Indias driving habits may see a different approach to battery range - and therefore cost

India's driving habits may see a different approach to battery range - and therefore cost

Tata Motors says it has been evaluating ways to make battery provision cheaper for customers in India as the manufacturer looks to broaden the appeal of electric vehicles.

Speaking at the recent Battery & Energy Storage Conference at the University of Warwick in the UK's Midlands region, the Indian manufacturer noted the proportion of battery cost in purchases had to be addressed.

"The challenge we face is electric vehicles are close to unaffordable for India," said Tata Motors European Technical Centre head of propulsion, David Hudson at Warwick University. In India, the battery can represent significantly more than half the cost of the vehicle, so we have been looking at ways to reduce the cost of the battery.

"I don't want to give people more battery than they need. You can't afford to burden them with weight and volume, especially with smaller cars. Not everybody can afford a 100km battery and want a car which can get to 60mph in the blink of an eye.

"The relationship with the supply industry then becomes much easier because you can charge – using 3kw you can use from domestic supply. We have to be careful as an industry to make sure not one size fits all."

Hudson noted Western European drivers' aspirations for electric vehicles often centre around a desire for 300km-400km range, but Indian consumers operate on a significantly different model.

"In India the average drive is 40km a day," added the Tata Motors European Technical Centre head of propulsion. "If you can get a collaboration with the energy supply industry and there is a deal they can accept, then we are on the path to mass adoption.

"Leading the vehicle cost with the battery cost is the problem. You make the battery as small as you possibly dare [and] make sure the electric vehicle sits on a small platform. It needs a lot of cooperation with this mysterious thing called the supply industry."

India's massive middle class appears to be more sympathetic to the idea of electric vehicles, with anything between 200m and 300m potential consumers looking at new ways of purchasing mobility.

"It has been very visible in India, the purchasing decision of a car has gone to something where the real money earners, who are 25 to 30 year olds, are making decisions based on what they see on the internet and what they see on the market.

"India is [also] forecast to be home to even more megacities and traffic congestion is an issue."