Leading Chinese electric bus maker, Build Your Dreams (BYD) has decided to assemble electric-buses in India. The Shenzhen-based company has inked a pact with an Indian company called Smart Dreams (led by Singapore-based entrepreneur B K Modi). Aiming at providing transportation solutions taking into account challenges like pollution, the venture will turn to assembling cars at a later stage. To concentrate on the assembly of e-buses initially, the venture is claimed to have already offered two buses to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) free of charge. The two buses are currently plying on key commercial routes in the city. Backed by investment veteran Warren Buffet, BYD also has an electric bus manufacturing facility in South California, USA. Enjoying a good presence in the electric bus space in various markets the world over, BYD, according to its managing director Liu Xue Liang, sees a huge potential for growth in India. Said Liang, “This is the right time to enter the Indian market.”
With either of the two city electric buses plying in Delhi powered by a fully recyclable Lithium ion battery pack that does 4,000 recharging cycles and can clock 250 kms when fully charged, the time taken to charge fully can be as much as five hours. Charging is done during the night, and when the buses are not operational. According to Liang, the settig up of an assembly plant in India will present an opportunity to keep costs down. A facility to assemble electric buses has already been finalised in ModiCiti near Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. Banking on a local content of up to 50 per cent to start with, over the next three to five years, BYD and Smart Dreams plan to take this to 75 per cent by indigenising the battery. Asserted Modi, “We are already talking to major STUs in the country and hope to bag good orders. To promote the use of e-vehicles in India, I feel that the industry should be converted to zero tax segment.” “We have plans to line up various electric vehicles and the project overall could invite USD 2 billion in long term investment through the expansion of production facilities across India in the future.” Ironically costs continue to be an issue for electric and hybrid buses in India, and despite an increase in the FAME outlay. The only electric bus on trial (also from BYD) at Bangalore was taken off the trial once the trial period was over. With many STUs not in the pink of their health, it will need to be seen how they are able to absorb electric buses.