The Electric Car’s (And Motorcycle’s) Highway Problem – And 3 Solutions

Electric cars have a problem. No. It’s not about their limited range. Or slow charging times. Or limited charging infrastructure. It’s about their inability to efficiently cruise at high speeds.

This is not a new problem for the auto industry. The petrol and diesel engines have suffered from narrow torque bands since their birth. Engineers found a way around this problem by adding multi-speed transmission. As long as a car’s engine stays between a specific RPM range and has enough torque available there to overcome the weight, frictional and aerodynamic drag, it can cruise efficiently. The onus of changing gears can be upon you or an auto-box.

Unlike petrol and diesel cars, electric cars don’t have a multi-speed transmission. So, how do they attain high speeds? By revving some more. A Tesla Model S, for example, can rev up to 18000rpm. With a fixed-ratio drivetrain, the motor adds 1kmph of speed for every 90rpm. Compared to an internal combustion engine, 18000rpm is downright bonkers.

To see how it delivers that performance, let’s consider the middle-of-the-road Model S 85’s performance graph. That’s the green line shown below. The solid line is for the torque in Nm and the dotted line is for power in kW. As you can see, its peak torque of 445Nm comes in pretty much as soon as it starts rolling. It stays strong till about 78kmph (7000rpm) and then starts dropping. The power curve keeps ramping up till it reaches 323PS and then stops making any progress as the torque drops off. But when the torque really starts to catch the gravity at about 130kmph (11700rpm), the power starts dropping too.

If you’ve fallen for the horsepower trick that carmakers play all the time, then allow us to break it down for you. Power is a result of torque at a given RPM. There’s also a constant involved, but in simple terms, know that Power = Torque X RPM.

So, the strong acceleration you feel in any car is actually the result of strong torque at those RPMs. The graph here clearly shows the relation between the two. While the torque is strong, the power keeps rising with RPMs. But, depending on how rapidly the torque drops, the power starts fading too.

Based on the Tesla Model S power graph, it’s clear that the motor is not making the same kind of torque beyond 7000rpm.

Sky-high revving electric motors aren’t just limited to Teslas. The Renault Zoe also revs to an astounding 11300rpm. Its motor adds 1kmph to the speedometer reading for every 82rpm increase in the motor revs. It makes 110PS of power from 3395 to 10980rpm. That should give you an idea about where the torque starts its downward journey. The figures sing the same song. Its peak torque of 225Nm is available between 1500 and 3390rpm. That number is like deja vu. In typical electric vehicle fashion, there would be a healthy amount of torque below 1500rpm as well, but in this case, it peaks at 1500 and stays put till 3390rpm.

Judging by its peak torque figure, we can say that you’ll experience the best of its performance up to about 42kmph.

Now, let’s talk about the efficiency part of an electric motor and why you shouldn’t rev it hard.

The above graph shows the battery power consumed at a given speed (yellow), aerodynamic drag (red) and the power required to compensate for the increase in aero drag (blue). As you can see, the actual power consumption and power required to deal with the aerodynamic drag at 30kmph is same. However, once the speedometer starts climbing, actual power consumption increases drastically – far beyond what’s needed to compensate for the aero drag.

The reason for this exponential increase in battery power consumption is inefficiencies in the electric motor itself at higher RPMs. That’s not unlike petrol and diesel engines. Similar to a combustion engine, revving the guts out of an electric motor can not only cause excessive damage, overheating and premature failure but will also consume excessive battery. In simple terms, cruising at 50kmph and 100kmph is not the same in an electric car with a fixed ratio transmission. You will get better range per charge if you cruise at a slower speed in an electric vehicle. How slow can you cruise without hampering the range? Well, that depends on the peak torque rpm of the electric motor.

Here’s a video of Tata Nexon electric getting a boot-full of accelerator:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmeFaaJ4g_M

Things worth noting here are the estimated range, distance covered during the test displayed in the trip meter and power consumption. In the beginning, the estimated range is 101km, the trip meter reading is 4.8km and average power consumption for that trip was 132Wh/km. By the end of this short video, the range drops by 2km while the distance covered is only 0.8km. The power consumption at the end is 163Wh/km.

