Application engineering

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Q & A

Dr. Venkat Srinivas,

Vice President & Head, Engineering & Product Development, Mahindra Trucks and Buses Ltd.

Interview by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Q. What challenges are you looking at with BSVI round the corner?

A. There will be huge challenges, and huge opportunities too. It was the same in the instance of BSIV. We got an opportunity to differentiate ourselves. For instance, we have been offering common-rail technology on our products as a Group for over 10 years. The experience and synergies we have had as a Group have helped us. The synergies in the area of powertrain have helped us to get a good start. We have been offering BSIII LCVs with common-rail engine technology. We have a lot of application knowledge, not just at Mahindra Research Valley (MRV) but also at Pune. It was developed at a BSIII emission norms came into force. We had some pre-Blazo vehicles – HGVs, in the market. These were 40-tonne tractors. When we launched the BSIII Blazo a year and a half back, we built upon that experience. We added fuel-smart technology to turn the whole equation into a highly successful experience. It gave us the confidence to offer the mileage guarantee. No truck has come back in that regards. The move to BSIV made common-rail technology a necessity. A debate on EGR and SCR played out at the earlier stages. It was important to finalise the architecture. EGR is a good option for smaller vehicles because of the power to weight ratio. A five-tonne LCV typically operates with 70 hp engine in the Indian context. It signals a power to weight ratio of 14 hp per tonne. While the loading in smaller vehicles is often partial, it is exactly the opposite in bigger and heavier vehicles. The power to weight ratio of a 49-tonne truck in an Indian context is between 4 and 4.5 hp per tonne. The engine is operating at full load most of the time. If EGR technology is applied, it brings compromises. A 100 per cent fuel air mixture is not provided to the engine. Exhaust gas recirculation is 15 to 18 per cent. The engine is not burning as much fuel in a duty cycle. The result is less output. Thermal efficiency goes down. Carbon deposits rise. Engine life also goes down. We chose the newer generation airless SCR. This technology will help us to migrate to BSVI.

Q. What advantages does airless SCR offer?

A. Airless SCR uses less power over an air-assisted system. Performance of airless SCR is better. There are fewer parts and less complexity therefore. Reliability is high, and the cost of service is low. We dealt with our supplier base to ensure that the airless SCR system is price competitive. We had to make the business case work internally for us. The choice of airless SCR makes sense for as far as our customers are concerned. Airless SCR is easier and less costlier to service. Our move to BSVI will not entail an engine change. Many engines between five- and six-litre capacity will be extremely underpowered as BSVI units.

Q. What about the costs incurred to graduate to BSVI technology?

A. The costs will go up, and the reason why we are carrying out technology assessment. From that point of view, we are carrying forward our engines except for one engine in our LCV range. We will carry forward our choice of technology. Our BSVI compliant HCV range will be supported by our 7.2-litre engine. We will go with SCR, and with different calibrations. There will be the addition of DPF. There will be cost addition. The cost delta for different manufacturers will be different. We would be leveraging the investments we have made.

Q. Does it hint at an opportunity to develop more powerful engines to tap new, heavier CV segments?

A. Depending upon the growth of such segments we could definitely look at that. We have to also consider that we are not that large an organisation at the back end either. We have ambitious plans. We do have some platforms to consider. We have to pick our battles in the context of priority. There are gaps in our portfolio that we need to fill up. ICVs and some more play in buses.

Q. What new technology would you offer in buses?

A. Our bus play has been quite successful in the school segment. We have had a limited success in the staff bus segment. We are working towards improving the product portfolio in the staff bus segment. In the current portfolio of up to 40 seats, we have developed a wider body bus. It measures 2.5 m in width over 2.2 m of a conventional bus body. The wider body bus will help us in staff transportation. It will also enable us to offer other bus body, chassis and powertrain level changes. To suit the requirements better, there will be wider seats, and better elbow room on offer. There will be chassis level improvements to achieve superior NVH and comfort. Air suspension is on offer as an option too. Migration to a new platform is part of the strategy. There will be a migration to ICV type of buses. We will also offer new powertrain for ICVs – for trucks and buses. In the case of alternate fuel technology, we are already offering CNG. LNG has been in the news. Distribution is still a challenge. LNG storage and delivery in vehicle is expensive. We are working to crack that problem. LNG services are being piloted at Kochi, and availability to LNG is likely to get better along the west coast. LNG engine technology is not a challenge. Challenge concerns its distribution. As far as the engine is concerned, there’s not much change between a CNG and LNG calibration. LNG calls for the packaging of one large tank. Since it is in a compressed form, it should give a good range. Some weight reduction is possible on an LNG vehicle when compared to a CNG vehicle. LNG tanks are expensive. We will therefore continue to watch this space closely. If we feel that the adoption point is close, to will serve the market.

