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WANTED TODAY: Cars of the future

Greater Noida, Feb 17: Amidst the glitz and glam of the multi crore automobiles on display at the Auto Expo 2014 were the electric vehicles – two, three and four wheelers relegated to a remote corner. In reality they should have been in the limelight – a sturdy solution for India’s polluted cities.

Not only electric vehicles, companies seem to be exploring the hybrid option too – electric and petrol/diesel combined. This will effectively increase the distance that the car can travel, which is a limiting factor with electric vehicles. Hybrid vehicles are more powerful, are more efficient and carry the obvious benefit of reduced emissions.

Revolo, the KPIT’s retro-fit system with 15 patents to its name, can be fit into a four-wheeler to convert it to a hybrid vehicle. With this system, the car operates on the base fuel and the rechargeable battery. KPIT’s representative said that the system, which has been developed with Automotive Industry Standard 123, reduces fuel consumption by 35 per cent, saves 25-30 per fuel after electricity cost and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent.

The TVS King, an electric three wheeler, comes with lithium-ion batteries that can run power the autorikshaw for 60-80 km. When the charge runs out, the owner can swap these batteries at a docking station for a fresh set; the swap will consume barely 3 to 4 minutes. Without the batteries, the King will cost the same as a CNG autorikshaw. R. Varun Prabhu, the TVS representative, said, “We are planning to conduct a pilot project in Pune, Bangalore and Delhi with 100 such vehicles.” An additional feature is the solar panel that can charge the batteries on the move; however, the high cost of the panel does not make it a cost-effective option yet.

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The battery powered TVS King

Maruti Suzuki’s yet to be launched Swift Range Extender, a petrol-electric battery hybrid, can give a mileage of 80p/km as opposed to petrol cars which cover a kilometer in about Rs. 5. Pradip Kumar Rahi, the Maruti Suzuki representative, pointed out the unique feature in this car – the back-up petrol engine which kicks in when the battery charge runs out. Toyota’s Camry Hybrid works on the same principle.

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Maruti Suzuki’s The Swift Range Extender

The Toyota representative said that car generates electricity too. The Camry Hybrid costs about Rs. 5 lakh more than the regular Camry and the Swift Range Extender will cost an extra 3-4 lakh over the petrol fuelled version.

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Toyota’s Camry Hybrid

Two very interesting vehicles on display in the Auto Expo were the hydrogen powered car EM4 and the LPG powered motorcycle.

EM4, which has been developed by DYP-DC, Pune; Birmingham City University-EDMS and Spencer Ashley, is powered by hydrogen. With a carrying capacity of five, the vehicle is being pitched as an integral part of public transport, said DYP-DC representative Raymond Paul. The hydrogen cylinder and rechargeable battery on board can together power the vehicle for about 150 km. This futuristic vehicle has zero emissions, is safe and comfortable.

Hydrogen

The futuristic EM4

The motorcycle developed by the students of the Lovely Professional University, Punjab sparkled amidst the super expensive superbikes for the use of its fuel – Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). The LPG used in the bike, which looks like any other mean machine on the road, results in lower emissions than other petroleum based fuels, and is free of particulate matter.

LPU

Green, mean machine

While some of these vehicles are in the testing and experimentation stage, the prohibitive cost of the models available in the market makes them inaccessible. Despite these disadvantages, the increasing number of hybrid and electric vehicles offer tangible solutions to the problem of pollution. Both air and sound pollution will shift away from the cities with the increasing use of electric vehicles. The owner can use renewable energy to charge the battery, without having to depend on grid electricity alone. A higher number of electric vehicles will increase the demand for renewable energy solutions, effectively reducing their price. Battery operated vehicles will also reduce the dependency on transport fuel, which can then be used solely for large scale operations. Government policies for fuel subsidy can then be modified to incorporate this shift.

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