Government sees red as electric vehicles fails to deliver mileage promise

Updated: May 27, 2019 7:13:30 AM

Vehicles with a battery pack of around 30 kW will have a range of at least 250 km.

If the vehicles are more costly, that could dampen demand,” he said.

By Pritish Raj

Government departments using the electric vehicles (EVs) from Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra are understood to be somewhat unhappy with the mileage of the vehicles.According to an official in one of the departments, while Tata Motors and M&M had claimed these would run for 130 km when fully charged, they are able to do just about 85 km. “One is worried about running them for too long,” the official told FE.

A Tata Motors spokesperson said the Tigor EV has a certified range of 142 km as per an ARAI test report against the tender range requirement of 130 kms.
“The range of the vehicle varies from individual to individual and depends on the driving habits, road and traffic conditions,” the spokesperson added.
The two Mumbai-based automakers have so far supplied around 1,500 vehicles to Energy Efficiency Services (EESL), a public-sector unit in the power ministry. Another 1,000 units are expected to be driven in over the next few months.

Officials are understood to have asked EESL to urge Tata Motors and M&M to increase the battery strength to give the vehicles a range of least 120 km in normal road and traffic conditions. However, the EESL wants them to make do with the current lot because a bigger battery capacity would mean a higher cost.
EESL MD Saurabh Kumar said only a few officials had complained. “Obviously, the range will be better under standard test conditions than normal road conditions. This is also true for cars with internal combustion engines. Range has a lot to do with the driving behaviour and traffic conditions,” Kumar told FE.
He added that the cost of the vehicle would rise substantially if manufacturers were asked to fit them with batteries that have strengths matching global standards. “We have given the companies more time to supply the remaining units since we are waiting for the demand to pick up. If the vehicles are more costly, that could dampen demand,” he said.

According to Kumar, the focus has now shifted from procuring more EVs to making them popular by installing more charging stations. That would generate demand and mitigate problems, particularly related to range. New Delhi currently has 30 charging stations for the public and EESL aims to increase this to 200 soon. For vehicles procured for government departments, there are around 1,500 stations across states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Telangana.
While M&M has supplied its sedan e-Verito as part of the tender won by companies to supply 10,000 EVs in 2017, Tata Motors has sold the Tigor. Since the demand for EVs remains subdued possibly because of dissatisfaction over the range, EESL has given the companies an additional year till March 2020 to supply the remaining units. Earlier, the companies were to supply the entire units by March 2019. The second tender for another 10,000 vehicles has also been postponed for an indefinite period.

M&M did not respond to requests for comment till the time of going to press. According to the officials, the government’s intent to promote EVs may suffer a setback if the next lot of EVs is fitted with batteries of a similar capacity and range. “For private use too, a minimum range of 200 km is a must,” an official said.
The vehicles come with a battery pack of 18 kilowatt (kW), while the global standard is 25-35kW. Vehicles with a battery pack of around 30 kW will have a range of at least 250 km.

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