Ashok Leyland to have three-pronged approach for electric buses

Ashok Leyland's first zero-emission electric bus that has been entirely made in India

Ashok Leyland's first zero-emission electric bus that has been entirely made in India


  Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland (ALL) said that it has got three-pronged approach for increasing electric buses market in India, which includes European technology and battery swapping technology.

ALL's Managing Director Vinod K Dasari said the company is bullish on the electric vehicle segment. He noted that the government is keen to buy around 20,000-25,000 electric vehicles. Besides Tata Motors, competition would be from Chinese players like BYD and European companies.

"We are very bullish and can get a good chunk of this business. We have a three-pronged approach for electric buses," said Dasari. The company is making electric buses in Europe and selling chassis in the US.

Without getting into more details, Dasari said ALL's UK subsidiary Optare makes electric buses. So ALL will follow European-based strategy, which Optare does. "The UK buses got very high battery level, capacity and need to be charged only once or twice in a day. This would help in addressing one of the major challenges, infrastructure for charging," he said.

ALL also has the circuit-based technology as part of the second strategy, which it developed in India. This has different battery system, controller system and different type of charging mechanism. In October 2016, ALL has named the country's first 'Made in India' bus as 'Circuit'. The initial investment is around Rs 22 crore. The company had earmarked around Rs 500 crore for the completion of the product in a phased manner.

The third strategy is working on the battery swapping technology, which the company is currently looking at.

Industry experts say the cost of electric vehicles have started coming down. 

The acceptance of electric and hybrid buses is slow in India, mainly because of the cost factor. The average cost of hybrid or electric buses is 3-4 times higher than diesel buses.

Centre and other agencies have started engaging with STUs to bring them on board as they are keen on running electric buses.