Electric vehicles are seeing an increase in India, and with the launch of the Hyundai Kona and the Tata Nexon, EVs have addressed ‘Range Anxiety’ for many. Fast forward to the present day, there are several EVs to choose from, both two and four-wheelers. The recent launch of the Ola electric scooter and Simple have proved that battery-powered vehicles are on par with petrol-driven ones.
There are multiple contributors for manufacturers to develop EVs directly, or indirectly. One such company in India that is looking at supporting the electric vehicle movement is NXP Semiconductors, a Dutch company, headquartered in Eindhoven, Netherlands, that focuses on the automotive industry. The company has one of its design centres in India, one of the largest in the world for NXP.
Express Mobility, in an interview with Sanjay Gupta, the Vice President and India country manager, discussed various topics around the company’s role, and strategy towards building a robust EV ecosystem for the Indian market.
“The EV market globally is explosive. When you look at the EV market 10 years ago, the policies, regulations, availability of technology, and even the political will were not very clear. Today, everything is coming together never before. From the technology point of view, NXP has pumped in millions of dollars into R&D to develop electric vehicles,” says Sanjay Gupta.
“The EV market consumer currently faces two situations — Can I charge my car fast enough, and can I run my car long enough. These two challenges translate to NXP Semiconductors directly in terms of battery management systems and power control systems.”
Given the two challenges, convincing consumers to switch to electric vehicles is not easy. Sanjay Gupta says, “India is one of the countries known for its bad air quality. Cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, etc., are some of the most polluted cities in the world, which is not good. If we can move towards EVs, we will be doing a social cause towards health, as this is important. Nobody will understand this better than us, having suffered the most during the Corona wave.” He adds, “EVs will also help save money in the long run. The initial investment is more, but the reoccurring cost is much lower when comparing EVs to ICE vehicles, as EVs don’t have as many moving parts compared to a petrol or a diesel vehicle.”
“The other way to implement EVs faster is to standardise charging stations and chargers across the country. We have been working closely with the government of India to make them standard, so the experience of owning EVs will be seamless. One of the challenges is that India does not have a standard when it comes to chargers (be it AC, DC, the volts, etc.). Unfortunately, we have created various standards over time, and this has to change quickly to charge cars by different automakers.”
The Indian government is doing its best to promote electric vehicles in India. The government offers subsidies to carmakers, automotive component manufacturers, and even end customers. But can this be improved in some way? Can we learn from other countries? “We can look at Chine and learn,” says Sanjay Gupta. “In the last few years, China has become a notable country in the EV space. China offered a lot of incentives to EV buyers, and India can do something similar, like give electric car buyers an income tax rebate, which, although is small, can promote the government’s goal of increasing EVs on road. Another approach can be free parking facilities.”
“But what will make the most impact is the standardisation of charging facilities to offer seamless recharges or mandating every petrol station to have an EV charger. We need to eradicate the fear of owning an electric car that makes people think they’re stuck once they buy an EV. And on the industry’s part, we need to offer customers the best technology possible and a high-quality experience. We need to make them more convenient, efficient, and safer.”
Sanjay adds, “The industry should look at making batteries last longer. Integrating better technology where the battery communicates with the car to turn off devices when the battery is low or find the nearest charging station are some of the things NXP Semiconductors is working on.”
When speaking about electric vehicles, some prefer long-range, while others favour quicker recharge intervals. Speaking on this, Sanjay says, “India does not have the US or European culture that sees people travel more than 300 kilometres a day on a day-to-day basis. This is a small percentage. For the majority, if the range can last a 100 km journey, that addresses almost 90% of the users and this is good for now. In the long run, long-range and quick charging intervals need to be developed side by side. To really penetrate the market, manufacturers will have to break all barriers and look at possibilities of charging batteries by the time one finishes a coffee.”
NXP is working on three trends related to automobiles. First, battery technology, battery management system, vehicle electronics, and charging infrastructure. The second trend is about seamless payment systems that allow you to pay automatically when charging an EV. The technology NXP is working on allows payments as soon as the car is plugged in, enabling the charger to know the vehicle details. The money is automatically deducted from a digital wallet, something like the fast tags. And finally, driverless cars. More on these trends soon.