Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland has entered into a strategic alliance with Sun Mobility, a company promoted by Chetan Maini, the founder of electric car Reva, for smart electric mobility solutions. Both the companies will work together to design and develop electric buses to cover short distances, the company said here on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference here, Maini said though this alliance is aimed at for buses, but will be expanded to other mobility offerings of Ashok Leyland, including LCVs. This is a global alliance.
“We have entered into a strategic alliance to develop electric buses with swap and charge battery technology. This is an alliance now and if necessary we will decide on firming into a joint venture,” said Vinod K Dasari, CEO and managing director, Ashok Leyland.
“The first prototype is expected to be rolled out by January 2018,” Dasari said.
The commercial roll out will take at least 12 to 18 months. He added that initially an investment of Rs 100 crore will be made in design, development among other areas. As part of this alliance, Ashok Leyland will design and develop a new motor controller and drive train while Sun Mobility will bring in smart batteries with requisite network of battery stations. In order to make it more cost effective, these stations will be predominantly run by renewable energy, including wind and solar, Dasari said.
“We hope to get atleast 15% of our total bus volume from electric offerings by 2020,” Dasari said. Currently Ashok Leyland has two electric bus offerings – an indigenously developed Circuit range and offerings from its UK subsidiary Optare. Both are catering to long distance drives,” he added. According to Chetan Maini, Sun Mobility will involve itself in setting battery charging swapping stations with renewable energy charging solutions. Since the buses are of short distance/city transport in nature, important points in every metro will be covered with charging/swapping stations. Maini said the solution is suitable for all kinds of vehicles and the tie up with Ashok Leyland is on an exclusive basis.