Electric buses on Ahmedabad BRTS route from January 2019; Flash charging buses also on cards

By Japan K Pathak

Ahmedabad: The city of Ahmedabad will see operations of electric buses on Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) corridor in the month of January next year.

Karthik Athmanathan, Head EV & eMobiliy Solutions, Ashok Leyland Ltd speaking to media persons on the sidelines of CII Expo and Conference on e-Mobility here today in reply to a question said this.

He said, ‘we have letter of allotment for 50 electric buses for Ahmedabad. The contract needs us to start running them in the month of January next year. That shall be the first lot of buses. We are required to run all the first 40 electric buses in the next three months time from then, that’s by April 2019. We will explore technology option for last ten buses. We are working on flash charging buses. We want to prove them and we want Ahmedabad to become the second place to have this technology after Gutenberg’.

The buses will be air conditioned. They will be manufactured in Chennai plant of Ashok Leyland. The buses will run on two routes of BRTS corridor for better grid load and feasibility. Ashok Leyland will also install charging infrastructure and take care of maintenance and repair. As per the contract it will be paid for upto 240 km operation per day.

Earlier speaking in the inaugural session of CII conference, Athmanathan said, ‘there are not many buses that run globally at tropical climate. All of them running across the world are in temperate zones. They don’t know how it will work when you are pulling 18-hour of AC power.They don’t know how it will work when city’s temperature range within a single day is 20 degrees like in Delhi. They don’t know how it works when you have to design a product and not just batteries that go up to 48-52 degree temperature in summers and 4 degree temperature in winters. We have to face these problems and solve them.’

He continued and said, ‘so e-mobility service is the way we have solved it. We don’t sell product, we sell service. We tell customer that irrespective of all conditions we will keep running the buses for you and you have to pay per km. We will take care of all balance risks.’

In reference to buses being manufactured for Ahmedabad BRTS, Athmanathan said, ‘we started two years ago, so at component level, most things are tropicalized. Integrated systems are undergoing tropical viability trials. We have done trials also for heavy monsoon. Flyover validation test is going on and final quality and liability test will be done in the end of the month of September this year.

Athmanathan said, the company for its public transport service has selected five states where administrative strength and bureaucracy is good. Gujarat is among them. ‘We are going after these five states,’ he said.

When asked about cost of operations and viability of the project, he said the company will absorb all pilot costs internally. ‘We will charge for per km cost and balanced rates will be beared by us. We will own, we will run and we will maintain the buses.’