- Category: Indian News
- Published on Friday, 28 October 2011 09:37
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 10592
Firewood cooked pizzas are being delivered by electric bikes in Auroville near Pondicherry.It opens possibilities for employing alternative transportation modes in food delivery businesses in Indian towns and cities.
Tanto pizzeria on the Auroville main road is a happening place. Its relaxed ambience (very Italian) and fine food make it popular with the residents of the international community of Auroville and scores of visitors and guests. People of all sorts congregate at the Tanto to eat, talk and chill.
Early this summer we (EVFuture) had a visit from Tanto's genial and voluble (markedly Italian again) head Daniel Emdin - gifted chef, one time art dealer and ardent supporter of new and environment friendly technologies. He wanted us to build an electric pizza delivery bike for Tanto . We told him that the EVFuture Mark I,our customised hand made electric bike, would take time to make and cost a bit of of money. He was not in the least bit fazed and asked, instead, how much advance would we need to begin?
The Tanto order provided EVFuture with an opportunity to display the versatility of the Mark I, capable of hauling pizzas (and other commodities) as easily as it does people.
The Tanto E-Bike (as we call it) is powered by a 1000 watts rear mounted hub motor. Its sturdy suspensions (so that your pizza does not slosh and smash due to bad roads!) are a combination of a TVS type 16 (for the back) and a Bajaj fork type for the front. Its powerhouse consists of four lead acid batteries (12V, 32amps) that can give a distance of 50 kms on a full charge at a maximum speed of 50 Kms. We mounted a special battery management monitor on the handlebar to notify the rider of battery performance and power status.The vehicle had our customised all steel frame for stability and smoothness and was painted in tri colors – red,green and white – just as Daniel wanted. The back seat was cut and modified to hold a bright green fibre pizza carrier box with TANTO emblazoned boldly at the back.Tanto,we learned to our delight, means plenitude in Italian.
The Tanto E-Bike was delivered in mid september and cost a total of Rs.75,000. It has already become a familiar sight on the roads in an around Auroville. Off duty hours see it charging up, plugged into the public electric vehicle charging station in the Tanto's parking lot. What is different about your pizza being delivered by someone who comes riding an electric bike, you may ask? Your genuine firewood Italian formula pizza will be the same we can assure you. Only you will not know that it has arrived till you hear your doorbell ring. Neither will you hear the delivery boy drive away after. A ghost may have come to deliver your pizza and gone for all you know. Its a super silent operation,this pizza delivery business on an electric bike! Its also emission free. And its the future.
Seeing the success of our electric pizza delivery bike for Tanto makes us think about the vast potential it holds for a transportation alternative for inner city take aways and food delivery businesses in India - one that is safe, silent, quick and non polluting. It will soon also become an economic proposition once storage technologies (batteries) mature and a public charging infrastructure gets set. While firewood pizzas will always continue to have their appeal,perhaps we can go electric when it comes to their delivery?
EVFuture is open to consulting for and building electrically powered two and three wheelers for small businesses, customised to meet specific requirements.
# Look out for our exclusive feature on the EVFuture Mark I - India's most advanced and versatile electric bike – on this site soon.
- Category: World News
- Published on Saturday, 15 October 2011 10:33
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 10755
Innovations that drive change need visionaries with long term views over short term gains!
The age of the blue car has arrived. The just launched 'Autolib' electric car sharing/rental program in France is an instance of how a combination of official support, novel entrepreneurial schemes and proactive citizens participation can obliterate the barriers to accepting new technologies and mindsets.
Inspired by the success of 'Velib' ,the rent-a-bicycle program that was initiated in 2007 (with the 20,000 bicycles in its pool doing millions of rented trips each year), 'Autolib' is its automobile equivalent. But it is not just another car renting program. Its uniqueness lies in two factors : a) the cars are 'blue' meaning they are based on clean technologies like electric /fuel cell and b) they are part of a pool that can be shared/ rented through an annual membership.
'Autolib' is the offspring of a rare phenomenon - a merger between visionary city governance and enlightened enterprise. Bertrand Deloe,the socialist mayor of Paris and Vincent Bollore,a billionaire investor in clean technologies, decided to partner a program that would improve the city's air quality through introducing new forms of urban mobility for short commutes. The electric car was the answer to this. However, realising that electric car technologies are yet to mature and enter the pubic domain to become ubiquitous , Autolib's promoters thought in terms of creating a public fleet of electric vehicles that could be rented. The program's uniqueness lies in the fact that this scheme can have a disruptive effect upon entrenched habits of auto use and types. And it is precisely the stage entry of such disruptions (disguised as novelties) that will pave the road eventually for the acceptance of new forms of transportation based on emerging technologies that are cleaner,non fossil fuel based,silent and quick. Over time, with increased use and acceptance, they will become provably economic too.