Q. What about electric CVs?

A. An electric bus has already been announced as part of the electric vehicle portfolio. We are working on that project. It is the T32, T40 and T42 range. From a technology stand point we are well prepared. We have the group company, Mahindra Electric, which has done such projects. We are working with them on the bus project as well. While the project proceeds there are some enablers, which need to happen. One is the cost of the electric power pack. There is interest for local manufacture, which should reduce the costs. The other is the range. A conventional, or even a battery powered bus would call for a range of 200 to 250 kms. An electric bus should also need range like that for a city operation. The range for electric vehicles is still talked to be between 100 and 120 km. Challenges in the area of battery cost and time to fully charge remain. An interesting development in this area is that ministries have come together, and under the purview of union minister Piyush Goyal, are looking at battery swapping for buses. The bus has to travel 50 km before the battery is swapped. The battery thus has to be brand agnostic. The batteries could be charged offline, and away from the bus. The time required is assured. The float can be decided on the number of batteries, and depending on the number of buses as well as the kind of routes to be run on. If the 150 km requirement comes down to 50 km with battery swapping, the cost of batteries will come down to one-third of what it is today. Some level of incentive will be needed, but viability will go up many folds.

Q. Are you looking at something that will be path breaking?

A. Every aspect of the power pack has been scrutinized. If anything new that can be offered, which others have not yet offered. It is subject to a study of what can be done differently. Despite the group experience in electric passenger vehicles, we are approaching electric (commercial) vehicle architecture ground up. We are looking at what the market requirements are for a bus. What learnings of Mahindra Electric can we take so that our learning curve is faster. We are looking at better energy management, better drives, and better storage. We are keen to look at these and the other aspects for an electric bus rather than take a system and upscale it.

Q. The kind of intelligence you would want to build into?

A. We have learnt what we need for the market. Consider the IPR bit, and it is quite complex. Mahindra Electric brings in a good deal of it. The ‘fuelsmart’ technology on trucks helped us to understand how customers use their CVs – HGVs in particular, in various road loads and applications. We have acquired a large database regarding that. This helped us to extend ‘fuelsmart’ technology on the diesel load LCVs that we introduced on the Jayo and Optimo platform. A lot of usage assessment and profiling that we did has given us a detailed understanding of how our products are used. Combine that with Mahindra Electric’s ability to optimise energy management for electric vehicles, and we are looking at a big advantage. The resulting vehicle is certain to be state of the art in terms of energy consumption. There are many out there who can integrate an electric power pack. To arrive at an optimal combination is a different ball-game altogether. The control systems and the development of IPR for efficient management of energy are of prime importance. Mahindra Electric has done a lot of work in this area, and is bringing to the table a lot of learnings. We are bringing a market perspective to the project. It could translate into engineering duty cycle.

Q. How close or how far are we in terms of connected CVs, or autonomous CVs?

A. We have come to look at autonomous vehicles in the form of classical western definitions. It leads to how we are going to look at technologies like adaptive cruise control. This technology is already found on some cars in India. So, it can happen. Technologies like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and AEBS need to be looked at. For example, how will blind spot monitoring work in Pune’s traffic? There will always be someone in the blind spot. Rather than take a literal translation of western definitions and the feature content that is being defined in this domain, the need is to upscale our understanding, which is small when compared to the western markets. Our curiosity in this area is very high. We are very keen to understand what and how technologies can be relevant. We can build intelligence on the top of the ‘fuelsmart’ technology that we have developed. There is no need to look at driverless vehicle as the holy grail. They may happen 10 or 20 years down the line. There is a need to pick up relevant technology and add intelligence to it. For example, drowsiness alert systems. These, I feel, will be quite relevant in the Indian market. Drunk driving enforcement is not high, and makes a technology like drowsiness alert extremely relevant. There is also a need to find out what is relevant for what application. Off-road segments are perhaps a bit more conducive to automation. On-road there is still an amount of heterogeneity in terms of traffic. In a controlled environment like a mine, an autonomous vehicle can do more. We at Mahindra Trucks and Buses will continue to make our CVs smarter. We will not wait for the regulations to call for it. We will look at other triggers to find out what we can add. A lot of electronics in the form of an ABS system, the engine ECU, the digital instrument cluster, etc., are already there. The need is to leverage them, and to create something better. Every year we will make our trucks and buses smarter. It will take us towards autonomous CVs.

