India's massive middle class has long grappled with the fluctuating fuel costs. While there are a few fuel-efficient vehicles, dependence on fuel for transportation persists, and doesn't seem to change anytime sooner. From customers' point of view, they don't have much of options either. Electric vehicles haven't gone mainstream as yet, though we have seen a few electric cars such as Reva running on streets. ETI Dynamics, a relatively lesser known name, is working to give customers a solution that can reduce dependence on conventional fuel for transportation. It has just launched a hybrid vehicle that is powered by electricity and solar energy.
ETI Dynamics' new vehicle is a compact scooty that features a canopy of bendable solar panel. The company claims the vehicle, which hasn't gotten its official name and is in prototype stage, can run 50 kilometers on single charge and can hit top speed of 45 kmph. The solar power further adds up to about 15-20 kilometers for more efficiency. The vehicle design resembles a scooty coupled with ceiling golf-cart. The handle resembles the contemporary bikes, while the wheels are relatively smaller and slimmer. The vehicle can accommodate at least two people (though light weight ones), while the rear of the seat has a small storage box. There are a few smart features as well – you can locate charging stations and monitor battery performance through mobile apps. The company plans to launch the vehicle for around Rs. 50,000. In terms of implementation, the company hopes to see equal adoption in the enterprise segment such as for delivery and other small-distance transportation.
Rajneesh Wadhwa, Chief Operating Officer, ETI Dynamics explains, “The electric vehicle market hasn’t yet taken off in India due to high costs and lack of charging infrastructure. This is because the technology is restricted to very few platforms like cars. We need the entire eco-system to come up simultaneously which is what we are working on. Just like any electronic marketplace needs a critical mass of buyers and sellers to succeed, the same way electric mobility needs a large number of vehicles with an elaborate charging stations network to succeed. We are committed to bringing new technologies on the road coupled with charging infrastructure coming up at the same time.”
“The company will initiate pilots in 5-6 cities in India immediately in the coming months and expects the first batch of vehicles plying commercially on the road in the next 12 months. ETI Dynamics is working with a range of vehicle manufacturers and engineering institutions to bring prototypes to road. It is also creating a number of mobile phone applications that will help consumers locate charging stations, make payments, monitor battery performance etc.,” adds Sanmit Ahuja, Chief Executive, ETI Dynamics. “The company is also in active dialogue with the Digit Group of USA and in partnership with Sunon Energy of India to transform the community and charging landscape in urban areas.”
ETI's vehicle is still in its prototype stage. We're likely to see a final product perhaps later this year or starting next year. As pointed out by Rajneesh Wadhwa, an eco-system for such vehicles is very important. Also, support from the state governments can also propel this segment. Recently, the government announced subsidy on electric vehicles, which allows customers to buy these vehicles at a significant discount. Though the government subsidy is a welcome move, manufacturers are apprehensive about inflating costs (including infrastructural and technology) that may impact the segment. There has to be focus on the awareness as well. According to a recent analysis on Livemint, the electric/hybrid vehicles segment faces a host of issues. “The incentives will help but is unlikely to swing demand in favour of electric vehicles in a big way given the high acquisition costs and the technology related issues,” Livemint quotes Rakesh Batra, head of automotive sector at consultancy EY as saying.
What do you think about the solar electric hybrid vehicle? Do you think these vehicles have future in India? What possible challenges do you foresee? Let us know your views @digitindia Also check out a few close ups of ETI Dynamics' new vehicle here