iCreate aims to deliver 25% increase in EV efficiency through its incubation program

According to an independent study by CEEW Centre for Energy Finance, the EV market in India will be a US$206 billion opportunity by 2030 if we continue a path towards systemic innovation and create opportunities for mass adoption. iCreate an independent incubation centre that aims to create a funnel of high calibre projects in EV domain through its initiative EVangelise.

The objective of the program is to deliver at least a 25% increase in efficiency in electric 2Ws/3Ws and create a technology package that can be used by mass manufacturers to gain a dominant market position in the global market.

iCreate CEO Anupam Jalote answers our questions about the vision and action plan for the program.

How do you see iCreate contributing to the growth of the EV segment in India?

We are one of the largest automobile markets in the world. It takes time for such a large market to change course in a fundamental manner – changing from petrol / diesel / gas to electric is a very big change. iCreate is focused on helping tech innovators create knowledge that can enable manufacturers to take a global leadership position in EV sub-components. At this point in time, the focus is on 2Ws, 3Ws and their components, specifically:

1. Battery, BMS and Hybrid Energy Storage Systems (HESS) – 

  • Active or passive cell balancing and battery safety systems
  • A combination of capacitors and batteries to give higher overall power and energy densities at a lower cost
  • Active or Passive battery cooling systems.
  • Others

2. Electric Powertrain (motor + controller) – 

  • Electric traction motors for electric 2W or 3W applications, like BLDC, SRM, ACIM, etc
  • Motor Controllers or VFDs or 3 phase inverters for electric traction motors
  • Others

3. Regenerative Braking Systems – Systems harvesting energy which is being wasted in an electric vehicle, could be through regenerative braking, waste heat harvesting battery/motor, etc.

4. Intelligent Vehicle Management Systems – 

  • Combination of sensors and algorithms to determine optimal braking and throttling for range/efficiency enhancement. 
  • Analytics on health and life of motor, battery, etc., vehicle efficiency, driver behavior, etc.

We are looking for innovators who use two separate approaches – i) the normal approach of using microprocessors and controllers, and ii) the more advanced solutions using FPGA or System In Package (SiP) based builds. Besides rigorous mentoring for a period of seven months, we will support the winning startups of the challenge with monetary and networking resources to help take their products to the market.

What are some of the challenges at sub-component level that you are trying to solve?

A complete EV is actually the assembling of several key parts onto a frame and body. India already has deep competence in frames and bodies. Apart from that, almost all the other parts like motors and their controllers, batteries and their battery management systems and overall vehicle intelligence are all imported. If India is to take a global leadership position in EVs, it must master these key sub-components. 

We need to focus on designing the complete sub component level technology in India such that it can be manufactured locally and it would attempt to reduce dependency on imports even at the raw material level. Currently EV players in India are relying on vendors in the ICE category. The vendors are unable to cater specifically to the EV segment due to less demand locally. This forces players to turn to international markets. EV players in the country should turn to local manufacturers with specific demands and also equip them to build such components with dexterity and finesse, keeping its quality at par with international players while supplying at a rapid scale. 

You also spoke about increasing efficiencies by 25% in electric 2Ws and 3Ws. What are the specific steps / implementation roadmap that you are undertaking to achieve this?

Talking specifics, a normal EV battery will only allow you to use about 80% of its capacity – the last 10% is not used to prevent damage via deep discharge and the final 10% is not charged to prevent damage via overcharging. Clever battery management systems can allow you to access an extra 5 to 7% without damaging the battery. Similarly, higher efficiency motor controllers allow the motor to consume less power. 

A multitude of energy efficiency enhancing innovations can be made in each part of the complete electric drivetrain and powertrain, including the motor, the controller, the battery management systems and the battery. Enhancement of energy efficiency can also be brought about by waste energy recovery systems like regenerative braking, waste heat recovery, etc. Overall, iCreate envisions an added range of 25% over current electric vehicle configurations. For this, each sub-component must be designed for a particular application or use case, keeping in mind the range and payload carrying capacity requirements, leading to more energy efficiency as well as cost efficiency.

If all the sub components in the complete chain were to act simultaneously according to the need of the situation (torque or power requirements) through a combination of sensors and open data communication protocols, it would lead to a higher energy efficiency. There are a multitude of things that smart sensors, processors and clever algorithms can do to increase the overall vehicle efficiency. This is the heart of the EVangelise challenge.

Which are some of the EV Start-ups supported by iCreate?

Till date, iCreate has supported start-ups working on complete vehicle development which have inherent innovations like regenerative braking and battery cooling systems which improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle. There are also a few start-ups working at the subcomponent level which are working towards enhancing the efficiency through innovations in design and cost reduction through end to end manufacturing being done in India.

Aeidth Technologies (Rajat Yadav) – Electric Vehicle Charger

• Chargezone – Electric Commercial Heavy Vehicles Charger

• Elon Motor (Chadalavada Raghuveer) – E-bike for last mile cargo transportation

• DbyT Dynamics (Dhairyasheel Deshmukh) – Two-wheel cargo electric cycle with passive cold storage chamber

• Fasmho Energy Systems (Abdul Azeez Khan) – Passive balancing BMS for Batteries

• EVer Hybrids (Dhanasekar) – Retrofit motor for EV conversion

• MCS Cargar (Raj Anupam) – Portable DC fast charger for EVs

• All Weather Multi Utility Cargo Electric Trike (Satish)- Electric Trike for Cargo utility

• Naxatra Labs – Axial Flux Motor for Electric two or three wheelers

All these projects are supported by iCreate through idea to prototype development programs where they were given grant funding, technical and business mentoring, access to lab infrastructure and co working spaces and connects to industry and VCs as they required.

How can EVs in India reduce their dependence on manufactured subcomponents from markets abroad? How will this increase the indigenous manufacturing in India?

The EVs in India need to create a complete overhaul of the subcomponent level products in the electric vehicle chain. This would mean reimagining the design and concept of the vehicle so that the complete product can be manufactured domestically. The designs should take into account the use of products which can be locally sourced or produced (not including silicon, lithium, or neodymium-based products).

For example, both lithium and cobalt are getting expensive by the day due to the increasing demand worldwide. This also creates the price disparity between ICE vehicles and EVs, another pain point for customers in the purchase of EVs. Once the demand for locally manufactured components starts coming in, manufacturers in India will be able to take orders in bulk without a cost disadvantage. In fact, in a few years, India can manufacture its locally produced EV components to the world market. Many EV players, both emerging and existing ones, are already working towards setting up these manufacturing hubs in India and tapping into local talent to ensure a working infrastructure is created and ready to function. Federal subsidies and policy are actively supporting electric two wheelers which are made in India and manufacturing of localised ACC batteries by providing great incentives. We also need to shift our efforts towards greater investment in R&D to focus on quality and durability of locally produced components.

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