PMI Has Pan India Operations In 23 Cities With 900+ Buses Plying On Routes Under B2G Facilitating Public Transport Services: Kanchan Kalra, Vice President – After Sales Service, Parts and ITMS Control Room – Electric Vehicle, PMI Electro Mobility Solutions Private Limited

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Kanchan Kalra - Vice President – After Sales Service, Parts and ITMS Control Room - Electric Vehicle, PMI Electro Mobility Solutions Private Limited
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Conversation Highlights:

  • PMI not only boasts of optimum performing products but also innovative and reliable technology that powers its entire range of product portfolios.
  • In the next 5 years, solid-state batteries, and Aluminum-air batteries technology will be ready for usage, thus removing the dependency on Lithium batteries.
  • The total share of e-buses is increasing year on year—it was 0.1% in FY21 and 0.4% in FY22 and is expected to increase by 9% till FY26.

How has your journey in the EV industry been so far?

It has been a wonderful journey, full of learning. I have explored a lot while working in EV Industry, given its uniqueness, growth opportunities, challenges, and stability. I headed the Department of Aftersales and Service in PMI Electro, a commercial electric buses manufacturer that has a 28% market share in the business of buses in India and is currently the no.1 OEM e-bus operator in India. PMI has a pan India operation in 23 cities with 900+ buses plying on routes under B2G facilitating public transport services. Consistent regular operation with 99% fleet availability and schedule maintenance of an entire fleet of e-buses is a challenge on its own. The manpower, material, equipment, parts, costing, revenue, and contract compliances are a few major aspects of e-buses operation & maintenance that must be addressed on priority for PMI to achieve milestones.

Could you brief us about the products you offer?

PMI not only boasts of optimum performing products but also innovative and reliable technology that powers its entire range of product portfolio.

PMI offers a wide range of buses in all three standard lengths of 7m, 9m, and 12 m categories, apart from a wide combination range when it comes to low floor, medium floor, standard floor buses, BRTS buses, A/C and Non-A/C buses.

PMI is the only OEM in India that has its entire product range plying on the road. PMI buses have a corrosion-resistant monocoque structure which is an integral part of the bus body, that provides a very good strength-to-weight ratio for vehicle load-bearing capacity.

PMI buses contain high-tech safety and comfort equipment for passenger safety, with continuous live monitoring of the buses by RTMS, ITS & PIS system. GPS tracking, Live CCTV, Automatic Panic alarms, etc. are in-built into the bus. PMI buses can run 150-180 km on a single charge, thanks to high-capacity compact advanced LMO Li-ion batteries of 151 KW.

PMI buses can produce max. torque of 2100 Nm for harsh terrain & load bearing, which is produced by a powerful Advanced PMSM AC Motor.

PMI buses offer independent air suspension that allows passengers to enjoy a smooth ride on Indian roads.

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The Foton technology used is very reliable & well integrated into the product and all the HV & LV components are linked in a sink in such a way any minor fault or glitch detected will reflect on the cluster.

PMI buses are enabled with IP 68 technology that makes the product completely free from any electrical hazard and is 100% water resistant.

There is detailed and continuous monitoring of the battery health, especially of each cell temperature, voltage, current, and cell charging and discharging.

PMI buses can be charged in just 30-45 mins from 20% to 100% of SOC. PMI buses have GB/T Standard fast DC charging Sockets for uniform fast charging.

PMI buses offer optimum comfort to the passengers for weather changes as these are integrated with central cooling A/C for summer and defrosters for winter.

PMI buses can smoothly run on the roads at chilling -20 degree Celsius to 60 degree Celsius with complete passenger comfort.

PMI buses have proved their mettle even on challenging terrains such as Ladakh’s bone-cold mountains to Kerala’s slippery rainy weather that have encouraged customers to rely on PMI buses over the years.

With regards to the Automotive industry and especially the EV industry, what are the big technology shifts we are likely to see in the near future?

The automotive industry is a continuously growing and evolving sector and the EV segment is the new wing of the Automotive industry that outperforms conventional diesel/petrol automotive not only in terms of cost but technology. In the EV sector, technical advancement is as rapid as its challenges. The major challenge is the range anxiety plaguing the consumers, with a lack of robust charging infrastructure in India. Current EV technology is running on Lithium-Ion battery technology, especially on cathode chemistry such as Lithium Manganese oxide (LMO), Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC), and Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA). These are the most widely used cathode chemistries, but these all have their limitations and advantages, still, these are insufficient to deliver the range diesel/petrol vehicle gives which leads us to the challenge of charging or refueling.