I did the number-crunching for you and found out that during that 800m run, it consumed about 280Wh/km. So if you drive it at its top speed, you can expect to go about 108km on a full charge of its 30.2kWh battery pack. That’s an efficiency of just 3.6kmpu. Tata expects the typical usage to stay under 100Wh/km or 10km per unit (kmpu) of electricity. That’s because the regen is also expected to add some range back into the batteries.

It means that despite its 129PS of power and 245Nm of torque output, the Nexon electric isn’t meant for the highway. It’s supposed to be used in the city. Tata Motors also confirms our suspicion by not offering cruise control in the Nexon electric. The petrol and diesel models of the Nexon facelift get the highway-friendly feature. If you intend to use your Nexon electric on the highway – at highway speeds – then expect far less than the advertised 312km of range.



Solution #1 – Multi-Speed Transmission

Driving a manual transmission in stop-and-go traffic is a lot of pain in a petrol or diesel car. But in an electric car, it won’t be as miserable. Even when you’re fully stopped, an engine keeps revving. While the engine is idling, you keep your car from crawling past a stoplight either by braking or by pressing the clutch pedal and disengaging the drivetrain. An electric car doesn’t rev at idle. So, you don’t need to do any of those things. Even when rolling off in an EV with a stick shift, you won’t have to lift off the clutch carefully. In fact, to get moving, you don’t even need to use the clutch as there’s no mismatch of speed between the engine and the wheels – they’re both at 0rpm.

A transmission adds ~40kg of weight to a mass-market car but you can use it to get better mileage and speed. It can allow you to drive your electric car efficiently at high speeds. It doesn’t need to be a 5- or 6-speed gearbox like normal petrol or diesel cars. Even 2- or 3-speed transmissions are more than enough to efficiently drive an electric car on the highway – at triple-digit speeds. Those who don’t like the manual transmission can just slot it in their preferred gear and drive it like an EV with a single-speed transmission.

Porsche is already doing it. Could you imagine the embarrassment of buying a Porsche and not being able to drive it on the Autobahn? You can’t drive a Tesla the way you should on the German expressway with no speed limit. That’s why the Porsche Taycan has a 2-speed transmission. So, even after hitting 120 – 130kmph, it can continue to pull like crazy to its top speed of 260kmph.

A multi-speed manual transmission, though, could be especially exciting for enthusiasts as it allows us to gain some control over the vehicle. With a manual gearbox, a driver can better exploit the electric car’s bottom-end torque and enjoy an engaging drive slotting gears.

Since it’s not a completely new concept, it shouldn’t cost a lot in R&D. The tech already exists. It just needs to be adapted to work with electric cars. If Porsche can do it, so can others. Its benefits aren’t just limited to high-end cars. While the performance-focused electric cars can get better top speeds out of a multi-speed transmission, a budget car could leverage it for a better driving range.

Multiple electric motorcycle manufacturers – Indian and foreign – have decided to add multi-speed transmissions to their vehicles, which further validates this theory. eMotion’s Surge, Tacita T-Cruise and Kymco RevoNEX are in line to get a multi-speed transmission. It’ll allow their electric motors to efficiently utilize whatever little juice their batteries can store in them. It’s all the more important for a motorcycle to keep its weight in check as the rider has to manage it at parking, city, and cruising speeds. The fact that electric motorcycle makers are choosing multi-speed transmission instead of more batteries to get longer range suggests that adding more batteries to achieve similar range may have a worse weight penalty.

Here’s what the founder and CEO of eMotion, Pranav Singanapalli, had to say to justify adding a gearbox to the Surge electric motorcycle:

“We have 3 reasons – the first is we want to preserve the experience of riding a conventional motorcycle. We want to keep the experience familiar to a traditional bike owner. Secondly, it is the efficiency – the motor has an rpm when it delivers the best efficiency, and we can maintain that with the gearbox and thirdly we can offer great torque and acceleration without compromising the top speed.”



Solution #2 – Add More Battery

Adding more battery is one of the options to get a decent range from an electric vehicle on the highways.

The obvious problem with this is the cost. Although the cost of lithium batteries has dropped drastically in recent years, it’s still the single most expensive component in an electric vehicle. Making EVs more expensive isn’t going to help them spread the good word.

