Tata Motors rolls out new EV powertrain tech

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on September 19, 2019 Published on September 19, 2019

Every vehicle made using the ZIPTRON technology will at least have a range of 250 kilometres   -  Chris Ratcliffe

ZIPTRON to propela range of new electric cars starting Q4 FY20

In a bid to speed up adoption of electrical vehicles, Tata Motors on Thursday unveiled a new technology platform aimed at finding solutions to concerns such as range, power, durability, safety and charging infrastructure.

Called ‘ZIPTRON’, this soon-to-be-introduced EV powertrain technology will power a range of Tata electric cars, starting with a new launch in Q4 of FY20. The ZIPTRON technology will primarily serve the personal segment. Currently, Tata Motors does not cater to the personal segment as far as EVs are concerned.

“With this technology, we hope to usher in a new wave of eMobility in India and accelerate faster adoption of EVs, supporting the government’s vision,” said Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors.

Battery and safety

Every vehicle made using the ZIPTRON technology will at least have a range of 250 km, said Shailesh Chandra, President - Electric Mobility Business & Corporate Strategy, in order to address the issue of range anxiety that EVs are otherwise saddled with. The battery, which accounts for the “single biggest cost of an EV”, will have a warranty of eight years, along with the motor, he said. Vehicles developed on this platform will also be capable of fast charging. To address the safety concerns surrounding EVs, these vehicles will conform to the IP67 standard — “the highest standards as far as waterproofing and dusting is concerned”, he said.

“This is how we intend to break the barriers that exist today and make EVs desirable for indian consumers and make it a mainstream choice,” said Chandra. 3.3 million passenger vehicles were sold in the country in 2018, said Chandra, on account of an increase in personal disposable income and low penetration, but, out of this, only 2,027 vehicles sold were EVs. “This means that we are at very early stages of the evolution of electric vehicles,” he said.

The reasons he identified for the low share of EVs in the overall number of PVs are concerns over its range, power, durability, safety and charging infrastructure. Customers are accustomed to the range that conventional vehicles offer, and the consequent range anxiety that emanates from this becomes a constraint.

As for power, the kind of EVs that Indian consumers have been exposed to as of now are known to be sluggish with low performance, said Chandra. The battery, which accounts for the single biggest cost for an EV, and concerns over its durability, as well as the safety of EVs during extreme weather conditions are some of the other reasons, he said. The time taken for charging as well as the dearth of charging infrastructure are other factors, said Chandra.

ZIPTRON has been designed in-house, while also utilising the company’s global engineering network, and this technology has also been tested across 1 million kilometers. ZIPTRON also utilises smart regenerative braking to charge the battery while on the drive.

The demand threshold

Talking about the business case for developing EVs, Chandra said: “From our perspective, when you are talking about investment in EVs, I am not going to develop immediately till you cross a certain level of demand development in the country into a dedicated platform — till it does not give immense sense to a consumer, or it gives enough benefits to the consumers...There’s a clear piggybacking strategy on investments which are already made. These are small incremental investments, but delivering a value proposition for the customer, as far as this is concerned,” adding that it is a robust business case for EVs the company has.

Chandra said that the fleet segment only constitutes 10 per cent of the total industry, whereas 90 per cent of the industry caters to the personal segment. “Electrification in the country cannot be driven by not addressing the 90 per cent...Whatever personal segment (EV) options were there in the market, they did not address the barriers. Therefore, this 90 per cent needs to be addressed with the right attributes and we really see a market for it going forward.

“The second reason is that if you just focus on fleet, there is a danger that the personal segment would start associating an electric car with taxi and that would be very bad for electrification, for the country...It is possible to make (personal) electric vehicles very attractive. And that is our intention when we launch the first product (in Q4 of this year),” said Chandra.

Published on September 19, 2019
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