India is planning for compulsion of use of EV’s by 2030. Government’s think tank NITI AAYOG has proposed that only electric vehicles should be sold after 2030. When we think about faster adaption of EV in India to support clean environment initiative, lot of steps are being taken like subsidy under FAME scheme by central government. But, do we know whether a quicker adaption of EVs would be to India’s greatest interest? Whether the EV technology we are using is good enough? Will this fastest adaption will lead our country to be dependent on other nation like China, Russia or any other EU countries?
Answers are clear. We simply need to focus at most critical component of an EV – the battery. What role the IC engine is playing for petrol and diesel vehicle, the battery is playing for EV. As of now, all EVs use lithium-ion batteries. It is the restrictions of lithium-ion batteries that will prevent the board adaption of EVs across the country. lithium-ion batteries are costly and don’t support long distance journey. More awful, raw materials required to manufacture Lithium-ion batteries are rarely found. Below explanation will help to understand the seriousness of the issue.
The battery utilized to run an EV is an enormous 500 kg pack comprising of hundreds of lithium-ion cells, each of them contains elements like lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese. Each element is playing vital role. For instance, lithium generates a flow of electrons and help to charge the battery. Cobalt prevents battery overheating. The biggest problem is that, Planet earth does not have enough source of lithium or cobalt required to fulfil the replacement of current cars with EVs.
More regrettable, most mines of these elements are situated in a couple of nations. Thus, 65% of lithium reserves are in Bolivia and Chile, while 60% of cobalt reserves are in Congo. Short supply has made both costly. The serious point here is, the battery represents 70% of the expense of 2-wheeler and 50% of 4-wheeled vehicles.
Consequently, all EV dreams rely upon supply of cobalt and lithium from a couple of nations. This is a major stress for huge players like Tesla and all other countries planning for EV implementation, except for China. Always a long-term planner, China has protected a supply of fundamental metals with buying mines in Congo, Bolivia, Chile and Australia. China controls a 50% of the cobalt mines in Congo.
With raw material supplies set up, China set out to turn into a worldwide battery and EV hub. With good support from government, Chinese holds 60% of worldwide battery business share. China is leading in EV manufacturing and holds 1st position in the world as an EV manufacturer. China also sold million electric vehicles in 2018.
Altogether, an EV is twice as costly as the Petrol & diesel vehicle. No wonder most manufacturers lose money on EVs, which can never replace currently used automobiles without a breakthrough in battery technology.
Understanding this, many nations are putting resources into creating next-gen batteries that would replace Lithium-ion batteries. Panasonic, Tesla, Toyota and Chinese makers are at the cutting edge of research. They are trying to decrease the utilization of costly cobalt. Many organizations are checking the possibility of replacing cobalt with Sulphur, sodium and magnesium.
Utilization of fuel cell is another idea. Fuel cell powered EVs powered by hydrogen, emit only water vapor and warm air. A critical test is to cut down the cost. General Motors and Airbus are member of the global Hydrogen Council which plans to push a transition to fuel cells.
India then has two wide decisions to seek after EV dreams. First, purchase costly cobalt and lithium improve R&D and make next-gen battery. Or on the other hand, simply import batteries. It is easy to talk but difficult plan for setting up local battery manufacturing factories. Also, difficult to match the costs of subsidized imported batteries.
Most firms are making a choice of importing battery unit. For instance, India imports 90% of electric bike components from China. Currently, an Indian vehicle utilizes 10-15% imported parts. EVs will expand import dependence to 70% or more.
No doubt, EVs are the future of mobility. But the future will happen only when a cheaper next-gen battery is in the market. Work on that is toward the starting stage, and no market-ready batteries are expected before ten years.
Considering the above mentioned, India should not push for Faster adaption of EVs in following ten years. Sky won’t fall. EVs are not new. Japanese EVs came into the market ten years back however they couldn’t make any difference due to lack of battery innovation. Yet, even the new EVs utilize a similar old Lithium-ion battery.
In spite of focusing on faster adoption of EV, India should utilize this opportunity to deal with three issues that are begging to be addressed.
First, plan for the coming disruption in the Automotive industry. EV electric engines produce a consistent torque at all speed, taking out the requirement for car parts like multiple speed transmission framework, clutch and gearbox. No exhaust pipe since the EV is emission free. An EV has 20 moving parts, while a standard petrol or diesel vehicle has more than 2,000.
Hence, when complete adaption EVs will kill most auto part firms. Survivors should move to an industry 4.0 arrangement. India would likewise need to re-skill large number of engine mechanics. They can’t fix EVs due to the advanced electronics. End of conventional roadside engine and vehicle garage.
Second, and, more significant, India should utilize the next ten years window to turn into a pioneer in next-gen battery innovation. This is a good way to seek after EV dreams without being fundamentally depend on any other nation. This will require setting up of a high-aspiration, well-supported foundation headed by a expert. That would be a worthy investing our national pride in.
Third, the ‘EV adoption plan’ should not only focus on changing IC engine operated vehicle to Battery operated vehicle. Market expectation in future will be for smart & intelligent transportation. Vehicle must have ‘Safety features and ADAS features like ‘Lane Keep Assist.’, ‘Front collision Warning’, ‘Blind spot detection’, Driver drowsiness detection etc. EC MobilityAurangabad is working on projects to develop smart vehicle. With its huge and qualified human resources EC mobility‘s aspire is to achieve a target of safe & smart vehicles on Indian road. Thanks to a reliable German technology and tools which is being used by EC mobility to annotate images for building ADAS & AD algorithms.
Here, the point always to be kept in mind is, ‘The future of automotive will not only be ELECTRIFIED, but it will also be AUTONOMOUS and CONNECTED’.