Q. What will the future CVs look like?

A. The driver will become an important part of the ecosystem. We are putting a lot of thought into how we can make the ecosystem better for the driver. It is the driver who spends the most of his time with the CV. We are paying attention to how we can get more productivity from the driver by making it more comfortable for him. The instrument cluster has become a lot more versatile in BSIV guise, and would provide a lot of information. It is about using connected technologies like Wi Fi, Bluetooth and our DigiSense platform. DigiSense is a standard fitment in the Blazo BSIV. We will continue to offer it in our other platforms as well. A lot of information obtained as data is made available to the driver. It is also made available to the fleet owner. This ensures better transparency and management of the data. It could be used for service indicators, diagnostics, and for trouble shooting. This, as connected vehicle technology, will empower the driver and the fleet owner in ways that we have not seen or imagined. We are trying to unlock the potential, a result of which productivity will improve. We want our customers to make more money. There are companies like Tesla that are approaching a problem from a very different angle. We need to learn about them. Some of them are sitting with hordes of cash that they can spend on various experimental ventures. The industry as a whole, I think, is learning from it. The speed of innovation of such companies is something that we can adopt. We may not spend a trillion Dollars or experiment as much, we will however experiment in smaller ways and learn from the experiments of others. We have to be a fast mover and identify the application specific requirements. For example, to experiment with Lidar technology to deliver a certain application. It will have to be done quickly. The basic technology and resolution can be developed by someone else. We will have to move fast in deploying it.

Q. What synergies could we look at as you strive to make smarter trucks and buses?

A. We have a lot of synergies playing out in the Group. The challenge is how do we leverage these synergies. As a Group we are getting better. We are looking at synergies that are beneficial to both. We are working with many Group companies. Our powertrain development comes from MRV. They have engineers at Pune too. A lot of work thus goes on in the area of engine, clutch, transmission, aftertreatment, etc. A lot of work is going on in the area of CNG and other alternate fuel modes. We carry out application at Pune. MRV for example developed DigiSense in association with Bosch and TechMahindra. We have discussed with TechMahindra. They are going to do technology days for us. Their speed of development is such that we have to understand it to leverage it. We are going to have technology days on our premises where they will tell us about relevant technology. This will help us to quickly identify the levels at which we can associate. Synergies are on going, and we could do with more of them.

“We dealt with our supplier base to ensure that the airless SCR system is price competitive.”

Trendline

The ‘fuelsmart’ technology on trucks helped us to understand how customers use their CVs – HGVs in particular, in various road loads and applications.

Trendline

We are very keen to understand what and how technologies can be relevant.

SmartShift expands operations

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SmartShift, a Mahindra Group venture, has expanded its operation to Chennai.

Team CV

A digital start-up from the Mahindra Group, SmartShift has launched its operations in Chennai. It is the fifth city that marks the entry of the company. Signalling an expansion of operations, the start up company operates in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Working towards elevating the efficiency in the last mile transport space, SmartShift is acting as a platform for cargo owners and transporters to work with each other, smoothly and flawlessly.

Ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship for both, the cargo owners and transporters, SmartShift is an intra-city digital load exchange platform. Enabling efficient transportation from one point to the other, SmartShift was developed to empower consignees (both businesses and individual users) to avail of an efficient service. They can access SmartShift service through an Android-based mobile app. They can also access SmartShift through a website, or the dedicated call centre. The key differentiator that SmartShift brings to the last mile transport logistics space is the ‘reverse bidding’ feature. The app. successfully emulates the bargaining process between consignees and transporters. It allows them to close the deal at a mutually acceptable price.

