The Indian Auto LPG Association has requested the government to defer its plans to expand the country’s fledgling EV sector for now, and instead focus on using LPG (liquified petroleum gas) as a cleaner alternative for the already struggling conventional auto sector. The latter has been badly hit by the coronavirus-imposed national lockdown, which has caused demand for new cars to plummet, and the OEMs are reportedly losing as much as Rs1,000-2,000 crore ($133-266 million) every day. The manufacturers are struggling to sell their inventory of BS-IV vehicles as well, despite oil-marketing firms having switched over to BS-VI fuel.
However, India’s Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) has reported that sales for electric two-wheelers jumped by 20.6% in 2019 to 156,000 units — with electric scooters accounting for 97% of the numbers. Electric buses did even better with 50% higher sales, while electric cars sold 5% fewer units (5,500) due to the lack of bulk purchases and some models being discontinued. Yet, SMEV says acceptance for premium electric cars is on the rise, and that post-Covid-19, 2021 could be an important year for the Indian EV market.
US army considering electric Humvee successor for tactical benefits
The United States army is considering the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as a replacement to the fuel-guzzling Humvee (Hummer), and it could be all-electric. The JLTV could be powered by solar and/or portable nuclear power, which would be of advantage to US troops in remote locations. They currently drive Humvees powered by a 6.6-litre V8 diesel engine.
Fuel supply lines are a weak link in the army’s plans as they are attacked by terrorists. Fluctuating fuel prices also make cost projections difficult, and a nearly-silent JLTV could be used to get much closer to targets. Reports suggest the Pentagon could order 50,000 JLTVs and deploy them for 20 years.
China: EV subsidies to be cut by 10% in 2020, but extended till 2022
The Chinese government has cut EV subsidies by 10% this year, starting April 23, on “new energy vehicles” that are priced below 300,000 yuan ($42,376), but the 2015 decision to fully phase out subsidies in 2020 has likely been deferred. EV subsidies have now been extended till 2022 — possibly as a measure to shore up declining sales in the world’s largest EV market.
This implies that the subsidies will be scaled back by 20% in 2021 and by 30% in 2023. However, commercial EVs will be exempt and EVs in general will be prioritised in purchases for government use.
Australia launches battery programme to boost residential energy storage
Australia has launched a pilot, interest-free loan scheme for homeowners to opt for battery systems, and will target 300,000 installations over 12 months. The scheme has been kicked-off in New South Wales with a 13.5 kW Tesla Powerwall system, and will cost buyers between AUD 9,000-14,000, depending on whether the systems are coupled with solar panels.
The country is home to the Tesla-built, 129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve, which has saved the state of South Australia from debilitating power cuts following repeated shutdowns at its coal power plants — and is partly responsible for raising awareness about battery energy storage.
Indian engineering students develop 80km e-scooter for ₹1 lakh
Six mechanical engineering students from Tamil Nadu have re-purposed a petrol scooter into an e-scooter that runs for 80km on a single charge and would currently cost Rs1 lakh (~ $1,300). Called the Fuerzo (Spanish for force), the vehicle was initially to be scrapped, but was turned into an e-scooter after its 12-litre petrol tank compartment was converted to house the battery.
The Fuerzo can support a payload of 250kg, drive at a top speed of 35kmph and would reportedly cost a mere ₹20 to recharge. The students have also said that under mass production, it could be manufactured at ₹60,000-70,000 (~$900-1,000). In comparison, while most electric scooters are priced at around a similar figure, the ones with driving range in excess of 100km and speeds of over 50 kmph currently retail at around ₹1,10,000.