It’s one of the most exciting design challenges of our time. It’s a very rare opportunity to reinvent a common object. Even more difficult is to decide not only what kind of vehicle needs to be reinvented but also the size of that vehicle? Which market sector should these EV companies decide to cater to? Cars? Bikes? Trikes?
The possibilities of each sector are immense and but at the same time it is difficult to do all at once. And also due to the time and competition constraint it is necessary to specialize in one sector and then later to enter other sectors.One of the major problem of an electric vehicle is that its performance deteriorate as the carrying capacity increases. So if a car is carrying 2 passengers and travels 100km then the same car carrying 4 passengers will travel…. say… only 80 km, and if the number of passengers increases to six then most probably the car will only be able to travel 50 Km. While with a petrol car the only effect will be reduced mileage.
So most of the EV manufacturers during desicion making at the design meetings decide to stick to the most effective medium – the 2 Seater Small car platform. But then the easy form factor becomes a big bottleneck… the advantages of relative ease of production of the car becomes a disadvantages to sell the car…reasons like:
Each of the above is very unattractive for a person who is looking for a “normal car” and the above specs fit a four wheel bike with reduced range.
Basically once you forget the price of the fuel (battery or price of petrol) or imagine both were equally cheap would the qualities of the EV appeal to you? Ok may be the Tesla Roadster would appeal to everybody even me (I said other than the price).So I guess they try to keep the size of the car small.The price of battery will fluctuate depending upon the battery technology that comes in. So there is not much scope on working on the price of the battery so that leaves us with reducing the price of building the car. The Reva Plant has already used a lot of innovation to keep the cost low. But there is always room.
I guess it also makes sense to add high quality Leather seats, Bose sound system, Led lighting inside and outside styling, below the car, some kind of external speakers that will make high rev engine sounds just for effect. All these could be offered as an option.
Other than that I have some crazy suggestions:
I have always said that the electric car has to be reinvented right from the first successful model the Ford Model T. Maybe each college a group of auto engineering students can be set the challenge of making each part of the car function better at a cheaper cost and any major improvements could be paid a hefty price like Rs 1 Lakh to 10 Lakhs etc. Improvements has to be on radical issues like:
For instance, one company known as Renovo have put to use monocoque construction techniques to create competition-quality road, race, mountain, and triathlon frames. They boast lightweight, and frames that will likely outlast other materials.
What was so magical about the Wooden wheels that led their use for a thousand years?
These are all aspects that have to be studied with care… and not ignored just because its ancient…. with the advances in shock absorbers and balancing I am sure there could be some use for the wider wooden wheels…with or without rubber lining!
http://www.calimerswheelshop.com/Have we taken into consideration of the properties of wood?:
How does a wood rim resist bending forces? After all, it’s a solid that, according to the previous evidence, makes an arguably inefficient structure. Wood is much lighter than metals or composites, and this low density is what it leverages as a wheel rim.
This is a huge difference, so wood is going to make a very different rim.
So, given more spoke support, what kind of wheel does this solid but very light material make? First, the lower spoke tensions that wood prefers allow it to move around more. This additional degree of motion allows it to absorb shock, to attenuate the vibrations of the road; the same as a lower pressure tire. But the actual deflection of a wood rim during riding is tiny, so the bicycle’s quickness is not impaired. What seems to disappear are the higher frequency vibrations of pavement that can tire the body over time and make joints ache. An aluminum rim, built to lower tension, would also move around. Unfortunately, aluminum does not absorb energy to the degree of other materials like steel, wood or composites. So the comfort benefit would be small.
In addition to shock absorption, wood is harder to dent. Its low density means that a pot hole will create only local damage: a nick rather than a generalized dent that might interfere with braking. So, wood rims are legendary for resisting dents; a valuable asset in a world of poorly paved roads. One further advantage is the heat resistance of wood. Rim braking dumps large amounts of heat into the brake caliper and rim, in order to slow the vehicle. Aluminum rims eagerly accept this heat which, when excessive, can melt the tire or tire cement, causing failures. Wood rims refuse to accept this heat preferring, instead, to burn superficially at their surface. A wood rim pushed to braking extremes will create a barely detectable burning odor, but its tires remain cool.
Why are the front wheels smaller than the rear wheels on wagons? As the diameter of the wheel increases, the draft size of the animal needed to pull the vehicle decreases, hence making it easier on the horses, mules, and oxen to pull the wagons and carriages. So, a wagon with 48″ wheels will pull easier than a wagon with 24″ wheels. Now for the second part of the answer; if all wagons had 48″ wheels front and rear, we would have an engineering conflict. When we try to steer the wagon, the front wheel would strike the body and reduce the turning radius. Also, the assembly of the fifth wheel would lift the body high in the front. So, to overcome this conflict, we lower the height of the front wheel just enough to level the wagon and increase the turning radius. The results are a maneuverable, easy pulling vehicle. (Source). Nothing stops similar principles being used in Automobiles!