In 21 months since launch, SmartShift has emerged as the leading industry player in Mumbai and Hyderabad. It is gaining unprecedented traction in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, claim industry sources. Said to have become a preferred choice for over 16,000 stakeholders, clocking over 1500 transactions per day approximately, SmartShift is looking at the next phase. It is looking to achieve an ambitious milestone of creating a community of one-million stakeholders over the next three years. Kausalya Nandakumar, CEO, SmartShift, at the launch of SmartShift in Chennai, said, “We are delighted to enter the state of Tamil Nadu by launching our operations in one of its largest cities, Chennai. The city is in many ways a gateway to a state that has the largest SCV penetration. Tamil Nadu is a mature market with a strong industrial base. We believe this market has both the need and digital presence to adopt a transport aggregator model like ours. We are confident of driving exponential value in this market.”

With the logistics industry in India pegged at USD 130 billion according to a report, 35 per cent to 40 per cent of it is said to be in the intra-city space. It is expected that 18 lakh small commercial vehicles will carry out millions of transactions everyday, and across the country. “Going ahead we will not only focus on enabling improved business productivity for our customers but also nurture customer relationships, moving beyond mere transactional business,” mentioned Nandakumar.

Offering transparent pricing, and an efficient simple one-click booking process with the ability to track cargo after dispatch, SmartShift, claim industry sources, is already turning out to be a significant player. Citing the knowledge advantage SmartShift could profit from as part of the Mahindra Group, which has a stake in the Indian CV space, and an understanding of the ecosystem, sources opine that an amount of dynamic agility is expected of the company. As the first intrapreneurial start-up incubated within the Mahindra Group, SmartShift combines the process, governance and discipline of a large mature business with the tenacity, nimbleness and fierce competitiveness of a start-up. As a young company SmartShift is said to be strongly leveraging the multi-disciplinary mentorship of the Mahindra Group. It is also said to be leveraging the access to 150 Mahindra Group companies, working as a seamless logistics solution partner.

The unique SmartShift service allows consignees to book a vehicle in less than three minutes; negotiate the best price through a unique first of its kind ‘bidding’ feature. The service also enables the consignees to choose from a range of certified and trained SmartShifters. It enables the consignees to track the selected SmartShifter and ensure that the consignment is delivered safely and securely. Allowing cargo transporters to enjoy more business through faster and easier order receiving technology, SmartShift is making life easier for transporters and fleets. To avail of more business, it is also providing the option to accept or decline a delivery request based on pricing, or the availability of vehicles. Transporters also get an opportunity to explore and expand to other markets; to look forward to a higher earning potential.

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Aiming to expand to 29 cities with 70 per cent of the SCV base in the country, the near-term plan of SmartShift is to cover metro cities. The company is currently following a well charted road map, which includes an expansion to Pune, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Delhi NCR. Looking at turning the daily logistics requirements of SMEs at least 30 per cent more efficient, SmartShift, for transporters, is providing a first in the industry feature of phone integration and efficient pricing through return trips. With focus on community building, SmartShift is said to look at disrupting the present inefficient ecosystem. Driven by an ambitious goal of owning cargo transportation in the country, SmartShift currently services more than 1000 pin codes in four cities.

SIAM elects Rajan Wadhera as Vice President

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The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has elected Rajan Wadhera as Vice President with effect from June 27, 2017. Rajan Wadhera, President – Automotive Sector and member of Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited will take over as the Vice-President of SIAM from Ravi Pisharody who recently announced his resignation from Tata Motors Limited. Speaking on the occasion, Rajan Wadhera, Vice-President, SIAM said, “At SIAM, we are confident that the Indian Auto Industry will continue to be a strong pillar of the Indian economy and will partner the society at large, for delivery of sustainable mobility solutions.” “Personally, I am honoured to be given this opportunity, and look forward to working with the industry, Government and all other stakeholders for the growth of the industry,” he averred.

Mahindra MPower for cutting edge transport management

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The third edition of Mahindra MPower summit stressed on cutting edge transport management.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Demonetisation affected the transport industry. It brought about a disruptive change, and led the transport industry to embark on a challenging ride that would last for a few months. The third edition of Mahindra MPower Summit held at IIM Ahmedbad recently reflected on this and many other developments in an effort to attain cutting edge transport management techniques that would help to tackle challenges, either disruptive or constructive in nature. Organised by the Mahindra Truck and Bus Division, the summit focused upon developing a docket for industry veterans and further professionalise their businesses. The summit included a course that would facilitate faster decision making.

