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Old 18th June 2017, 10:47   #1
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Default Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

Tata Motors has commenced trials of its electric bus in Chandigarh. The company is testing its Ultra ELECTRIC 9m bus, which has a seating capacity of 31 passengers. The said trails will run for over 15 days and will jointly be carried out by the State Transport Department and Chandigarh Transport Undertaking.

The Tata electric bus had also undergone a similar trial a few weeks ago, when it travelled from Parwanoo to Shimla. During this trial run, the 9 meter electric bus managed to cover a distance of 160 km on a single charge. In Chandigarh, the Ultra ELECTRIC is managing to extract a range of 143 km with 70% of the battery charge.

Tata Motors' increased participation in the electric commercial vehicle segment is in line with the Government of India's aim to electrify public transport in major cities. The Indian automaker has developed a range of electric vehicles in order to be ready for the upcoming demand. The range includes buses with 9 meters or 12 meters length and multiple seating configurations.

Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh-tataultraelectric9metrebus.jpg
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Last edited by dZired : 18th June 2017 at 10:49.
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Old 19th June 2017, 11:42   #2
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

That's a good move by Tata's. Hope this will find use in the mainstream soon, rather than being just a experimental vehicle.
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Old 19th June 2017, 13:11   #3
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

It is a very good sign that proper steps are being taken for the electrification of public transport. Low speeds, heavy torque requirement and fixed routes and timings make public buses the ideal candidates to go electric. More importantly, if they can do a good enough job, the sheer visibility of buses as public transport will long a long way in making people more comfortable with the idea of going electric. It can be a great platform to show the general public that electric transportation can actually work in India. It will also be a major PR coup for the bus manufacturers.

143km with 70% charge is pretty decent.

They should also consider having a small 1-1.5L engine on board to act as a generator. You can always plug-in to charge but can also switch over to conventional fuels if needed.
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Old 19th June 2017, 14:20   #4
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

Quote:
Originally Posted by vamsi.kona View Post
That's a good move by Tata's. Hope this will find use in the mainstream soon, rather than being just a experimental vehicle.
This is going to be a mainstay of the company in coming years. Himachal Pradesh govt has already ordered 25 electric buses (9m). 12m bus is also under development.
From reports, the state officials are more than happy to have range of ~180km in some of the meanest of Ghat sections.
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Old 19th June 2017, 16:42   #5
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Originally Posted by speedguy View Post
This is going to be a mainstay of the company in coming years. Himachal Pradesh govt has already ordered 25 electric buses (9m). 12m bus is also under development.
From reports, the state officials are more than happy to have range of ~180km in some of the meanest of Ghat sections.
I hope this finds more usage across the nation in major cities and even for Inter-city travels. A range of 150Kms would be more than helpful for city rides, as the vehicles can be easily charged in between. These can easily be used for inter-city travels as well provided there are charging stations mid-way. For example a service between Hyderabad-Vijayawada, a distance of 274 Kms, can easily be done with a single stop for charging midway. There would be many destinations where even that is not required, such as Bangalore-Mysore etc.

Hope this is fast tracked through government initiative.

I have a very basic question. Would the distance covered by an electric vehicle differ depending on traffic conditions or would it be the same, assuming there is a separate and dedicated source of power for AC etc.

Last edited by GTO : 20th June 2017 at 10:16. Reason: Merging back to back posts
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Old 19th June 2017, 19:04   #6
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

Quote:
Originally Posted by vamsi.kona View Post
For example a service between Hyderabad-Vijayawada, a distance of 274 Kms, can easily be done with a single stop for charging midway. There would be many destinations where even that is not required, such as Bangalore-Mysore etc.
I dont think the battery charge time is as quick as a dinner halt at way side dhaba.
How about providing interchangable sets of batteries for longer range.
If batteries can be unplugged and moved to a charging station by a forklift, and fresh charged batteries get refitted in their place a increase in range will be a reality.
A Pune Bangalore 12 to 14 Hr 840 km running bus can stop at the first dinner halt which is usually near Sankeshwar between Kolhapur and Belgaon. Here technetians can detach batteries and take them to the charging station, and load fresh charged batteries.
At the same time a pairing bus starting from Bangalore at the same time will be changing batteries at Haveri, where the Bangalore departing bus has its dinner halt. The battery picked up at Sankeshwar by the first bus will again be dropped off at Haveri while the battery picked up at Haveri dropped at Sankeshwar where the charge set of batteries which the first bus had dropped will be picked up again by the pairing bus.
Longer routes like Mumbai Bangalore 1050 km (including Mumbai pickups) will need 3 extra sets instead of 2.
Even longer routes like bangalore Ahmedabad run with 3 buses, even here at most 5 extra batteries between three buses will be needed.
Even if a set of batteries costs Rs 10 lakhs, it is negligible as compared to a bus costing Rs 1.2 Crore, which pays Rs 4 Lakhs or so per state per year as road tax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vamsi.kona View Post
I have a very basic question. Would the distance covered by an electric vehicle differ depending on traffic conditions or would it be the same, assuming there is a separate and dedicated source of power for AC etc.
Yes it will but not as much as a liquid fuel powered bus, as regenerative braking during deceleration will be saving energy usually converted into heat by braking. Motors also have no idle consumption, so dead halts will also not consume anything other than power needed by Ac compressor, lights etc.

