It was during their time at SRM University, Chennai (2014-2018) when Hyderabad natives Akbar Baig and Ashhar Ahmed Shaikh converted a Maruti 800 and Maruti Esteem into electric vehicles and found out that the upgrade did not affect the overall performance of the vehicles adversely. Convinced that electric vehicles represent the future, they carried forward this idea of converting already existing cars to electric power sources and established their Hyderabad-based startup—BharatMobi in 2017. So far, the startup has converted 30 vehicles.
This uber-cool water-saving device easily fits on to your tap to save up to 80% of the water that would have otherwise been used up with a normal tap! It can easily be retrofitted onto most standard taps.
Speaking to The Better India, Ashhar says their EV retrofitting or conversion technology offers the best choice to contribute for a pollution-free India.
“We have chosen this retrofitting model to address three major concerns that India is facing – air pollution, traffic congestion and lack of infrastructure for vehicle scrapping,” he says.
There is enough literature available on how fossil fuel-run vehicles emit dangerous pollutants that have an adverse impact on human and environmental health. Another well known concern is traffic congestion. According to data from the Road Transport Ministry, there were 230 million registered motor vehicles on Indian roads in 2016 with 167 vehicles per 1,000 people.
As per a report released by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last April, commuters in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more on their daily commutes than comparable counterpart cities in Asia during peak traffic hours, reports Quartz India. During these traffic congestions commuters are in direct contact with carbon emissions and nitrogen dioxide.
How does BharatMobi’s solution work?
“We have formulated standard Bharat Kits that can be retrofitted into hatchbacks and sedans. But there is a slight difference in the specifications of the kit in sedans and hatchbacks. After conversion, these hatchbacks and sedans offer a battery range of 80km per charge with air conditioning and a top speed of 80 kmph. They are powered by a 15 KW motor, a LiFePO4 battery with a well-structured battery management system, and a controller for battery and motor. If you’re going for hatchbacks, battery capacity is 12 kwh, and for sedans, it is 15 kwh but speed and range stays the same. We even offer customised conversion kits too,” he says.
“Now you can drive your own car without a single drop of fuel. With Retrofitting Kit your car becomes a pollution-free, gearless, noiseless vehicle. It can help you escape the stringent emission norms,” says Baig, speaking to Trak.in. At present, they are converting a classic Ford Mustang 1969 into electric for a client in Chennai.
The retrofitting of these vehicles with electric kits happens at the startup’s facility in Hyderabad having ICAT and ARAI certification for converting Maruti Alto, WagonR and Swift Dzire.
The cost of converting these vehicles into electric is Rs 5 lakh, where besides converting them, the startup offers a telematics system that allows monitoring of battery temperature, cell temperature and health of the vehicle from a remote computer or laptop. The conversion process takes a week. Then thee question arises why not buy a new electric car instead?
This question leads to another one, of vehicle scrapping and waste that it will generate. The Economic Survey of 2019, says, “Studies estimate that Indian auto industry will consume around 70-80 million tonnes of iron and steel by 2030 which is around 70-80 per cent of the total steel production capacity in India. As India has a fragmented process of scrap collection, nearly six-seven million tonnes per annum of steel scrap are being imported.”
According to the National Green Tribunal, 9 million vehicles will have to be scrapped by 2020. By 2030, that figure jumps to around 28 million. “We are suffering huge challenges in our vehicle scrapping infrastructure. With retrofitting, you don’t have to scrap these many vehicles and can extend their life span by converting them into electric,” says Shaikh.
In addition, Shaikh claims that converting your car into electric will save you a lot of money on maintenance. “A conventional vehicle has more than 2,000 components, but when we convert it to electric, there are hardly 20. Maintenance costs will come down drastically, and if there is a need for it our telematics will let them know. We offer a warranty of 3 years or 50,000 km.”
These vehicles can be charged on any 16 Amp socket with their on-board charging facility, while a few companies in cities like Hyderabad have opened charging stations in their parking lot. The vehicle will take 3.5-4 hours to charge fully.
“In the meantime, we are also working on other modes of transportation to convert them, particularly public transport. We can expand into vintage cars, extend their life and performance. See, overall there is a huge market in India for conversion to electric and that’s why we are also working on enhancing our battery technology and cooling technology as well,” he says.
Instead of buying a new electric vehicle, why not convert your existing one into electric? Willing to make that switch?
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(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)