Following in the footsteps of the earlier MPower editions, starting 2014, the summit provided transporters an insight into various aspects of the ecosystem that they may have overlooked. With many transport enterprises being family owned business, the broad agenda of the summit turned out a course that will facilitate faster decision making and tackling of challenges in areas like succession planning, family business managemnent, and attracting investments in challenging times.

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With GST scheduled for July 2017, the summit sought to highlight the challenges the transport industry will face. Nalin Mehta, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra Trucks & Buses Limited, drew attention to the digitisation the industry is witnessing. “This is accompanied by disruptive practices, and will make for an interesting time to do business. A big implication of GST will be on the logistics industry, and how it operates. There is a need to stay alert and gear-up for any challenges that may arise,” he mentioned. Pointing at the CV industry’s progress in migrating to BSVI emission norms by 2020, Mehta averred that there is a need to address the legal aspects as well. “Apart from load aggregation and the mushrooming of internet-based models, the way the industry used to work until now, and will need to work henceforth will be different,” he said.

New ways of working

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Delving upon the various industry trends that are prevalent. Members of Mahindra Trucks & Buses Limited, and IIM-A faculties aired their views in front of the 22 participants – veteran transporters and their prodigies, from 11 cities. A healthy exchange of ideas and practices ensued as the summit got underway. If the 22 participants represented logistics companies that have a collective turnover of Rs.1100 crore, the brain storming session as part of the summit saw the presence of five transport excellence award winners. The faculties provided valuable inputs and insights into the way the transport industry operates, and should operate to ensure agility and efficiency. The faculties highlighted a need for better synergies even as they touched upon various topics connected with the way the transport industry conducts business. The two-day summit delved upon topics like current macro economic scenario, the effect of GST, value creation in trucking industry, re-inventing family owned business, inventing new business models, and more.

Emphasising on upgrading transporter skills, V. G. Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Avanteum Advisors, drew attention to the shrinking manufacturing base in India. Despite this, the freight movement increased by 4.5 per cent in last three years, he stated. Stressing upon transport by road continuing to dominate with over 60 per cent share of the overall transportation in the country, Ramakrishnan averred, “Freight movement through road will be complemented with the implementation of GST. It will lead to the removal of check points, better road infrastructure and faster turn around times.” He cautioned that there was a need to work on other areas like fleet upgradation to reap the most benefit. Stating that CVs have become costlier because of the implementation of the BSIV emission norms, Ramakrishnan opined, “Freight rates have not kept pace with diesel rates due to which profitability continues to be under pressure. With GST coming in, there will be a rapid shift towards higher tonnage vehicles. The scarcity of skilled drivers could be compensated for to an extent by the deployment of new technologies in CVs.”

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Academic outlook

Former Dean of IIM-A, and now the director of IIM-Bangalore, Professor G. Raghuram, through video conferencing, highlighted the significance of road transport sector in India. He drew attention to a report by National Transport Development Policy Committee, which expects freight traffic to reach 13118 billion tonnes per km (BTKM) by year FY2032. The report expects rail and road transport to enjoy an equal share of traffic by FY2032. This, said Raghuram, is significant when one considers the current situation where road share is almost 65 per cent at 1986 billion net tonne kilometer (btkm) out of the total 3056 bktm of roads India has. Stating that India has already crossed 100 thousand kilometers in national highways, which is just two per cent of total road network in India, carrying 40 per cent of the traffic, Raghuram averred, “This will get more boost with all weather roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.” Road network is still dominated by rural roads by over 60 per cent, he added.

Terming practices like overloading as induced, and representative of front-line immaturity, Raghuram described that only 10 per cent of the truck owners in India have more than 20 trucks. “Professionalisation of the transport sector is very important. The more organised the road transport is, the better it be will be for logistics framework to improve. This will in-turn improve the transport industry,” he explained. Conducting a discussion on challenges faced by the transporters, Prof. Debjit Roy encouraged the participants to think of amicable solutions that could help resolve the various problems they face.