Rahul

Last edited by Rahul Rao : 19th June 2017 at 19:06.
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Old 19th June 2017, 21:31   #7
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Rao View Post
I dont think the battery charge time is as quick as a dinner halt at way side dhaba.
You may be surprised. With a proper charging station, a vehicle running LiPoly batteries (good brands like LG, not the chinese ones used by BYD and the lot) can recharge upto 80% of its capacity in about 40 mins. The balance 20% will take hours (at this point in time), though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Rao View Post
How about providing interchangable sets of batteries for longer range.
If batteries can be unplugged and moved to a charging station by a forklift, and fresh charged batteries get refitted in their place a increase in range will be a reality.
A Pune Bangalore 12 to 14 Hr 840 km running bus can stop at the first dinner halt which is usually near Sankeshwar between Kolhapur and Belgaon. Here technetians can detach batteries and take them to the charging station, and load fresh charged batteries.
At the same time a pairing bus starting from Bangalore at the same time will be changing batteries at Haveri, where the Bangalore departing bus has its dinner halt. The battery picked up at Sankeshwar by the first bus will again be dropped off at Haveri while the battery picked up at Haveri dropped at Sankeshwar where the charge set of batteries which the first bus had dropped will be picked up again by the pairing bus.
It is an idea that has been considered and the minister concerned is a huge advocate of swappable batteries. The think tank also advocated delinking the battery cost from the vehicle cost (for reasons elaborated on the next point) and considered removing vehicle subsidies and investing in a stock of swappable batteries that can be leased to users instead.

Unfortunately, the batteries on a bus will require some serious infrastructure to move - they can weigh anywhere upto a ton and a half in total and its not like its one battery (or 2-3) to be removed like in a torch, its an array of cells that is specific to the vehicle. Its going to take much larger than a quick top-up with a charging station, anyway.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Rao View Post
Even if a set of batteries costs Rs 10 lakhs, it is negligible as compared to a bus costing Rs 1.2 Crore, which pays Rs 4 Lakhs or so per state per year as road tax.
The cost of batteries is currently about 65% of the vehicle cost, which in India STARTS @ about 1.75 Cr for a basic model (ex-factory/showroom) and goes all the way up to 3.75 Cr (or more)

This is also another reason why they considered delinking the battery cost from that of an electric vehicle.

Either way there is a huge think tank brainstorming on this issue, with direction right from the top. The intent is there, so is the direction - once technology catches up and costs come down, we will reach the tipping point - after which we can hopefully say goodbye to internal combustion.

Last edited by Steeroid : 19th June 2017 at 21:34.
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Old 20th June 2017, 15:15   #8
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
You may be surprised. With a proper charging station, a vehicle running LiPoly batteries (good brands like LG, not the chinese ones used by BYD and the lot) can recharge upto 80% of its capacity in about 40 mins. The balance 20% will take hours (at this point in time), though.
That is adequate, provided that charging points are made available, a 40 min halt after 5 Hrs near dinner time, and a few 20 min halts every 4-5 hrs is the norm. So a range of 350km is good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
.......The intent is there, so is the direction - once technology catches up and costs come down, we will reach the tipping point - after which we can hopefully say goodbye to internal combustion.
Instead of a direct shift from Diesel to Electric, a plug in hybrid can be a transistion. Batteries should two and not more placed in a way to balance weights, and be swappable but of size that a single forklift can handle.
Along with this a small 3 pot diesel of 1.5Lit or less coupled to a generator can be underslung behind the last axle, for use only when charge level drops below 20% or so. Power needed by a 16 ton bus to balance 100kph on level road is just about 80kw.

Rahul
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Old 20th June 2017, 15:29   #9
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Default Re: Tata Motors starts electric bus trials in Chandigarh

I guess electric buses for long distance is not that practical owing to the weight of the batteries and frequent charging required. That is where something like fuel cells would have been an advantage (subject to hydrogen availability and issues of producing it)
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