Following the Paris Agreement in 2015, India announced its decision to reduce carbon emissions by 2030, steering its drive towards clean mobility. Although steady progress is being made, and conversations around EVs are beginning to grow, India has a long way to go, when it comes to manufacturing ‘made in India’ clean and green vehicles.
Currently, the country is dependent on battery imports from China, that make up at least 50% of the cost of the electric vehicle. For now, India is assembling cells into battery packs.
The other piece of the puzzle is components for electric vehicles. According to US market research company P & S Intelligence, India’s EV component market will grow 22.1% annually up to 2030. The market generated USD 536.1 million in revenue in 2019.
Several of these components come together to generate power required to move an electric vehicle, thus earning itself the name ‘powertrain’. Although most electric cars resemble ICE vehicles on the outside, an EV powertrain requires 60% fewer components than its counterpart.
Components of an EV Powertrain
Some of the main parts of an EV powertrain include battery pack, DC-AC converter and electric motor. The battery pack is made up of multiple lithium-ion cells, and stores the energy needed to run the vehicle. These battery packs provide direct current to the DC-AC converter.
DC-AC converter converts this direct current supplied by the battery pack to AC, which is then supplied to the electric motor. This power transfer is steered by a sophisticated motor control mechanism that controls both the frequency and magnitude of the voltage in order to manage the speed and acceleration in the vehicle.
Electric motor is the crucial component that converts electrical to mechanical energy, which is then delivered to the wheels via single ratio transmission.
The EV powertrain also consists of an on-board charger that converts AC input from a grid (at home, public charging stations or a parking area) to a DC input, thereby controlling the amount of electricity flowing into the battery pack.
Apart from these core parts, an EV powertrain has multiple hardware and software components – Electronic Control Units (ECUs), Battery Management System (BMS), a DC-DC Converter, a Thermal Management System, and Body Control Module (BCM).
Top EV Powertrain Manufacturers
Mahindra Electric is a pioneer in the EV space, having rolled out the Bijlee electric-three wheeler way back in 1999 under its parent company Mahindra and Mahindra.
The company then went on to introduce the e2O and the e2O Plus hatchbacks, alongside the e-Verito sedan and in June 2019 – India’s first lithium-ion three-wheeler – Treo. In early 2020, Mahindra Electric also launched the e-KUV100 at the Auto Expo 2020 as well as showcased the production version of its Atom quadricycle.
However, the company has made a conscious decision of positioning itself as a powertrain supplier, instead of only manufacturing and selling cars. The company aims to be the leading company in enabling “customised electric mobility solutions through cutting-edge technology. The new identity intends to position the organisation as the preferred e-mobility partner for OEMs across the globe.”
“Mahindra Electric is not just an electric vehicle manufacturer. We are a complete EV technology solutions provider and our high-voltage powertrains will soon be exported to international markets like Korea and from there to Europe. We already have a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Bengaluru and soon we will be inaugurating our new EV plant in Chakan that will manufacture high-voltage EV components. We are committed towards making India the global hub for development and manufacturing of electric vehicles,” shared Mahesh Babu, MD & CEO, Mahindra Electric, with The Blue Circle.
“The Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP) under the FAME II will help towards development of EV components here in India which will improve the entire supply-chain. This will also encourage more Indian manufacturers to make EV powertrain in the country as the demand for electric vehicles spike up,” added Mahesh.
Entuple E-Mobility is focussed towards developing indigenous powertrains that are innovative and measure upto the best in the world, in terms of specifications and performance.
“We have an extensive range of powertrains from 450W to 155kW for applications ranging from bicycles to buses. Our powertrain portfolio includes BLDCs, PMSM, Induction Motors, SynRMs (Synchronous Reluctance Motors) and SRMs (Switched Reluctance Motors). These powertrains have been entirely designed and developed by our R&D teams based out of Bangalore and TrEST Park, Trivandrum,” shared Rakesh Mishra, CEO, Entuple E-Mobility, with TBC.
He added that Entuple has in-house manufacturing for mid-motors/ frame mounted motors.
“We are setting up a 150k units per annum hub-motor manufacturing plant in Bangalore which should be operational by October of this year. We also have manufacturing partnerships with reputed EMSs for manufacture of our proprietary controllers and charging stations,” said Rakesh.
Electra EV (Electrodrive Powertrain Solutions)
Electra EV, founded in 2017, is an electric vehicle powertrain and associated solutions company that prides itself in expertise in design, development and supply of powertrains, battery packs, charging infrastructure and associated solutions in passenger and commercial vehicle space.
Its portfolio comprises efficient engineering for design, development, creation of prototypes, homologation support, validation, series supply of powertrain systems and their integration in OEMs production facilities.
Electra EV works with internationally renowned companies and individuals on jointly developing several new cutting-edge technologies in EV markets. The company has developed and supplied powertrains to Tata Motors for their Tigor EV variant. The Electra EV motor outputs a maximum power of 30 kW (40.79 PS) at 4,500 rpm.
In an interview to a media publication, Shailesh Chandra, President, Electric Mobility Business & Corporate Strategy, Tata Motors, shared, “Electra Solutions is serving very well in the fleet segment and their service has made the Tigor EV the largest selling electric car in February 2020. It is selling in huge numbers after the introduction of the 213 km range version. The car makes tremendous sense to fleet operators as they are able to save Rs 6000 to Rs 7000 per month when compared to a diesel vehicle.”
As of June 2020, close to 2000 four-wheelers in India have Electra EV powertrains in them.
Altigreen Propulsion Labs
Focused on full electric drivetrains for last-mile transportation, Bengaluru based Altigreen designs, develops, tests, manufactures (ARAI) type approved components in India. Components include motors, controllers, DC-DC converters, gearbox, transmission, display cluster, IoT based telematics, wire harnesses and all sensors/contactors/PDU.
“We can offer EV solutions for various segments such as two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheeler SCVs, but currently our prime focus is on offering electric drivetrain solutions for commercial three-wheelers that are ARAI-certified,” shared Dr Amitabh Saran, Founder & CEO, Altigreen Propulsion Labs, in an interview with Auto Tech Review.
Rakesh feels that the Indian EV industry is fairly young, and India directly moved into developing complete vehicle platforms without the critical subsystems (such as powertrains, battery cells, etc.) development and manufacturing ecosystem in place.
“Sooner or later, this anomaly would have affected the Industry. The widespread supply chain disruption in the last few months has just accentuated this aberration. Post Covid, we do observe a lot of activity with respect to localisation of critical subsystem supply chain, including powertrains. This is likely to provide momentum to the EV powertrain manufacturing locally. However, we are still far away in terms of product range and volume manufacturing capabilities both of which require significant capital investment,” he added.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)