Tata Motors, which had unveiled the electric version of the Ace light commercial vehicle (LCV) in May, will start its customer deliveries this month, a top company official told FE.
“We unveiled the Ace EV in May and took orders of 39,000 units from aggregators, including Amazon, BigBasket, City Link, DOT, Flipkart, LetsTransport, MoEVing and Yelo EV.
The Ace EV has been undergoing trials at customers’ end, especially e-commerce players, and has been performing better than expected,” Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors, said. “We will start its customer deliveries in October.”
Vinay Pathak, vice-president, product line, SCV & PU, Tata Motors, added that the Ace EV will be launched in nine cities by the end of 2022.
“We have been testing it in closed loops,” Pathak said. “It’s a defined area within which Ace EVs are being run. We have set up service stations within those loops, and have ensured that the charging ecosystem is available in that area. Within those loops, we will guarantee maximum uptime to our customers.”
Tata Motors has finished trials in Pune, and started in Delhi and Gurugram. “We will start putting vehicles with customers in these cities by the end of October, and in nine cities by the end of 2022,” said Pathak.
The vehicles being tested right now don’t belong to customers. “These belong to us, but are plying with our customers,” Pathak said. “The solution we have prepared for our customers has been appreciated by all of them. Once they buy the product and start using it, they will have a clear idea on the range, what the service support will be like, how to charge it, and so on.”
Tata Motors has also developed a learning set from the 10-odd EV startups who have been running their products in the last-mile delivery space over the last couple of years. “Not only EV startups, we have also learnt from customers who have been using electric LCVs and electric three-wheelers of these EV startups,” Pathak said. “In addition, we have worked very closely with the aggregators, big and small.”
The price of the Ace EV will be announced soon, and Wagh said Tata Motors will be able to beat the total cost of ownership of an equivalent diesel vehicle with the Ace EV.
The Ace EV has a driving range of 150 km (under standard test conditions) and a battery pack of 21 kWh. Multiple studies have found that more than 90% of last-mile cargo LCVs ply for less than 100 km per day, and so this range (150 km) is theoretically more than enough for covering most cities and under most delivery conditions. “But electric cargo LCVs have to run in a closed loop, if the user wants to maximise profits,” Pathak said.
Tata Motors added that the Ace EV comes with the LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery, which is thermally very stable. It has a liquid-cooled battery pack, and safety features like battery cut-off in case of accident.
The battery is sealed and is immune from the external environment.
Going forward, while the company’s LCVs (in addition to the Ace EV) will turn electric, its medium and heavy commercial vehicles will take the hydrogen (fuel cell EV) route. Tata Motors is also experimenting with unique technologies such as hydrogen internal combustion engine.