Tata Motors bets big on electric bus sector : A K Jindal

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Tata Motors, which is well known as a diesel driven commercial vehicle maker, spreading its wings in electric bus sector too. Dr. A K Jindal, Head – Electric Vehicles & Defence Vehicles, Commercial Vehicle Engineering, Tata Motors, reveals the company’s plans to Jaishankar Jayaramiah of Automotive Lead.

Tata Motors is more known as a diesel driven commercial vehicles maker. How to see the company getting in to electric bus sector now?

Our history in electrification and hybridization of buses goes back almost 12 years to 2005. We anticipated the future for the electric/hybrid buses and carried out lot of developmental work.  In fact, we have displayed our first hybrid bus in 2010 in a Motor show in Spain. The whole bus was developed by us and the body was developed by our subsidiary Hispano in Spain. The basics of buses like whole chassis and driveline were developed at our Pune plant and then it was shifted to Spain to build the body and display there. We were the only participant from India in this category and even as compared to other international players too, our product was appreciated much in the show. As an outcome of the show, we got an order from EMT Madrid, the public transport operator in Madrid city to supply 10 units of hybrid buses.  Now cumulatively they have covered around 2 million kilometers with our buses. The buses supplied to Madrid were full low floor with motor of 250 KW CNG series hybrid. In parallel, we have also developed four hybrid buses for Commonwealth Games in India in 2010 and both were very successful. So we have been doing lot of works in this clean energy bus sector, did lot of successful trials and already sold buses too.

Tata Motors Electric BusWhich is your major order in India so far in this sector?

In 2016 we got an order for 25 buses from Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), which is being now executed. We have already supplied 15 buses and rest is ready to supply. We are making hybrid buses for MMRDA in our manufacturing facility run by Automotive Corporation of Goa Ltd (ACGL), a joint venture subsidiary of Tata Motors with the government of Goa. And we are making electric buses at our Tata-Marcopolo joint venture manufacturing facility in Dharwad in Karnataka.

How do you see future for electric buses in India?

Now the movement is towards electrification. Even the latest Nitiaayog report from the government recently stressed upon the electrification of buses. We see this as an opportunity.  In the previous auto show in India, we have displayed our 9-metre electric bus. Now we have developed 12-metre electric bus too. These are on our normal 9-metre and 12-metre platforms. These buses are  doing trials all over the country.  We have done trials in Shimla, Manali, Nagpur, Guwahatiand now we are doing trials in Delhi as well as in Bangalore too. These are battery-driven electric vehicles. The local content cover the basics like chassis, axle, body. As of now motor, inverter and battery are being imported.

Can you speak on government subsidy for E-Buses?

Now the FAME 2 scheme has a subsidy. Infact FAME 1 scheme was only for hybrid buses and not for electric ones but the FAME 2 has covered electric buses too. Now the 60% of the bus cost is subsidized and also the government is giving additional 15% for creating charging infrastructure.

How do you compare yourself with your competitors and when you will get into commercial scale of production?

Our energy management is very efficient and power consumption is very low. And obviously, we are the most cost effective and efficient vehicle makers.  We are almost ready for the commercial production. Now the FAME 2 scheme is announced. The buyers are in the process of getting clearance from the government and submitting their proposal to the Ministry of Heavy Industries for subsidy. Once they get nod, there will be good business in this sector. Almost all states are in the race. Around 20 cities are looking to strengthen their public transport system with electric buses.

Pleas talk on public transport market in India?

The size of government owned buses in cities today stands at around 30,000 – 40,000 units across the country. As per researches taken out by various organizations, India needs more than 600,000 buses for city transportation. The supply-demand gap is huge and there is abundant potential for buses in public transport sector.

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Jaishankar Jayaramiah is a well-known India-based award-winning international Journalist and columnist, who is familiar for his multi-subject expertise, especially in business Journalism. Many of his write-ups remained as game changers in the Indian trade industry while also guiding the government to chalk out its policies. An Engineer-turned Journalist Jayaramiah has worked for Autocar Professional, The Financial Express, The New Indian Express and Automotive World among others before joining Automotive India News. He has extensively traveled across the country, writing on multiple subjects and also visited countries like Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hongkong, Sri Lanka, Maldives etc. Don’t wonder if you find a story on coffee or agriculture or even on politics when you Google his details as he has written on almost all subjects during his 18-year journey so far in Journalism. While keeping automotive as main beat all along his career, he has also covered all other verticals under Old & New Economy. For the past few years, he has been focusing only on B2B Automotive niche. Personally he likes to write more on the government policies; international trends related to automotive industry and new auto technologies.