The not-so-obvious issue with adding more battery is the kerb weight. If you only occasionally need to drive on the highways, lugging that extra weight of the batteries around the city makes little sense. Not to mention, its adverse effects on the life span of the car’s tyres, brakes and suspension. It’s good insurance, but a heavy one – literally.



Solution #3 – Empty Slots For Renting Battery

Let’s say your car has slots for 50kWh worth of batteries but you only need 200-250km of range from the electric car for 99% of the time. Well, then just ask for a car with a 25kWh of battery and leave the rest of the slots empty but easily accessible. When you want to make a highway trip, rent 25kWh batteries from the dealership for a week or two, fill up those empty slots and enjoy ~500km of range at modest speeds. Or about 300km at highway speeds. This strategy will also keep the upfront costs of the vehicle down and leave the option of adding more battery if and when needed.

Having a serviceable hatch mechanism for storing batteries also opens up the possibility of significantly cutting the revival times and lowering the upfront costs of the car. You can buy the car without the battery. Just lease them instead. Rather than waiting for hours recharging your car along the highways, it could be possible to just replace the batteries at an outlet. It drastically cuts down the time required to top up and hit the road again. Since you don’t own the batteries, you don’t need to worry about the condition of the replacement either. Third-party battery makers can also chip in to offer competitive prices for a replacement battery pack for your car.

References: Electrek

MyRenaultZoe

EVSpecifications

(The article is written by Mahesh Yadav. Mahesh is car and motorcycle lover. But unlike most enthusiasts, who can’t have enough, he believes that great things come in small packages. As a fan and firm believer of the ‘Just enough. Just in time.’ theory, he loves the underappreciated vehicles that offer just enough to meet the consumer needs for as little cash as possible. The list of his favorite cars includes the Eicher Polaris Multix, Tata Nano, Honda Brio, Mazda Miata, MG E200, and the likes.)

Fastest OEMs to sell 1L units in a single FY after its inception in Indian Market

Many Automobile OEMs started their journey in the Indian Market in late 90s but only few are able to crack the market Maruti would have done. One such way of understanding is how many years these OEMs took to sell 1L units in a single financial year. Below is the Y-o-Y sales figures of few OEMs:



  • 6 out of the above 7 OEMS started their Automobile journeys in late 90s
  • Hyundai, Tata & Renault being the fastest to reach 1L units milestone in a single FY since its entry in the Indian automobile market
  • Renault was able to reach this milestone after the launch of Kwid in 2015
  • Honda is the slowest amongst these as it took 15 years to reach 1L units in a single FY and this was possible with the launch of Amaze in 2013
  • Ford is yet to reach this milestone in spite of entering the Indian market 21 years ago – as a result we saw the merger of Ford with Mahindra in mid-2019

Above data clearly indicates that those companies that understood the Indian customers’ requirement/tastes/buying pattern and brought in new products at right price have been able to gain higher volumes

PS: Maruti’s initial data was not available (1984-1998) and hence has been excluded from the aforementioned comparison.

All about Own Damage Bike Insurance

Know Everything About an Own Damage Bike Insurance Cover to Safeguard Your Finances Effectively!

In 2018, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) allowed insurance providers in India to make three types of insurance policies available to two-wheeler owners in India.

These are

  1. Bundled insurance.
  2. Long-term third-party insurance cover.
  3. Long-term comprehensive cover.

To add to this, IRDAI in September 2019 has allowed insurance providers to introduce an annual own damage policy for two and four-wheeler vehicles in the country. This policy is offered at the discretion of insurance providers.

What is Own Damage Bike Insurance?

Own damage insurance for bike is a standalone bike insurance policy that provides financial protection against damages and losses to your own bike.

Some of the instances covered under this insurance policy include damages due to accidents, theft, natural calamities, fire, etc.

This policy can be availed only by someone who has an existing third-party liability cover in place.

Thus, by availing own damage cover alongside your third-party liability cover, you can make sure your financial losses are minimal in the face of unfavourable circumstances.

How Does it Work?

Unlike third-party liability cover or comprehensive insurance cover, own damage cover solely protects the insured bike against damages and losses.

Previously, own damage cover could be purchased only as a part of comprehensive bike insurance policies. But, as per new rules, you have the flexibility to purchase OD cover separately from the other two standalone covers.

