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Can electric vehicles withstand the Indian heat?

With the unveiling of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged manufacturers to adopt electric vehicles in an attempt to reduce our dependence on imported oil. The ambitious plan aims to produce 6-7 million electric vehicles by 2020 with an estimated fuel savings of 2.2-2.5 million tonnes. Vehicle manufacturers in India have a tough road ahead in meeting this goal and tailoring electric vehicles for the Indian market.

In comparison to petrol/diesel cars, electric vehicles are propelled by an electric motor and a battery pack. In petrol/diesel cars, the tank size decides the driving range, while in electric vehicles, the battery pack determines the driving range. The success or failure of the electric vehicles rests firmly on the battery pack.

Thus far, the penetration of electric vehicles in India has been largely limited to the small odd-sized Reva cars, which were almost exclusively built using the nearly 200-year-old-lead acid battery technology. However, the main issue is that lead acid batteries are bulky and as a result, with a reasonably sized pack, these cars are limited to driving ranges of 25-50 km per charge. Even for the shortest of daily commutes, this driving range is crippling and there is a pressing need for better batteries.

The last few decades have seen the development of a host of different technologies but Li-ion battery has emerged as the battery of choice, especially for the electronics industry. Lightweight and reasonable durability among a host of features have made it standout among its competitors.
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