Autolib's economics is a slightly convoluted one and does not make sense except to its backer,Vincent Bollore,who prefers to take the long view on this. The project is going to cost him around 200 million Euros with no visible break-even point in the near future. But Vincent is hoping to foster more than just a new economic model here. He is hoping to kick start (through Autolib) a new revolution in urban transportation. The ultimate payoff for him and the city of Paris will be a mass transition to electric and other forms of clean mobility.
Autolib has a fleet strength of 66 blue cars in this first (pilot) phase that was officially commissioned on the 9th of October. The cars are made by Pininfarina of Italy (who beat out Renault and Smart for the contract) who will eventually supply 3000 of these zero emission electric vehicles to the Autolib pool. The super mini electric cars are built to go a distance of 250 Kms on a single charge and is capable of a top speed of 130 Kms. Part of Autolib's ambitious and far sighted program (and package) is to provide 1000 public electric charging stations in Paris and its surroundings for these blue cars ( and other EVs) by the end of 2012. The blue car features sophisticated electronics (but still remains simple to drive) and claims some leaps in (energy use) technology. The car is a show case (and testing lab) for regenerative braking systems that ensure efficient energy recycling and storage in its advanced lithium -metal- polymer batteries.
Apart from attempting to seed an 'electric vehicle revolution' upon the streets of Paris (and later France), the proposed business model is a novel one even if it awaits testing. Its uniqueness is based upon what Vincent and other trend watchers see as certain 'economic tangibles' .These rest on the probability that many Parisians will opt for short term renting of blue cars for intra city commutes over the stress of owning a conventional car with all the attendant problems of its care, taxes, insurance, city parking and, of course, constantly rising gasoline prices.
If it works ( as both promoter Vincent and mayor Bertrand hope ) then Autolib can be a pointer of things to come. Apart from inspiring other nations (particularly the developing economies of India and China) to replicate Autolib in their own inner- city contexts, it will be a shining example of how shared transportation systems (both public and private) based on clean technologies (electric,fuel cell etc) can help the transition to a whole new transportation paradigm; one that we sorely need in the face of growing pollution and the visible end of the fossil fuel curve.
- Category: World News
- Published on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 10:58
- Written by Tejas Joseph
- Hits: 12734
Innovative courses and competitions are serving to attract and nurture a new generation of automotive vehicle engineers who can 'think electric'.
There is alarm in the halls of engineering and technical institutions. While industry and government have taken a leap of faith in the electric direction,the world of formal academia don't seem to be equally electrified by this radical development. If estimates are right - that by 2025 a large percentage of transportation on our roads the world over will be electric - then the big question is, “ who will build them”?
Colleges currently offering high end technical courses in automotive engineering and design have not as yet anticipated this looming development. They are still in the IC era and yet to wake up to the need to develop and include courses on electric vehicles in their complete spectrum, from design to motive power and charging stations. Its a whole new world of engineering - knowledge,challenges and rewards - waiting out there for a brave new 'electric generation'.
“EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future”, is a three-year collegiate engineering program designed as a competition. Its the first of its kind with an embedded mission to educate the next generation of automotive engineers in the essentials of electric vehicle engineering through offering an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience. The competition challenges 16 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.
Established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), EcoCAR 2 builds upon a successful 23-year history of DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC). It illustrates the power of public/private partnerships in providing invaluable experience and training to promising, young minds entering the North American job market.
EcoCAR 2 requires students to explore a variety of power train solutions focusing on EV drive technology. They will utilize a Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, as the integration platform for their advanced vehicle design.During the three-year program EcoCAR 2 teams will follow a real-world Vehicle Development Process (VDP) modeled after GM's VDP. The VDP serves as a road map for the engineering process of designing, building and refining their advanced technology vehicles. Following a VDP will give the teams an opportunity to improve their vehicles' efficiency while retaining consumer satisfaction, performance and safety.
The technological goals of the programme are to construct and demonstrate vehicles and power trains that offer the following advantages over production gasoline vehicles.
• Reduce petroleum energy consumption on the basis of a total fuel cycle analysis
• Reduce fuel consumption
• Reduce net (well to wheel) greenhouse gas emissions
• Reduce criteria tailpipe emissions
• Win/maintain customer acceptability in the areas of vehicle performance, economy, utility, and safety.
Sparking an electrical awakening!
Eco Car2 is a challenging but laudable model that has the power to stimulate worldwide replication. Are India and China listening?. Both these Asian giants have the human resources and wherewithal to develop similar academic models to spark and groom an upcoming generation in the nuances and nuts and bolts of electric mobility in a wide ranging arc of forms and applications. What is lacking perhaps is political will and foresight!