The third edition of ICAT convention focussed on new technologies that are changing the landscape of powertrains.

Gunjan Bidani

At the recently concluded ICAT convention on powertrain technology, the focus was on new and green technologies in the commercial vehicle sector. The convention focused on a wide range of topics through panel discussions. The expert panels touched upon alternative fuels and the readiness of the manufacturer and supplier ecosystem for the upcoming BSVI roll-out by April 2020. Participating panelists which included speakers from startup OEMs like TwentyTwo Motors to more established players such as Mahindra & Mahindra to others weighing their opportunities in India like MG Motors put their weight behind adopting more efficient powertrains.

Dinesh Tyagi, Director, ICAT opined, “electric vehicles are the way forward, alternate fuel options such as fuel cell should also be considered.” “Given the fact that the raw materials for manufacture of Lithium-Ion batteries is not available in India, Fuel-Celled Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) is a better bet,” he added. The panel was additionally of the opinion that FECVs especially make for a more viable option for a country like India given the range anxiety factor particularly for electric vehicles in the inter-state commute. It is hence that better emission norms for existing diesel vehicles and hydrogen powered vehicles would come into play, it was unanimously agreed upon. Plug-in hybrid vehicles, it was discussed, would also play a critical role in reduction of emissions according to Charles Frump, Managing Director, Volvo Auto India. The Scandinavian carmaker plans to roll out one million electric vehicles globally by 2025.

Among ancillaries at the ICAT convention were companies like Zygor Energy Systems. Inder Sharma, Founder and Director of Zygor Energy showcased a new spark plug which is claimed to have a better combustion rate compaeed to other spark plugs owing to the presence of multiple electrodes in a spiral like design. This is said to resul t in a larger ignition area which in turn results in complete combustion of the fuel-air mixture entering the cylinder. Mentioned Sharma, the thought process so far with OEMs and component manufacturers has been towards post-combustion reduction of emissions and not to tackle the root cause. The new spark plugs are already running in a pilot project in Delhi and the results so far are positive according to Sharma. For larger commercial vehicles, Zygor Energy has a new type of intake valve that it claims can fit any existing vehicle resulting in lower emissions. The company is working on technologies to make an electric vehicles more sustainable in a bid to remove the anxiety of range. From a theoretical stand-point, Sharma states that it is possible to run an electric vehicle from Delhi to Mumbai on a single charge. However, this would mean that losses need to be at a bare minimum and more focus needs to be on regeneration of electricity.

By the end of the panel discussions in the third edition of the ICAT convention, it was clear that while the move towards BS VI is imperative wherein oil companies as well as OEMs have to be ready, there is no denying the fact that electric vehicles and alternative fuel powered vehicles are expected to feature big going forward. The type of fuel to be used would be dictated on a case-to-case basis depending on how commercial vehicles are used. Within city limits or inter-state transit.

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