EMF Innovations (EMFi), a young technology company has established a state of the art facility in Coimbatore to design and develop motors and controllers for e-mobility applications. Their vision is to accelerate the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution in India with the next generation of electric motors and contribute to building a sustainable future.
We explore their capabilities and offerings.
India’s demand for EV powertrain components is set to surge, with rising adoption of e-mobility in two-wheelers as well as passenger and cargo three-wheelers segments. Indian OEMs sold 1,52,000 electric 2Ws in FY 19-20, up from 1,26,000 in the previous year, registering a growth of 20.6%. Indian 3W space is being increasingly dominated by passenger e-rickshaws with more than 15 lakhs of these vehicles on the roads already. A study by CRISIL indicates that nearly half of all three-wheelers (excluding e-rickshaws) and 12-17% of new 2Ws sold in India by 2024 will be electric.
Building upon a strong power electronics research base in Singapore and experience of manually manufacturing EV motors for the last 4 years, EMFi has set up one of country’s first indigenous, semi-automated BLDC hub motor production plants in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu.
EMFi’s manufacturing plant has been operational since January this year and has an annual capacity of producing 1,44,000 hub motors. Key offerings are dominant BLDC (Brushless Direct Current) motors, PMSMs (Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors), Switched Reluctance Motors (SRM), and Motor Controllers, catering to electric 2W and 3W segments. The company custom designs and develops hub-mounted and mid-way motors for EVs applications ranging from low-end personal mobility vehicles like cycles, scooters, motorcycles, e-rickshaws and all the way up to light commercial vehicles.
Localization challenges for OEMs – Pricing and Production Capacity
Indian Government has been trying to make the local procurement of powertrain components more attractive for OEMs by linking FAME 2 incentives with localisation.
1. According to revised PMP (phased manufacturing program) notification released on 13 May 2020, below are the deadlines for localization of traction motors and controllers for different categories of vehicles for eligibility under FAME 2:
2. The Government has also proposed a 15% BCD (Basic Customs Duty) on import of Motors and motor controllers (among other EV components) from April 2021, through a Phased Manufacturing Program.
However, Indian OEMs and industry bodies have been vocal against the rapid localisation norms for this budding industry owing to challenges in procuring locally manufactured components at competitive prices vis-a-vis imports and mass production capability (volume) of domestic suppliers.
EMFi seeks to address some of these concerns. At present, their plant has a monthly production capacity of 12,000 hub motors. The company is working with an export outlook with a target to expand its annual production capacity to 4,20,000 hub motors.
Talking about the price barrier of locally-produced components, an EMFi representative told EVreporter – “The company was founded by engineering entrepreneurs. Our products, based on frugal engineering principles, will be cheaper than imports and continue to be more attractive with an increase in volume.”
Out of more than 1.5 lakh electric 2Ws sold in India last year, 90% were low-speed scooters. This category (top speed < 25 km/h) is the low hanging fruit for EV adoption in the personal mobility segment. EMFi’s focus on hub motor manufacturing is motivated by the fact that currently, no other players are doing end to end manufacturing of hub motors (wheel mounted motors generally used in the low-speed segment) in India. And bringing down the cost of these motors will accelerate the growth of this market.
Indigenisation Factor – Material Procurement
EMFi has managed to localise the procurement of the majority of the materials required to manufacture the motors. Sintered neodymium rare earth magnets are imported and magnetised locally. They have also built the competency to produce 100% localised SRMs that have an alternate motor configuration and contain no permanent magnets.
EMFi has localized the components by investing heavily in making all the moulds, fixtures, jigs and other necessary equipment for their motor manufacturing setup, thus commanding control of motor production process from start to end.
Locally procured components benefit the OEMs and strengthen the overall EV ecosystem in the country.
Typically, components imported from China do not come with a warranty. Availability of reasonably priced and reliable components is a big win for OEMs as they also get local warranties and support from the suppliers, which can be an important factor in cost reduction. Also, localisation offers better collaboration opportunities during the product design phase. OEMs benefit from supplier’s inherent understanding of the local market and driving conditions. Local supply chain helps reduce the turnaround time as well as the inventory cost at OEM’s end, freeing up working capital.
Reliability and After-sale Support
EMF Innovations’ motors will be certified by ARAI and come with an IP 67 rating. IP ratings are a measure of protection against intrusion by foreign bodies and moisture. IP 67 indicates the enclosure is dust-tight and protected against immersion for 30 minutes at depths 150mm – 1000mm, which imported motors do not provide. The start-up also offers after-sales support including warranty and quick response repair services by leveraging on local manufacturing ecosystem.
Way Forward for EMFi
EMFi is making R&D investments to develop new technology motors such as SRMs, Synchronous Reluctance Motors, and PMSMs catering to the needs of EVs as well as other electrification applications such as agricultural EV machinery and solar irrigation pumps. The company currently employs more than 30 people and plans to hire another 70 as they start operations in full capacity, with a focus to develop high power, high torque-density power trains.
EV Powertrain component manufacturing in India looks poised to grow with governments’ push towards electrification of transport and new-found business motivation to localise supply chains against the backdrop of COVID impact on foreign, specifically China dependent value chains.
We look forward to following EMF Innovations’ exciting journey.