Electric vehicle buyers of Tata Motors will be able to opt for a totally green way of charging their cars or trucks as the company looks to take a leaf out of the book of Elon Musk’s Tesla by offering rooftop solar charging solutions. Tata Motors, which is the country’s largest passenger EV maker, is talking to group company Tata Power for providing charging solutions to customers who wish to cut their dependence on grid power and instead generate solar power of their own to charge their vehicles. Depending on the space allotted, the cost of installing a solar charging solution could come to around Rs 3-4 lakh for a passenger electric car, as per estimates.
Both the vehicle businesses – passenger and commercial – of Tata Motors are engaging with customers for such vehicle charging solutions. Similarly, Swedish luxury car brand Volvo has tied up with a solar power agency tasked to undertake technical and commercial feasibility for its customers who buy its EV. Tesla, the world’s biggest electric car company, is credited for making EV solar charging mass market. The US-based company has been into the solar roofing business since the past few years and many of its customers use the power to charge their Tesla cars.
Speaking to FE, Shailesh Chandra, managing director, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility (TPEML)said, “Somebody who is thinking of multiple EVs for the long term, having a solar rooftop charging solution will make sense for him. We have been discussing this with Tata Power and we are actively looking at it.” TPEML, the newly carved out EV company of Tata Motors has a market share of more than 85% of the passenger EV category in India with three offerings. Besides the personal segment, Tata Motors also sells to the commercial fleet segment. Currently, Tata Power, which is one of the country’s biggest solar power players, has been installing different classes of EV charging stations across the country.
Rooftop charging could become more practical for the commercial vehicle segment, especially in the bus and mini truck segment, as the payback period will be much shorter compared to the personal vehicle segment.A few months ago Tata Motors showcased the electric version of the Ace mini truck targeted at the e-commerce players. The company has plans to have multiple products in the same segment powered by an electric powertrain. Since a large portion of the demand for the electric Ace is from the e-commerce players, Tata Motors is keen on pushing rooftop solar charging which can be installed at their warehouses.
Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors said, “A lot of these warehouses having huge roof space, can be converted into solar roofs to generate power. Most of the e-commerce players will move to solar charging. We will work with Tata Power who are into solar installation and chargers also to give the buyers a holistic solution.”
Although demand for electric cars is seeing a consistent rise, the main source of charging them happens through the grid. More than 60% of India’s electricity needs are met through thermal power, which is known to be the most polluting source of power generation.