It's bullish on electric vehicle segment as govt is keen to buy around 20-25k electric vehicles
Commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland Ltd (ALL) has a three-pronged approach to electric buses that includes European technology and battery swapping.
Managing director Vinod K Dasari said the company was bullish on electric vehicles, with the government keen on buying 20,000-25,000 such vehicles. Besides Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland’s competition in this segment is from Chinese players like BYD and European companies.
“We can get a good chunk of this business. We have a three-pronged approach to electric buses,” said Dasari.
He said Ashok Leyland’s UK subsidiary Optare made electric buses, so the company had access to European technology. The UK busmaker uses powerful batteries that need to be charged once or twice in a day. This will help address a big challenge for electric vehicles, which is insufficient infrastructure for charging.
Ashok Leyland has also developed a circuit-based technology in India with a different battery system, controller system and charging mechanism. In October 2016, the company named the country's first ‘Made in India’ bus, Circuit.
The firm is also working on battery-swapping technology.
Experts said the cost of operating electric vehicles had declined from $1,200 per kw/hr to $600 and was expected to fall further to $250. Acceptance of electric and hybrid buses is slow in India due to cost. The average cost of an electric bus is four times that of a diesel bus.
Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation is planning to place an order for 75 electric buses worth around Rs 150 crore after having bought 25 electric buses for ~48 crore from Chinese company BYD.
According to market sources, there were enquiries for 500 electric buses in the last eight months. Experts said if the government increased the subsidy for electric buses, it would make them viable.
Incentives on electric buses are provided on a project basis: The buyer is refunded 75 per cent of the capital cost. The industry has requested the Centre to extend the incentive to all orders.