Gadkari’s “pilot project” on 15 year old Technology.

One fine day Mr Gadkari, Indian Transport minister woke up from his slumber in August 2015 and decided that running electric buses would be cost effective and set about with the Indian Space Research Organization to deploy 15 buses on a pilot project. Possibly he believes that electric vehicles are rocket science and after the Agni Missile Programme, Moon Mission, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) , Mars Orbiter Mission the mission of making an electric Bus for the people of India should be the next biggest task assigned to India’s biggest Organization.

Now a Pilot project is a small scale preliminary study conducted in order to evaluate feasibility, time, cost, adverse events, and statistical variability in an attempt to study the design and its function prior to implementation of the Technology.

The problem is that the technology in question is 15 years old and…

there has been commercial production of electric cars based on this technology in India since 2001 thanks to a pioneer called Chetan Maini.. This was when the World thought that electric cars were NOT feasible… and this was before Tesla company was even born (Tesla was born in year 2003).

Chetan is one of the world’s biggest icons in Electric Car research and startup… mainly because he dreamed, visualized, created and successfully sold his electric car when the only kind of battery available was Lead-Acid and petrol was just Rs 28 Per litre. Back then Chetan had the record of highest selling electric car in the world G-Wiz (Reva-i).. (although people might say as the Reva-i car weighs less than 500kg it cannot be considered a car). Around that time the Indian Globalization was taking off and thus prehaps Maini thought or feared that he HAD TO SCALE UP or be oblitrated by electric car companies from US and Europe. Then he went about scouting for Venture Capitalist or investors and he found GM and Mahindra… and finally gave it all away to Mahindra. This whole process took away 10 years of his race… especially when better battery technology was becoming available… On hind sight we at PlugInCaroo think that he could not have done any worse than the numbers Mahindra is selling right now which is 15yrs later and that too with a better battery pack & car technology…. HE SHOULD HAVE CONTINUED AS A BOOTSTRAPPED COMPANY…

Chetan feels that all the Govt needed to do was to invite Tenders to make 10 percent of our transport electric… that is all they have to do to trigger it

Maini says, “Look at Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Why can’t that link to solar? Buses have large tops and they can get 10-20 percent energy from solar. School buses are covered and parked for eight hours and run barely 1 or 2 hour per day; they can get 30-40 percent of their energy from solar.”… we at PlugInCaroo also feel that School Buses with Solar roof would not need to “plug-in” to recharge as the roof area is sufficient to charge the bus.

What we at PlugInCaroo doesn’t understand is that in spite of 2,00,000 electric rickshaws that move around in Delhi and many more all over India…why does our Transport Minister again want to test a vehicle which doesn’t need ANY fuel to run?

Does he think the bus will not be able to run the said distance?

Does he think the bus will not be able to climb a incline, slope or hill?

Does he think the bus ride will be inferior to the existing, bone-jarring diesel bus ride?

Probably the Mr Gadkari doesn’t know that Delhi was one of the pioneering cities not only with the Electric Rickshaw but Delhi had actually deployed electric buses in co-operation with BHEL in year 2010, but since no orders came and BHEL was not exactly a Bus making company and it had to buy chassis from other companies the whole process got rolled back, and since then, Delhi moved on to CNG and somewhere along the road, electric buses got left behind.” What Gadkari is doing now with ISRO is the same thing as ISRO is not a bus manufacturing company. If our Transport Minister really wanted to make it a success he would have requested Bus (chassis) building companies like Tata or Ashok Leyland (who have already tested and have Electric Bus technology) to implement it.

Is he oblivious to the fact that India has been testing such buses on so called “pilot projects” from 2010 over various corridors and sectors. After a few months these projects close down or are paid to close down.

2010: Such pilot projects have been going on since 2010 with BHEL making a  Bus that cost around RS 11,00,000 and operating cost around Rs 0.55 per passenger per km. But had to wind up the projects as they did not get big confirm orders.

2012 Ashok Leyland planed Electric Optare buses:

2013 – Bangalore has one bus project running too:

2014: Mahindra running Taj Agra corridor:

It is nothing but corruption, bureaucracy and vested interest who wind down such projects. Prime example is Mr Shiva Ayyadurai an inventor and entrepreneur in US, who came to India to develop India… this guy was booted out of CSIR and our “technologically-illiterate” ministers say he was being paid a salary of Rs 60,000 and he wanted a salary of Rs 100,000 (US $ 1,500)… bloody who earns a pathetic $ 1000 in US? it is not eve avarage American salary… and here you are talking to a guy who is almost in the league of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Google founder Larry Page..

The problem with these “pilot projects” are similar. Technically the Government is supporting the “EV cause” by doing these projects but in effect it is doing nothing as these projects are not viable as these projects are done by a company that doesn’t specialize in making bus nor is ISRO being given a firm order of 100,000 buses of a certain grade or quality or specification. Nor is there any open invitation for Tender from local companies… so where is there any incentive for the Indian companies who are already Making-In-India??? This is just an excuse to say “we did our testing work on EV and it is not feasible“. Its not feasible because there is no orders for the company. Its just like asking auto rickshaw maker Bajaj to make petrol buses on pilot projects…

Also in Electric Rickshaws there is no particular law or direction for its registration and operation in India. Electric Rickshaws are allowed to run under the Motor vehicles act of low speed vehicles not requiring license & permit, but the traffic police can stop them under some pretext or another.

Thus the bottom line is as long as corruption exists start-up companies and innovation is reduced to “juggad” where the solution exists but not in a proper way…

Till the day we have a government who is not afraid of local anti-corruption bureaus and have independent CBI and Lokpal… India will have to depend upon foreign companies to even make small things like needles and pins. Because if we once were the leader in Electric Cars and after 15years still have not been able to incorporate Electric Vehicles in even 10% of mainstream transport system while the developed world has successfully incorporated electric vehicles (because of Motor rules implemented by Government) then we are SURELY LIVING IN DARK AGES and are being ruled by corruption and nepotism… and the world is passing us by.

If he really is concerned about saving India’s foreign exchange and not worried about the falling profits of MNCs like IOC, ONGC and Reliance then he should:

  1. Call a tender for  –  Aerodynamically shaped,  non-Air conditioned Electric Bus with aluminum chassis with solar pannel on roof and all 4 sides (esthetically designed) running on either lead acid batteries or lithium-batteries or both tendered separately.
  2. These buses once out of production should be swapped one at a time with ALL existing School buses and GOVT transport buses as a start and then also non-ac buses of all make, model and kind.

This could save Billions of dollars for India!…


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