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Deploying technology

Touching upon the technical aspects of trucking, Dr. Venkat Srinivas, Principal Chief Engineer and Head – Product Development, Mahindra Trucks & Buses Limited, through video conferencing, delved upon the technological trends in CVs in India. Growing urbanisation, he said, will induce the much needed momentum in the refinement of the hub and spoke transportation model in India. This will in-turn, lead to a move to higher tonnage vehicles that will call for the employment of sophisticated technologies,” averred Dr. Srinivas. Highlighting emerging CV trends in India, including the rising awareness for safety and connectivity, prognostics, and policy regulations, Dr. Srinivas called upon the participants to think what it could mean to each and every industry segment. Also, what it could mean to move from BS IV to BS VI emission norms.

India’s first e-taxi rolls out

The first Indian e-taxi has rolled out at Nagpur.

Story by:

Ashish Bhatia

As part of the Phase I of multi-modal electric vehicle pilot project, 100 e-taxis have hit the road at Nagpur. Operated by Ola Cabs, the e-taxis are four door Mahindra e2o Plus electric cars, painted in a shade of green and white. A reflection of Central Goverment’s aspiration to build electric mass mobility, the 100 e2o Plus e-taxis will add a unique blend to the city’s public transport structure. The home constituency of minister for road transport, Nitin Gadkari, Nagpur set the stage for ‘green’ public transport roughly three years ago when the first ethanol-powered Scania 12 m low-floor city-bus found its way to the city. More bio-fuel Scania city-buses are said to have been supplied to the city of Nagpur against an order for 55 such buses. The arrival of 100 e-taxis follows the announcement by NITI Aayog for a mass shift to electric vehicles by 2030. Expressed Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, at the e-taxi launch, “This pilot project will have a positive influence on the society.” To support the project, the state government is claimed to have waived off VAT, road tax, and registration charges. To help Maharashtra to be looked upon as a model state for others to emulate, the e-taxi pilot project is claimed to have lead the State to set aside an archiac rule that cars with engines below 900 cc cannot be registered as taxis.

Dr. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, M&M Ltd. with the electric car e2O Plus, at the launch of India's first Multi-Modal Electric Vehicle Project in Nagpur copy

Crucial to the proliferation of e-taxis will be the supporting infrastructure. Ola is claimed to have invested over Rs.50 crore towards the purchase of 100 e20 Plus, and to set up the charging infrastructure. If sources are to be believed, over 50 charging points have been installed across four strategic locations in the city. Highlighting its commitment to train and educate the driver partners on maintenance and use of electric-vehicle in association with its OEM partner, Ola Cabs has fixed a base fare of Rs.40, and a charge of Rs.8 for the first twelve kms. Beyond that the structure changes to Rs.12 per km. A ride time fare of one-rupee per minute will be charged as well. If the fare structure looks similar to that of an Ola prime sedan, and an Ola mini, it also highlights the fact that alternate fuel vehicles as a mass transport medium are yet to be ‘truly’ viable. If the absence of a cancellation charge, which is applicable for an Ola mini, at Rs.50, is a positive, the size of the e2o Plus means that three commuters can travel in good comfort, not including the driver. Four adult commuters is going to be a squeeze.

Measuring 3590 mm in length, 1575 mm in width, and 1585 mm in height, the e20 Plus compares well with an Ola mini, which is typically a compact sedan like the Hyundai Xcent and Ford Aspire. The Xcent measures 3995mm in length, 1660 mm in width and 1520 mm in height.

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Powered by a 48 cell configuration, Lithium Ion battery of 210 Ah, the e20 Plus has an on-board power of 11 kWh. Using a three-phase AC induction motor, the e-taxi develops a peak power of 19 kW (25 hp) at 3500 rpm. It generates a torque of 70 Nm at 1000 rpm. Transmission is a two-speed direct-drive unit. Front suspension is made up of Mac Pherson struts, and coaxial springs. Rear has a twin pivot trailing arm with a coaxial spring and damper. On a full charge of 88 Wh, the e20 Plus covers 110 kilometres. Top-speed is 80 kmph. Acceleration from zero to 40 kmph is claimed to be 6.3 seconds. To charge the e20 Plus (up to 80 per cent), a 3 kW, single-phase, 16 Ampere charger is supplied. It takes approximately seven hours and twenty minutes. On a 10 kW, three-phase, 32 Ampere charger, the charging time reduces drastically. Ex-showroom price of the e20 Plus e-taxi at Nagpur is Rs.7,73,380 (inclusive of the FAME incentive), claim industry sources. A three year or 60,000 km warranty is offered.