Above all the dilemma for all the Automobile manufacturer has always been should they make an
electric car or an electric bike?
Which should come first? The hen or the egg?Let me for a brief moment divide the world into markets as I see it. :
SEAN = South East Asian Countrties = Philippines, Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia,
I wouldnt call a flat graph chart as an excellent sales recovery chart…lol but Experts prefer to call it so… they predict “Europe’s battered car market is set to grow in 2014 after its six-year slump” but I would say Europe as a whole is moving away from petrol based vehicle and is embracing clean 2-wheelers (cycles or electric) and Electric cars.
SEAN & IPBNS countries
This region can be considered a major Bike Market more than a car market. These can be called as the developing countries. Among them bike production and sales are dominated in India & China. India generally creating better quality bikes than China. These are also countries other than Middle East that have higher temperatures and humidity as they are nearer to the Equator. These conditions favour the electric bikes & Lead Acid Battery more than cars & Li-Ion Battery. Bikes require smaller battery and even LA Batteries can be removed and carried by hand indoors not only to charge but also to avoid the heat outdoors. Most of the potential customers in these countries find the price of Mahindra e2o electric car too expensive and ranging in the luxury car segment. To expect EV Cars (5 Lakh and above) to sell heavily in this sector is a little optimistic… unless of course the cost of petrol increases sharply! EV Car sales can only be targeted to be bought by the richer part of the population of these countries.
Considering the above we can safely say on a whole that the Car market is shrinking while the bike market is expanding.
Bikes Vs Cars
In terms of numbers produced, bikes have pulled clear of cars by some distance since WWII. By 1950, world bike production stood at around 11 million, and car production at about 8 million. Since then, bikes have gained a huge margin, with more than 130 million now produced annually compared to roughly 52 million cars.Even if you deduct the 25 million or so electric bike sales from the annual figures, that’s still a clear 2:1 ratio in favour of bikes.The two-wheeler market in India is quite big in volume. But at over 10 million units per annum, India’s motorcycle market is over three times the size of scooters.
What about Cycles? Are not Bicycles a completely different mode of transport? Yes if you think “Petrol” and NO if you think “Electric”. Because the ease of use and similarity is almost the same.
Car sales have shrunk world over due to the rising price of Petrol. Maybe if the prices of petrol decrease the sales might pick up but to date price of Petrol has never fallen in history will it in future?The platform of Electric Trike can be enhanced with a little bit of elongating the bike adding extra seat and it already has extra space to double up as battery holding space. It also have serious luggage space.Trike is an excellent platform for young & old…it has excellent stability and tons of luggage space too!
When we talk about the EV bikes we always get drawn to what China had to dish out to the world in the name of EV. Due to this the whole 2 wheeler platform has been looked down as inferior and low profit. And many people followed the Chinese scooter style bikes. But if a good quality & powerful electric pulsar like trike can be built like in the below photo and priced around Rs 65,000 to Rs 90,000 then there is now doubt it will be a success the world over.
Another problem with Electric Bikes is their heavy batteries. These batteries make them unstable and easy to fall so the best way out is to design the bike as a trike (3-wheel bike) that can carry 400kgs (rider, passenger, luggage and 50 to 100kgs of batteries.
Personally I feel that a company that would not develop an electric Bike market has let the EV revolution pass it by. Bikes are more serious than cars in the way it changes peoples lives. Bikes touches the layman… comman man.. the poor guy who has no where to park his vehicle… that guy who has to park his motorcycle/scooter inside his house next to the TV. These are the small people who have to travel miles and miles to support not only their family but also their start up business. All the business guys I have met in my life have used a 2 wheeler during the early stages of the business when they were starting out and struggling…and the frugal milage of a Motorcycle and its smooth handling of the rough road, speedbreakers and potholes…. has always empowered them.
It would be great if some company would seriously consider making a power electric motor cycle not like the expensive cruiser bikes but at least like a 3-wheel Bajaj Pulsar or 3-wheel Hero Honda Hunk.Cause with the going rate for Li-Ion batteries it will be a few more years for the prices to come down and at the present prices it is only the richer guys who can own electric cars. Electric cars do not make much sense to richer guys. Why? How does it really matter to a rich guy if he is able to travel 100 km at Rs 5?But it would matter a great deal, great, great deal to a startup business man, or to that clerk, or to that milkman or to that newspaper delivery boy and a million such people around the world who can travel 100km at only Rs 5? In 10 yrs time the same vehicle will be using much improved battery technology to travel around 600 kms on single charge. This would make travel almost free. And if any company can do it in the world at a very frugal cost, great quality and with a really powerful bike I have no doubt that the combination of Chetan Maini & Mahindra Reva can do it.
Thus I will rest my case by saying that the development of a good quality and economical electric bike is very important.