It works like any other insurance cover, where the policyholder has to pay a fixed premium amount to avail financial protection for their bikes.

This policy can also be further modified with add-on covers like –

  • A zero-depreciation cover.
  • Roadside breakdown assistance.
  • Return to invoice cover.
  • Tyre protection cover.
  • Engine and gearbox protection cover, etc.

Why was this Cover Implemented by the IRDA?

This cover was implemented separately by the IRDA because it allows you to avail protection against the damages to your own bike even if you already have an existing third-party liability cover in place.

You can understand the usefulness of the policy better with an example!

Let us assume that you have purchased a bike and an accompanying third-party liability cover, which insures your bike for the next three years. Sometime later, you realise that the liability only cover is not sufficient to provide you with 100% protection against liabilities involving your two-wheeler because it doesn’t protect your own vehicle.

Under this circumstance, the own damage cover can help to protect your bike against all types of damages incurred.

Can You Buy the Cover? Look at the Eligibility Criteria!

You can purchase the own damage cover if you comply with the following criteria –

  1. If you have purchased your bike after 1st September 2018.
  2. If you have a pre-existing long-term third-party bike insurance cover.

After ascertaining that you comply with these factors, you can avail the Own Damage bike cover.

Advantages Available Under the OD Cover

The advantages from the OD cover can be illustrated in the table below –

Instance Explanation
Accidents The policy provides financial protection to your bike against damages due to accident, collision, etc.
Theft Provides financial coverage if your bike is stolen.
Fire Financially protects your bike against damages from a fire outbreak.
Natural calamity Calamities like flood, storm, lightning, etc. can cause extensive damage to your bike. This insurance policy covers the damages incurred due to these.

Since this cover can be availed with an existing third-party liability cover, it provides all-round protection for your bike, thus securing your finances more effectively.

How is the Premium Payment For this OD Cover Determined?

With third-party liability covers, the IRDA publishes fixed rates for the cover annually. These rates depend on the insured bike’s engine capacity, with no variable component.

But with the OD cover, the premium calculation is a tad bit more complicated. The quote offered by insurance companies depend on factors like –

  1. Bike’s cc (engine capacity).
  2. Vehicle’s Insured Declared Value.
  3. Vehicle’s area of registration.
  4. Bike’s make and model.
  5. Age of the bike.
  6. Add-on covers.
  7. Voluntary deductibles.

Insurance providers offer the OD cover with these factors and the premium from the third-party liability cover in consideration.

Things to Remember About the Policy

  • Insurance providers cannot offer long-term standalone OD covers. You can choose to renew your standalone cover annually.
  • Insurance providers can offer you the OD cover only if you have an existing third-party liability cover.
  • The prices for standalone OD cover are the same as the add-on OD component of a standard two-wheeler insurance cover.
  • The OD cover should contain details like your existing third-party cover’s start and end date, policy number, etc.

So, without delay, get the OD cover and secure yourself against losses today!

PS: It is a sponsored post. 








Car of the year 2018 – Maruti Ertiga

You may be wondering whether the year & car is mentioned wrongly in the title – No, it is absolutely right! While; all major publications/channels are announcing the Car of the Year 2019; we would like to have the privilege to share our Car of the Year 2018 for a very simple reason that – We have substantial data to compare the sales volumes of the cars launched in 2018. And the detailed Report Card for the Cars Launched in 2018 is as shown –

“Sales performer, amongst the cars launched in the year 2018 goes to…. Maruti Ertiga!”

Since in 2019 the market de-grew, we have taken industry de-growth figure as yardstick for assessment. For apple to apple comparison monthly average figure is considered.





Honda CR-V

It is among the 10 best-selling cars in the world, but performance in India, is quite underwhelming.

In India, diesel engine is always considered as a vital ingredient for successful big SUV recipe. Honda-India, finally got that ingredient in 2018, for 4th generation (India) CRV. But vital ingredient – drivetrains, are flawed in CRV’s case. CVT transmission spoils the performance of petrol engine (154 PS output) and diesel engine is out rightly underpowered (mere 120 PS  output – Hyundai Creta has 128 PS Diesel Automatic engine at 15.22 Lakhs ex-showroom Delhi).

Irony, first two generations performed better than the current generation, even without diesel power plant, that too in a market which was far too less mature for premium petrol powered SUV.

