Electric Commercial Vehicle Segment Prepares For Growth In Fiscal Year 2025

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Following Tata Motors, Switch Mobility and VECV are gearing up to enter the small electric commercial vehicle market. Tube Investments of India, the EV division of the Chennai-based Murugappa Group, along with Bharat Forge’s Kalyani Powertrain, are developing electric versions of heavy commercial vehicles. Additionally, Ashok Leyland has started delivering its 14T Boss Electric Truck, an intermediate and heavy-duty vehicle, to customers including Billion E-Mobility.

Over the past two years, the electric vehicle (EV) sector has been gaining momentum, with varying adoption rates across different segments. This year, it appears that the last-mile cargo mobility space is catching up in the race.

The 2-3.5 GVW category has emerged as the largest in both the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment and the entire commercial vehicle (CV) market, dominated by six players, including Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Ashok Leyland. Tata’s Ace EV, launched in May 2022, is making waves in the market as the CV maker’s first product featuring its Evogen powertrain, offering a certified range of 154 km. The vehicle supports regular and fast charging capabilities for high uptime and is powered by a 27kW (36hp) motor with 130 Nm of peak torque.

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In the realm of last-mile mobility, the Tata Ace, a former market leader, is now facing competition from at least two peers. Eicher Trucks and Buses, a division of Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV), showcased its electric SCV at the Bharat Mobility Show 2024 in February, with commercial trials set to begin this month and a commercial launch planned for Q1 2025.

Vinod Aggarwal, CEO & MD of VECV, highlighted the significance of the SCV market, which accounts for a large portion of the overall CV market. He noted that the 2-3.5 T category within the SCV segment is experiencing rapid growth, driven by factors such as e-commerce, urbanization, last-mile distribution activities, and the hub-and-spoke model concept.

VECV’s new e-SCV has been developed from scratch on a ground-up platform over 2-3 years. It will be manufactured at the company’s Bhopal plant and will be available in phases starting in the next 3-4 months, with diesel and CNG variants expected to follow. VECV has also partnered with ITC Limited, which will deploy over 100 units of the 5.5T EV Eicher Pro 2055 for mid-mile transportation from ITC warehouses to customer locations.

Industry leaders and analysts have emphasized the importance of EV adoption for last-mile mobility in the small commercial vehicles (SCV) market, which includes mini trucks and pick-ups. The pick-up category, in particular, has been recording faster growth due to a shift towards higher payload vehicles.

Switch Mobility, the EV arm of Ashok Leyland, has also entered the cargo segment electrification journey, unveiling two light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the 2-3.5T intelligent electric vehicles (IeV) series last September and rolling out the first IeV 4 from its Hosur plant. Switch aims to manufacture approximately 3,000 units per year, catering to various applications such as cargo transport, containers, garbage collection, and refrigerated vans. The IeV series is based on a modular and scalable platform capable of producing vehicles with payloads ranging from 1.2-4.5 tonnes, featuring a 330 V high voltage EV architecture in the 2-3.5 tonne CV category.

Tube Investments of India (TII), part of the Chennai-based Murugappa Group, is set to expand its presence in EVs with a series of launches in the coming months, including a three-wheeler cargo, rickshaw, tractors, and four variants of electric heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs). TII will introduce EVs through its subsidiary TI Clean Mobility Private Ltd (TICMPL).

In the large CV segment, Hinduja Group flagship company Ashok Leyland began delivery of its intermediate and heavy-duty 14T Boss Electric Truck at the Bharat Mobility event. Kalyani Powertrain, the electric mobility arm of Bharat Forge, is working on ICE to EV conversion or its ‘Repowering’ business for retrofitting existing diesel-powered CVs into EVs in Pune. The company targets to electrify medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) in the tonnage segments of 7.5 to 16, focusing on trucks and buses aged five to eight years.

According to Krishan Kohli, President and CEO of Kalyani Powertrain, the company aims to keep the cost of the repowered truck well within 2X and closer to 1.5X of its original cost. Amit Kalyani, Joint Managing Director of Kalyani Powertrain, emphasized the environmental benefits of retrofitting, which reuses 70-80% of the existing vehicle and extends its life while customizing the platform to the user’s duty cycle requirements. This approach involves lower costs and time compared to acquiring a brand-new vehicle.

The repowering business is part of Bharat Forge’s strategic investment of GBP 10 million (about INR 90.30 crore) in Tevva Motors, a British electric powertrain solutions supplier for commercial vehicles. Bharat Forge holds a minority stake in Tevva Motors, has a board seat, and access to technology. Kalyani noted that the company has created significant in-house intellectual property (IP) in various areas, including architecture, system solutions, power electronics control electronics, vehicle control units, battery management systems (BMS) packs, motors, and converting that into an entire platform.

The viability of electric trucks largely depends on affordable batteries. Analysts argue about the economic sense of EVs in this segment, suggesting that fuel cell or hydrogen-powered vehicles might be a better option.

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Aryaman Raghuvanshi
Aryaman Raghuvanshi
Aryaman Raghuvanshi is a Journalist at EFY. His passion is to explore the future of mobility, which gets him to cover latest technologies shaping the future of automobiles and EVs. But, at times he writes on broader technologies too. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aryaman-raghuvanshi-2431b7153

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