Pune: Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing and technology company EKA, which on Saturday unveiled its first electric bus EKA E9, believes that India will become the largest exporter of EVs in the next few years and the Indian bus market which was around 80,000 units a year pre-COVID, will be 60%-70% (50,000 units) electric by the next 5-7 years.
EKA E9, expected to be launched by July this year, comes with a li-ion battery and is powered by an electric motor that generates maximum power of 200 KW and torque of 2500 NM. It has a lightweight stainless steel monocoque chassis. EKA claims that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the bus developed in India will be lower than the existing internal combustion engine-powered buses. The company expects to get a homologation certificate in the next 30 days.
The EV maker wants to primarily focus on e-buses, ranging from 7 metres going up to 13.6 metres, (both intercity and intracity), and small commercial vehicles. The other players in the e-bus market include Olectra Greentech, BYD, Switch Mobility, JBM, and Tata Motors.
Started in 1996 and based in Pune, EKA is a brand of Pinnacle Mobility Solutions which is a unit of Pinnacle Industries. Pinnacle Mobility Solutions is a joint venture with Europe’s largest family-owned enterprises VDL Group with a 74:26 partnership.
EKA is one of the 20 applicants which got approval to launch EV manufacturing under Government of India’s Auto Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.
The scheme, announced in September last year, is to incentivise domestic manufacturing of advanced automotive technology vehicles. It expects to attract over INR 42,500 crore incentives over the next five years. In February this year, 20 applicants were cleared out of 115 that the government had received.
According to Sudhir Mehta, Chairman, EKA and Pinnacle Industries Limited, “This is a responsibility along with an opportunity to allow us a market entry. We want to use this to penetrate into the Indian market, not just for government-run buses but also in the private sector because the latter is a larger market in the long term to build a position for India in exports.”
The company, which has invested about INR 150 crore in its EV business, wants to have many local facilities across the country and around the world “to cater to distributed markets in the areas”, instead of having a single mega plant.
“For this, we are in talks with various state governments and hope to make an announcement of the plant within the next two months. At the moment, we are considering both Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh but we are also talking to other states,” he said.
The company is also looking at having plants, each with individual capacities of 1000-2000 buses a year for low-cost manufacturing setups. Eka sees a potential to have a network of 100 such plants, to tap the global electrification megatrend.
With a 5-year pay line under the PLI scheme, it plans to establish itself in the country within the first two years and venture into the global markets in the next three years.