Charging infrastructure

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Solar power developer ACME Group has provided battery swapping and charging station ‘EcoCharge’ to taxi aggregator Ola for their pilot project at Nagpur. The new charging station is India’s first battery swapping and charging station for electric vehicles. It brings with it, advantages like lowest operating cost and fast charging. The time it takes to swap is less than it takes to fill fuel. The project, inaugurated by minister for road transport, Nitin Gadkari, is said to have commenced operations with over 50 charging points across four strategic locations at Nagpur. Sources at ACME indicate, that the company, with the new project, plans to replicate similar swapping and charging infrastructure in other cities of India in a bid to facilitate faster adoption of electric mobility. Expressed Manoj Kumar Upadhyay, Founder and Chairman, ACME Group, “I see a future of energy storage along with solar to provide 24×7 power and oil free transportation. This should help India solve problems like pollution, heavy dependency on oil import, and enable many industries to pro-actively generate employment opportunities.” ACME offers lithium batteries that have been developed in-house, and boast of intelligent BMS technology for electric mobility and stationary applications. With capacities ranging from kilo watt per hour to mega watt per hour, ACME has a lithium battery manufacturing facility at Rudrapur, in Uttarakhand.

Vinod Sahay to lead MTBL as the new CEO

Vinod Sahay to lead MTBL

Vinod Sahay, Chief Executive Officer – Two Wheeler Business, Mahindra and Mahindra and Director Peugeot Scooters will now lead Mahindra Trucks and Buses Ltd. (MTBL) as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He takes over from the current CEO – Nalin Mehta. The shuffle is said to be part of the ‘normal talent rotation’ process according to sources at the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), with more changes expected to be announced soon. Vinod Sahay joined Mahindra in June 2015, and is claimed to have played a key role in MTBL holding onto the market share in Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs).Sahay’s position at Mahindra Two Wheelers will be filled by Prakash Wakankar, CEO, Mahindra Retail. Additionally, Harish Chavan, who led the farm business division at Mahindra’s Farm Equipment Sector, has been made Chief Operating Officer (COO) – International Operations. Chavan’s position will be taken by Pankaj Sonalkar, Head – Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers. As part of the new structure, Vinod Sahay will report to Rajan Wadhera, President – Automotive Sector & Member of the Group Executive Board ,Mahindra & Mahindra Limited. Both Chavan and Sonalkar will report to Rajesh Jejurikar, President, Farm Equipment Sector. While the changes come into force with immediate effect, Vinod Sahay is expected to work in tandem with Nalin Mehta for a few months before he takes complete charge under his new role as the CEO.

 

Jivo from Mahindra

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Mahindra has launched a new, small 25 hp tractor for affluent farmers with 4WD capability.

Story and Photos by:

Ashish Bhatia

Tractors are changing. Much like trucks and buses, they are modernising. The recent tractor launch by Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is a case in point. Called the Jivo, the tractor, producing 24 hp out of a direct-injection diesel engine, is equipped with 4WD mechanism. Looking to increase the manufacturer’s market reach in the 25 hp tractor segment, Jivo is made available in a two-tone paint scheme. Equipped with Mahindra’s DigiSense technology, the Jivo is priced at Rs.3.90 lakh for the 4WD version, and Rs.4.05 lakh, ex-showroom, Maharashtra, for the two-tone colour version. With sales starting April 24, 2017, the tractor is available in the state of Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh besides Maharashtra. Claimed to offer best-in-class performance, the Jivo is equipped with Automatic Depth and Draft Control (ADDC). Said to enable the farmer to experience a superior land preparation experience, the tractor is designed for multi-application, crop care, land preparation, inter culture and vineyard spraying. With an ability to work with larger implements like a 1.2 m rotavator and seven tyne cultivator, which make for greater depth of hard soil cutting, the Jivo, according to Rajesh Jejurikar, President – Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., offers highest load carrying capacity of up to three-tonnes in the segment. “Helping in small farm mechanisation with its multi-application suitability, the Jivo has best-in-class PTO horsepower and fuel efficiency apart from comfort and value,” stated Rajesh.