And the high asking price has not gone well with Indian buyers at all, huge cash discount of 5 lakhs INR (announced on website!), just corroborate this.





Maruti Ertiga+XL6

Maruti has basically used enriched ingredients for 2nd generation Ertiga – bigger, more powerful and fuel efficient engines (1.5L Petrol & 1.5L Diesel), more space for 3rd row of seat, distinct styling (different from siblings – Swift & Dzire), and then served at right price. And of course, a well thought out derivative in the form of XL6, which added incremental numbers in 2019.

Though it is an apple to orange comparison, but Ertiga has had garnered, much-much better sales volume, than Toyota Innova, that too in a challenging year.

Honda Amaze

It is performing better in 2019, in otherwise challenging market, where segment leader Maruti Dzire suffered severe volume loss on account of automobile industry recession.

Yet, Honda Amaze is far too distant from segment leader Maruti Dzire. Statistics shows, that Amaze has actually eaten into the market share of the weakest players.

What actually helped the cause, is, American Honda Accord inspired design. Certainly, Indian buyers love American or European design language.



Mahindra Alturas

Alturas is basically Mahindra’s owned Ssangyong brand’s SUV Rexton, with Mahindra badge.

For an SUV – it is big, looks brute, has an inviting interior with all bells and whistles along with a powerful engine, and undercuts competitor’s price as well.

Still it is stuck, at one third mark of facelifted Ford Endeavour. Only reason that comes to mind is – Mahindra Badge Value or in other words – Brand image (how consumer perceive the brand, for example – Toyota Fortuner redeems the price premium it charges with good resale value, even without sunroof).

However, Alturas has eaten into mighty Toyota Fortuner’s market share. So, can Alturas build that brand image in long term for Mahindra, with all those good product attributes mentioned earlier, only time will tell or has Mahindra missed the opportunity to create a sub-brand (high stake) for premium category products?



Maruti Swift

With every passing generation, Swift is becoming a much stronger brand in itself.

Source : http://www.globalncap.org/results/

As per Global NCAP ratings, current generation of Indian Swift (with 2 front airbags) is safer than the previous generation (test car with – 0 airbag). 2 star out of possible 5, is still disappointing for such a popular car, which by no means can be considered as cheap in India. And for those 2 stars, special thanks goes to, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways – India, forcing every passenger car maker to provide front airbag and ABS as mandatory safety equipment.

Hyundai Santro

Legendry Santro, the product which build a company in India, transformed the PV industry, from sellers’ market to buyers’ market, sadly, is no more a legend in present avatar. Santro is struggling, to even keep up with the traditional rival – Wagon R’s second fiddle, Celerio.

Looking at i20, Creta and Venue, Hyundai could have done a much better job on Santro, it is Hyundai’s missed opportunity in design department to style Santro, in today’s much loved SUV frock. And yes, Maruti still has its trump card – fuel efficient, refined petrol engine which are nice to drive – that’s a technological competence.



 Mahindra Marazzo

Mahindra identified a sweet spot in MUV segment, both in terms of price and size, and that is – positioning in between Maruti Ertiga and Toyota Innova.

But by then, Maruti has changed the rule of game, with the new generation Ertiga. Ertiga offers similar in-cabin space, better 3rd row seating, slightly more boot space, similar equipment level, has much better fuel efficiency at the cost of power, and cost almost 3.5 lakhs INR less (diesel top-end).  Now Marazzo is stuck in a spot, which doesn’t seems sweet anymore.

What is though commendable, is 4 star safety rating of Marazzo, where Maruti Ertiga scored just 3. But then, unfortunately, for large number of Indian buyers, safety is not top priority, for example – 2 star rated Maruti Swift still sells in large volume. Which makes the role of Government even more crucial to regulate the industry, not only for safety but also for emission standards.

Mitsubishi Outlander

An SUV, that doesn’t have much of visual appeal on 16” alloy wheel, having dated 6.1” touchscreen infotainment system, with a 10.2 kmpl claimed efficiency for a petrol engine coupled with CVT transmission, ‘outlandishly’ priced at 31.95 lakhs ex-showroom, is certainly a recipe for disaster, and guess what, it turned out to be a disaster. With cars like Pajero and Lancer, Mitsubishi brand still has cult following, but company is unfortunately not listening.