In upcoming technical advancements in terms of battery chemistries, the Lithium anode chemistry has started grabbing the imagination of the EV market i.e, Lithium Titanate oxide (LTO) has approximately 10K-20K cycle life and gives a range of 250-450 km with a single charge, apart from being temperature resilient. In the next 5 years, solid-state batteries, and Aluminum-air batteries technology will be ready for usage, thus removing the dependency on Lithium batteries. Lithium-Sulfur and Sodium-Ion batteries are also in development. Reliance Energy is developing Sodium-ion battery technology in India under the ACC scheme of GOI. Companies like Exide, Amara raja, Tata Chemicals, Toshiba, Amperex, Reliance, OLA, and Panasonic are developing battery technologies along with their BMS in India.

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In the case of electronics, compounds like Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride circuit boards and PCBs are in development that will hit the market in about 3 years. This will not only increase the current load-bearing capacity of electronic circuits but also make them compact and flexible with high capacity.

What strategies are being implemented at PMI Electric Mobility to ensure further scaling up and expansion of its EV journey?

PMI is scaling its EV journey by working on its products and core technology with a customer-centric approach.

PMI is focused on 100% indigenous product development since the very beginning and is consistently working to enhance product performance.

PMI pushes research and development on EV technology, especially on battery performance and technology, HV & LV electronics, stability & reliability of products along with passenger safety, surveillance & tracking.

PMI is about to start its new 33-acre high-tech manufacturing facility at Chakan, Pune in 2024-25, targeting an annual production capacity of 2500 vehicles.

PMI has customer satisfaction at the top of its priority list, with strict adherence to STU norms and compliances.

PMI is planning to launch depots with charging facilities for public usage during non-useful hours.

PMI is working on establishing its own indigenous battery and motor technology.

PMI is developing technology to bolster charging infrastructure development.

PMI is planning to manufacture electric trucks & intercity buses in the next 2-3 years and expand its electric portfolio to 15 models ranging across light & heavy vehicles.

PMI is planning to tap the potential of private sector transport in the future such as airports, schools & colleges, private operators, travel sectors, defense, and sports, etc. where there will arise a massive demand for electric buses for replacement of existing diesel/CNG buses.

Besides the measures being taken by the Government for encouraging and promoting electric vehicles, according to you, what more do you think the government should do in this regard?

The Indian government is aiding the EV revolution by implementing and streamlining initiatives such as FAME-1&2, PLI Scheme, ACC scheme, Battery Swapping Policy, Duty Reduction on Electric Vehicles, and setting up Special E-mobility Zone, etc. It has also reduced the GST of EVs from 12% to 5% and the same has been done for charging facilities, with the GST reduced to 5% from 18%. The government has also set major goals for the EV industry such as the electrification of 70% of commercial vehicles, 80% of 2Ws & 3Ws, 30% of Cars, and 40% of buses in the country by 2030, with an aim for Rs. 40,000 Crore market cap of EV Industry. In the bus segment alone, there is an annual requirement of 100,000 e-buses for the next 5 years to hit the target. Public sector bodies like CESL have already set the target of 50,000 e-buses in the next five years of which 5430 e-buses are already allocated to 5 cities and a tender of 5690 e-buses has been floated for 5 cities. In a recent development, CESL has increased the no. of e-buses from 5690 to 6465 buses for 7 cities. A total of approx. 20 lakhs buses are on the road including the public and private sectors. The total share of e-buses is increasing year on year—it was 0.1% in FY21 and 0.4% in FY22 and is expected to increase by 9% till FY26. But progress is slow. India lags behind the global average for bus penetration, India with 1.2 buses/1000 people which is way less than China.

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There is a lot of scope for development in the EV ecosystem, that can be taken care of by the government:

Focus on hybrid vehicles (Petrol + Electric or CNG + Electric) to encourage the common man to move from conventional vehicles to electric.

Encourage stable charging and swapping technology to address range anxiety.

Aid to new enterprises and startups to develop indigenous battery technology and cell manufacturing, along with HV & LV electronics for the EV industry.

Float disposal policy and standard battery disposal techniques and processes to avoid future disposal crises.

Support and incentivize the vendor/suppliers of major Specifically EV parts and components manufacturers like Power distribution units, motor & MCU, BMS, etc.

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