Style and Comfort

The dual-tone version of Jivo (with DigiSense) offers 24×7 connectivity to farmers. Based on telematics, DigiSense offers the Jivo owner updates on performance. DigiSense also provides crucial alerts like high engine rpm and battery charge indication among others. And this, it does on a real-time basis. In both the Jivo versions, the direct-injection diesel engine is mated to an eight-speed transmission. There are four reverse gears. The gear shift lever is located on the side, and on the fender. The placement of the gear shift lever hints at much thought being given to driver comfort and ergonomics. Especially the long work hours that may entail. The 4WD version of the Jivo offers superior traction under wet and slippery operating conditions. The two-speed PTO is claimed to improve rotavator application, and help in vineyard applications where the need is to continuously spray pesticides and other such liquids. Boasting of a top speed of 25 kmph, the tractor, said Dr. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., “we have embarked on various initiatives with innovation and technology as the bedrock. We are working towards redefining the face of farming with the launch of Farming 3.0 platform that would help to elevate farm mechanisation to a new level. The launch of Jivo marks a significant step in that directiion.”

The Jivo, claim sources close to the company, has been benchmarked against the Kubota 2420. One can’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance. Jivo, claimed sources close to the company, is superior in fuel economy and the application of implements than the Kubota. With a wide range of tractor offering, including the range of tractors offered by Group entity, Punjab Tractors, the company has come to command a 42.7 per cent market share in tractors. The Jivo will present the company an opportunity to carve out a larger pie of the tractor market. It looks like an attempt to blur boundaries and move up the value chain, the fact is, the nature of farming is changing. Mechanisation is continuing to rise, and change. With row crop farming and horticulture assuming greater importance, including orchids and vineyards, the demand for mechanisation is only expected to rise further. Horticulture production is growing at a pace faster than food grain production, at 284 million-tonnes compared to 252 million-tonnes earlier. The under 30 hp tractor segment constitutes an eight to 10 per cent volume segment of the overall segment size. Before the Jivo was launched, Mahindra had a single offering in the sub-25 hp segment. The arrival of Jivo is expected to help increase the market reach. Following the Arjun Novo and the Yuvo as the third new platform in a span of three years, the Jivo has much going for it.

Healthy growth of tractors

R - L Dr. Pawan Goenka Managing Director MM Ltd and Rajesh Jejurikar President Farm Equipment Sector MM Ltd at the launch of Mahindras new tra copy

Mahindra’s Farm Equipment Sector saw good growth in FY2016-17. It along with Escorts saw a year-on-Year (YoY) sales growth of 29 per cent and 32 per cent respectively according to a report by Emkay Research. A report by ICRA states that tractor volumes in domestic market have had a positive growth trajectory during current fiscal (growth in volumes of 18.2 per cent in 10 m, FY2017 on a YoY basis) fuelled by favourable farm sentiments as southwest monsoon performance remained healthier as compared to previous two fiscals. While the monsoon performance augured well for kharif production, it also replenished reservoir levels that supported rabi sowing despite weak winter monsoons. The growth momentum witnessed a pause in November, 2016, the report mentions, with demonetisation causing cash crunch resulting in a decline in monthly volumes by 13 per cent (YoY basis). After the minor blip, however, domestic volumes recovered, with the industry volumes growing by eight per cent and six per cent respectively in December 2016 and January 2017 on YoY basis. In February, 2017, leading tractor OEMs reported a healthy growth in domestic volumes, pointing to continuation of growth momentum for the domestic industry. Pointing at the good growth enjoyed by the farm equipment segment, sources close to Mahindra, stated that the Jivo was engineered to target affluent farmers with a land holding of five to 20 acres for a reason. Data suggests, they mentioned, that 80 per cent of the total land holding in India is estimated to be at less than five acres. The segment has witnessed a meagre two per cent tractor penetration making it a high potential area for growth. Describing the current times as an era of ‘Farming 3.0’, Dr. Goenka, averred that the space of change in India’s farming segment is slow. “Change is in store over the next five to 10 years, and we want to be a part of it”. A 20 hp, 2WD variant is also in the works claim sources. They point to a launch time of September 2017. The Jivo platform has seen Mahindra invest Rs.90 crore. Plans are being chalked to produce 50,000 units per annum initially. Having sold 17,973 tractors in March 2017, and realising a 29 per cent growth in the domestic market over the corresponding period last year, Mahindra, is bullish about healthy growth on the back of new, technologically apt and smart farm equipment. The secret of Mahindra Farm Equipment success may lie in the fact that the company recorded an exports growth of 82 per cent in March 2017 as compared to March 2016.