Toyota Yaris

Mother of all flops! Brought to you by Toyota, maker of mighty Fortuner and Innova. Car was certainly overpriced, seems slightly dated in company of Honda City, Hyundai Verna, and Maruti Ciaz, and that killed its chance, immediately on arrival.

Even Maruti, had a better run in the past.

Well in past Maruti also had a lot of struggle (read : Baleno & SX4) to make a mark in the segment ruled by Honda City for years. But then Maruti finally got the ingredient and recipe right with Ciaz, in otherwise dying segment. So, when recipe and ingredients are so well known in the market, how Toyota could go so wrong?



Takeaway

(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at emailrohanrishi@gmail.com)








2019 Passenger Vehicles Market Analysis – YTD & Q3

Prolonged recession in passenger vehicle industry, started in later half of 2018 due to several headwinds, like, fuel price hike, interest rate hike, insurance price hike, election results uncertainty, has now turned for the worse, due to financial sector crisis and overall demand-consumption slowdown.

2019 by far, has been worst year for PV industry.

Compare to Q1 & Q2, Q3 usually remains a lean season owing to monsoon. But due to financial and lending sector crisis, Q3 2019 has been in terrible shape.

All the progress made by the industry since 2014 has been completely reversed, for now.





Manufacturers

Every other manufacturer is suffering due to downturn, including luxury car makers. Some have to undergo little less pain, due to new product launches lined up for launch in 2019.

Body style

  • MUV : has shown some growth in otherwise struggling market condition
  • SUV : off- late it is also struggling
  • Hatchback : worse than industry
  • Sedan : unarguably in worse situation

MUV Segment is still growing

Volume change over 2018

  • Bigger, next-gen Eritga, with more powerful engine, has a very strong value proposition
  • What is also helping Ertiga and XL6, is clever price positioning in sedan’s territory





Is BS6 anxiety leading to slow down?

BS6 emission norms will come into effect from 1st April 2020, post that manufacturers cannot produce or sell BS4 compliant cars in India.

This also led to anxiety among the potential buyers, as what will happen if they buy BS4 cars now, and, Government or Judicial body, through another regulation may ban the usage in, say, next 10 or 15 years. This might have led them to defer their purchase decision.

Though some also consider this as a major factor of slowdown.

However, reality looks little different though. New entrant – MG, still has BS4 cars on sale in India as per media report.

Source : Autocar 4th Jul 2019 12:50 pm

https://www.autocarindia.com/car-news/bs6-compliant-mg-hector-to-be-introduced-in-january-2020-413320

Despite having BS4 engine, every month, MG is able to sell more Hectors. It is largely due to very aggressive pricing, making it a great value for money offering. So new entrant instead of expanding the segment size, has eaten into competitor’s pie.

Moreover, post BS6 implementation, every manufacturer will raise the price due to additional hardware, software and development cost of BS6 engine. Due to price elasticity of demand, it will adversely impact the growth, further.



Real reason

Indian economy is largely struggling with overall consumption-demand slowdown. This is clearly reflecting in quarterly GDP growth rate, which has nosedived since Q2 2018. Below illustration shows how PV growth rate follows the cues from GDP growth rate.

Amidst a slowdown in economy, consumers are spending on need-based purchase and are mostly holding back on discretionary spending. New car purchase (depreciating-asset) being a discretionary spend, is suffering too. In challenging economy, need-based car buyers may also head to used-car market, for right bargain.

Given the current state of manufacturing sector, Q3 GDP growth data will not be that good either. Recent Corporate tax rate cut may help companies to grow their bottom-line (profit) but may not help much with top-line (revenue).

Excess profitability may not restart investment cycle because there is less demand. Fiscal stimulus on supply side may not revitalize demand cycle.

What is more worrying, is India losing its status of fast growing major economy. Global factors and trade-war has impacted many other global economies, but Indian economy is facing worse, than one can imagine.

Data Source: https://tradingeconomics.com/ (04.09.2019)

India growth story was, and has always been about the growing middle class and the consumption. To put it in right perspective, it is always about reaching to China’s per capita income level, as India and China have similar population size.

(The article is written by Rohan Rishi. You can connect with him at emailrohanrishi@gmail.com)