market for pure electric mobility vehicles for the disabled and the handicapped is growing strongly. The elderly and obese too are driving this new market with their determination to stay mobile and even move about indoors. Taiwan currently accounts for about 70% of the global output of mobility vehicles for the disabled. However this market share is likely to be eroded from 2013 as many others are poised to enter this lucrative segment.
Buying electric vehicles primarily for payback is on the rise. Again this is not happening in the automobile segment. An electric golf car has long been cheaper to buy and use than an internal combustion one,more so now with the introduction of long range,lighter lithium-ion batteries. Hybrid outdoor forklifts are also seen to 'pay back' well through reduced maintenance, reduced fuel costs and longer life along with intangible bonuses like reduced noise and pollution. Pure electric and hybrid/electric buses are already exhibiting superior costs of ownership with each passing year for the municipalities and city councils that introduce them.
The rising use and deployment of electric mission critical vehicles by the military is a big boost to the electric commercial vehicle industry and market. This decision anticipates a 70% reduction in fuel requirements. Boeing is considering making its airliners go electric when on the ground. This 'advanced move' (it is calculated) will save the airlines millions of dollars a year when clean electric power replaces megawatts of inefficient, noisy and polluting jet engine power when taxiing. Pure electric helicopters are getting better with each test flight. They are likely to become commercail quite soon.
These developments in the commercial (non automobile) sector is likely to entyce component and system suppliers to follow these new and promising vehicle segments rather than queuing up behind pure electric cars whose time,sadly, has not come.
- Category: Indian News
- Published on Thursday, 28 February 2013 13:43
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 712
Electric cycles in India : a mixed bag of potential and problems!
Despite the staggering fact that there are millions of cycles on Indian roads (rural and city),cycling is becoming alien to Indian transportation culture. It has been sidelined heavily by the motorcycle that is finding its way into ever growing social segments of Indian society. Traffic congestion in Indian cities makes it hazardous if not impossible for bicycle use in urban areas. The conventional bicycle has become something of a rarity upon Indian city roads. Big Indian cities now witness the queer spectacle of small numbers of bicycle enthusiasts setting out at the break of dawn for a couple of hours of uninterrupted riding in the suburbs and the outskirts before the onset of rush hour. Weekends will see them pedaling out on the freeways that exit their cities. Sadly though Indian freeways do not have lanes for bicycles.
It is this latent interest in sports cycling that keep Indian cycle makers look out for new market niches.
Electric cycles caught the brief fancy of middle-upper classes when petrol prices started spiking from 2010 on. But cumbersome batteries and uncongenial driving conditions keep that potential market from growing faster. The country's biggest cycle makers - BSA and Hero – have taken note of the potential for electric cycles that appeal to a young generation keen on fitness. This is a small but lucrative market and the coming year will see the presence of high end electric cycles priced at Rs.50,000 and above kitted with light, long range,long life lithium ion batteries.
While this segment is believed by the industry to have growth potential, the same cannot be said for the low-end electric cycles currently selling for around Rs.15,000 with poor design and ponderous lead acid batteries. However, a transition to lightweight lithium ion batteries for this segment is under consideratio in a fervent attempt to stimulate this market as well.
The near future could witness the emergence of reliable, rugged and affordable elctric cycles for a large and varied Indian market. Funnily enough, cycles hold out more hope than scooters and bikes in the electric category in India presently.