Swiss Group ABB has come up with a rather grand plan to make India a completely electric vehicle nation in 12 years (2030). It has even announced its intention to supply buses that can be charged in 15 seconds.
Last year, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari stated that 1.5lakh buses operated by various state-operated transport undertakings (STUs) were to be converted to electric buses in a bid to save some money on its Rs. 8lakh crore crude imports.
The aim of this flash-charging technology is to enable buses to operate with smaller batteries. In August 2016, ABB India Managing Director Sanjiv Sharma had said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had given its green signal to operate buses with the new technology on a pilot basis. Minister Nitin Gadkari had stated that these buses could be charged at night at Rs. 3.5 per unit of electricity as compared to Rs. 50-60 for a litre of diesel.
These buses would be charged at bus stations using a mechanical arm which charges only when a bus is connected. Further, it eliminates overheard wires and charges while passengers are boarding and disembarking.
ABB is partnering with Volvo buses to operate these buses in 13 cities across the country.
ABB is also planning a launch in December in Geneva, in partnership with Public-Transport operator TGP to operate 12 such buses across a 14km long stretch.
The National Electricity Mission Plan 2020 has identified the need to replace large batteries with smaller ones and use rapid-charging technologies to make it possible. The potential demand for Electric Buses is pegged at approximately 2500 buses by 2020.
Ashok Leyland, meanwhile has unveiled what it calls the first ‘Indigenous Electric’ bus manufactured in India. The Circuit series of buses, will be offered with a subsidy under the Central Government’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme and can travel 150km on a single charge.
FAME, as part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, aims to put close to 7 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads by 2016.
As stated earlier, The Future of Urban Transport is the Bus. Buses are more effective than other mass transit projects because they are cheaper, faster to procure and do not involve dedicated large-scale construction. The only thing a bus requires is a road and a bus station, which is why it forms the basic rung of public transport.
While the new buses will certainly be a game-changer in the field of transport, they will also be a big boost for Make In India. These buses will form a totally different market and will require a separate workforce to research, design and develop them, along with the supporting infrastructure. Ultimately, it will result in a massive employment surge while also providing an export market for completed buses.
The future of buses in India is certainly a bright one, one spark can ignite a fire. One bus can change the future.
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