7 minutes reading time
Setting standards for the future of mobility
The co-operative industrial research association, better known as ARAI, is the sole keeper of standards both by and for the automotive industry. Today, the Automotive Research Association of India is the go-to center for comprehensive testing of all means of mobility. Ashok Thakur, Chief Editor, ETN, interviewed Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director ARAI, to get an insight into the scope of ARAI activities, setting standards for EVs and future of e-mobility.
Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director, ARAI
Could you elaborate on the outlook for electric vehicle adoption in 2020 for India?
Electric vehicle penetration is predominantly observed in public transport. This is very much in line with the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME-II), where the major focus is on promoting public transportation through EV.
The Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) has already sanctioned 5,595 electric buses in 64 cities under FAME-II. This is aimed at deeper penetration in those cities which have come forward with specific intentions to increase EV usage. To support point-to-point public transportation there is also increased action in uptake of electric 3Ws or e-rickshaws. Opening up of permit restrictions for e-3Ws has resulted in a sudden demand from individual operators.
In addition, Energy Efficiency Storage Ltd (EESL) is procuring 1,000 electric cars for government officials and their departments. Vehicle manufacturers are also slowly and steadily introducing new electric models in 2W, 3W and passenger car categories.
In parallel there is increased activity in establishment of charging stations by DHI under FAME-II and by PSUs such as Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Ltd (REIL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC), EESL, etc. With all these favourable factors, electric vehicle penetration is surely expected to increase in the coming years.
Is ARAI geared to take on the additional burden of EV testing in 2020? How many additional vehicles do you envisage for this year and would it require expansion plans? Would it in any way interfere with your testing of conventional vehicles?
ARAI is geared for supporting auto industry for development, testing, validation and certification of electric vehicles and their components. Motors, batteries, controllers, chargers etc. are being developed in the country to meet the growing demand.
ARAI has recently established and setup a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Green Mobility at its Chakan campus Inaugurated by the Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Arjun Ram Meghwal. This centre houses comprehensive development, validation and testing facilities for electric vehicles and their components. ARAI has created a rich resource pool of appropriate simulation/ development tools and human resources to support industry in this segment.
Complete re-engineering of vehicle platforms for their suitability to electric powertrains is being done by many manufacturers using the ARAI capabilities here. Light-weight structures, alternate powertrain design and packaging for crash compatibility, etc. are some of the challenging projects being handled at the moment.
The centre has already certified more than 110 models for Central Motor Vehicle Rule or CMVR compliance and about 30 models for FAME II qualification.
In parallel, other labs at ARAI continue to provide services for testing and approval of all categories of vehicles as per BS VI emission norms, real driving emission measurements, crash compatibility, fuel efficiency, etc.
"ARAI has recently established and setup a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Green Mobility at its Chakan campus Inaugurated by the Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Arjun Ram Meghwal."
Industry is discussing issues with the nail penetration test for EV batteries. What are your views on it?
Lithium-ion battery cells are prone to internal short circuit due to factors such as aging, manufacturing defects and others, leading to thermal runaway and battery pack fire. Hence, evaluation of battery from fire safety point of view is quite critical.
Nail penetration is one of the methods adopted to initiate cell internal short circuit. There's ongoing research for alternate methods e.g. cell heating. At the international level, Global Technical Regulation (GTR) is already formulated and adopted by all countries for EV safety. Here, GTR covers thermal propagation requirement with initiation of cell internal short circuit using either nail penetration or heating method. With our commitment for international harmonization and vehicular safety, Indian standard AIS 038 also has been recently revised in line with global regulation.
The industry as a whole is also a part of regulation/standards development and accordingly manufacturers are taking steps to improve their battery designs to meet safety requirements.
After FAME II, do you find more components are made in India? Could you shed some light on the number of indigenous components used in Indian EVs?
Under FAME-II, the government of India has laid out clear timelines for localisation of critical EV components over a period of two years. This is specified in the scheme as Phase Manufacturing Program (PMP). Industry has started working on local development and manufacturing of these components as per PMP. This will certainly lead to indigenisation and 'Make in India'. In addition, with the increase in the sales volumes it is expected that local manufacturing will show a steep increase.
As backward integration has started from manufacturing EVs to manufacturing of components like battery packs and Brushless DC or BLDC motors, how do you assess this trend in the coming years? Is ARAI geared up with standards and components and sub-component levels?
It is expected that the entire ecosystem for manufacturing of electric vehicles locally is slowly getting established. In anticipation, standardization work is already undertaken at national committees such as American Institute of Steel Construction or AISC and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
AISC standards cover safety of critical components like batteries, motors, harnesses, chargers and other assemblies. These standards are notified under CMVR as mandatory requirements.
Individual component performance standards (such as connectors) are being taken up by BIS based on International Organization for Standardization (ISO/IEC) or the Import Export Code standards.
ARAI's CoE has established requisite facilities to support industry for component development, testing/ validation and approval as per all such standards.
ARAI is the sole authority for establishing standards, testing as well as certification. As the market matures, do you see private testing and certification arising to meet the increasing need? In such a scenario would ARAI provide support in any capacity?
ARAI already has comprehensive facilities for testing and certification of EVs and components. NATRiP (National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project) centers are also being augmented with requisite facilities.
However, to support local development at different locations, there might be a need for clustering of small facilities. Some of the State governments are therefore planning EV clusters under their State EV policies and such clusters could have basic test facilities for local testing support for prototype development. ARAI is providing technical support to State authorities in such endeavours.
Do we have the requisite skill sets to understand challenges with EVs and their components with regards to testing, certification and standardization?
Yes, at ARAI we do have requisite skills and competencies in this area, and we are continuously upgrading skillsets with the addition of resources, training,etc. Further, ARAI through its academy also provides specialized skilling programs to industry professionals as well as to engineering students. This has helped the industry immensely in acquiring newer skills.
When a vehicle like Hyundai Kona is certified at a lower mileage in Korea, why is there a difference in the certified mileage in India?
Mileage or range test of EVs is done in the laboratory under standard test conditions. Also, the test cycle which is followed in India differs from what is followed in other countries. Thus, the difference in the measured range could be attributed to test cycle and local driving and ambient conditions.
Gravity-based storage: Long duration backup for re...
Enabling energy security through innovation