We all have heard about hybridisation in terms of automobiles. For those of you who came in late, hybridisation is achieved by plugging in a battery pack along with your regular petrol engine. Depending on the technology, your car may run purely on electricity for some part of the journey or the electric motor will supplement the petrol engine. It is a bit more complex than what we have explained here though. There though is an entirely new breed of converting Internal Combustion Engines to pure electrics. This is happening in India and is done by a start-up called E-Trio Automobiles. Founded by Sathya Yalamanchili in 2016, E-Trio Automobiles has been testing their conversion kits on Indian cars so far.
Sathya, an alumni of Harvard Extension school, says that the E-Trio factory is ready to sell kits and retrofitted cars in the market. The retrofitted kits have been sourced from China and Korea while the controller is an in-house development. The immediate goal for the company is to convert at least 5,000 cars by end-2019. The Indian government’s vision of going all-electric by 2030 is the goal that E-Trio is working towards. Sathya also says that the converted cars require minimal maintenance as there are less moving parts. He further adds that these cars can be charged from anywhere and a charging socket too is provided with the modified car.
Currently only the Maruti Suzuki Alto and Wagon R in the hatchback category and the Swift Dzire in sedan category have been given approval by the governing body, ARAI. Sathya says that they are in the process of getting ARAI certification for more popular Indian cars. The primary aim is to ensure that the vehicles are hassle free as well as devoid of any kind of pollution. Point taken! However, there were some pressing questions and we have got the answers for you below.
Here are a few excerpts of the conversation with Sathya from E-Trio
1) Where did the idea for converting regular cars to electric come from?
Retrofitting cars can be produced at the lower cost as 30% in terms of taxes are absorbed already by the product.
2) Where did you get the financial aid from?
As of now, we are self funded.
3) How big is E-trio facility in terms of area and where is it located?
60,000 sq.ft. and located in Bolarum, Telangana.
4) The website specifies E150 and E180. I understand this is the range associated with the vehicles. How do you classify which car can have how much range?
We are working on only two hatchbacks and one sedan. Two hatchbacks will run up to 150 kms and the sedan will run up to 180 kms.
5) How much time does it take for the conversion?
Today, we are doing it in less than 12 hours.
6) Is there a specific age of the car to which this can be done? Can I get it done for a 15-year plus old car?
It depends on the particular car, doing the health check by our team.
7) Do you handle the RTO as well as insurance formalities?
Yes, we do.
8) What is the cost per conversion over the donor car?
Initially, we don’t want to encourage retail sales but would be selling it to fleet customers like taxi companies where the volumes are high. A retrofitted car with the kit installed would cost less than $10,000.
9) Who takes care of the after sales aspect?
Based on the customer and size of the order, we setup a small service station.
10? How many vehicles have you converted so far and is this service available across India?
We have converted 25 cars so far and have been testing for three and a half years. As of now we are based in Hyderabad but we would be scaling up even to North India as we are in discussion with few customers.
11) Can scooters/bikes too be converted to electric vehicles?
Yes, they can be converted but they are not worth doing so as the frame cost is very low.
12) How much battery life can be expected?
Battery can go upto 3000 cycles.
13) What is the charge time per vehicle?
Around five hours.
14) What happens to the original engine and mechanical parts of the vehicle?
As of now, we are removing them. Then reselling or exporting it to other countries.
15) Can one switch back to the original engine in future?
Yes, it is possible.