Pinnacle Industries, one of 20 companies to be selected by the government to benefit from the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, will make its product debut by June offering electric buses made from stainless steel, a first in the industry.

The buses which have been developed in partnership with Netherland-based VDL Group will be one of the two products offered by the joint venture. The other product will be a 1.5-2 tonne mini truck for last mile, intracity usage which will debut by September. All products of the company will be retailed under the brand EKA.

While the Pune-based Pinnacle hasn’t yet decided on the material to be used for the manufacturing of the mini truck as it could be made from composites too, the company is going ahead with stainless steel for the bus coaches.  

Longer life

Sudhir Mehta, Chairman, Pinnacle Industries, said, “The bus is ready and has gone for ARAI homologation. We expect it to be certified soon. We are the first in the country to offer a bus with stainless steel. The benefit is that the life of the bus is 15-20 years compared to other buses which begin to age after just 5 years.”

While the European market does make buses made from stainless steel, the Indian and other global markets are dominated by carbon steel. Stainless steel is less preferred because of high costs.   

“While stainless steel does not rust, it is more expensive than mild steel. However, it is more sustainable and it is also recyclable. Our bus will be 700kg lighter than other electric buses and thus provide 15-20 more mileage than the same capacity battery in competition buses,” Mehta added.

Market expansion

Two battery electric buses have been developed by the company — 9-meter and 12-meter. Designed using a monocoque body, Mehta says the body of the vehicle can be changed as per required because of use of the ‘lego concept’ in designing the body.      

Mehta claims to have spent ₹150 crore towards development of the product and engineering. But for market expansion such as for setting up factories, Pinnacle Industries would require ₹2,000 crore over the next five years. The company is exploring the setting up of plants in Maharashtra for the mini truck and Madhya Pradesh for the electric bus.      

“We will raise funds in future. The plants will require funding. In phases we will raise the funds. We are starting the fund-raising process and we will figure out soon,” Mehta added.