Vikram EV
By Rajnish Sharma
Senior Sub-Editor, Hindustan Times, Lucknow, India

In view of the alarming rise in vehicular pollution in cities of India, the State-owned company Scooters India Ltd (SIL) has launched Vikram EV, an electric, zero pollution vehicle. Vikram EV is the first zero emission electric (battery-driven) 3-wheeler of the world and its earlier versions are plying in many cities of India and several other countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc

Former US President Clinton during his visit to Taj Mahal in India was shown this pollution-free vehicle as Mr. Berry of USAID briefed him about various zero emission products being developed in this country. Later while delivering his address on environment, President Clinton said that the most effective way of loving our children in this age of eco-awareness would be to give them an environment which is free of pollution.

This electric vehicle works on 12 batteries. It has a stylish and bold masculine bodyline which makes it different from others. The design is based on the concept "Man (read passenger) maximum, Machine minimum" that allows spacious interiors having ample space for the entire family. This three-wheeler has been successfully launched in Uttar Pradesh’s State Capital, Lucknow and New Delhi.

This 32-kg vehicle Vikram EV is driven by DC motors with power input at 72 volts from tubular plate deep discharge cycle batteries. It has no engine, gear box, radiator and no silencer, and thus it is virtually a noise-free vehicle. It also has no cylinder and piston to wear and tear or to consume tube oil. It does not require any maintenance except battery monitoring. The engine function is performed by the motor and the energy is supplied through the battery. Electricity as fuel is stored in the batteries.

Reversing the vehicle is done by changing the direction of rotation at the motor and thus no gear shifting is involved. The processing unit in an electrical vehicle is the controller which coordinates action of all vital electrical components.

Since there are no mechanical components, the transmission loss in Vikram EV is minimum because of the lower number of moving parts and no reciprocating part at all, thereby minimizing friction. The electrical vehicle can do all the functions of a vehicle fitted with IC engine with only 75 per cent of motor power.

Vikram EV has a suspension with elliptical leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers designed for India’s testing road conditions. The limitation in comparison to the IC engine is the range of operation between charges. Another minor problem facing the Vikram EV is voltage fluctuation.

The vehicle is ideal for anyone who has a run of up to 100 kilometers per day, and particularly useful as public transport as it can carry 7 passengers and a driver. The Vikram EV is very suitable for Indian conditions as the average speed of traffic is not very high and the distances covered not very long, as seen in a survey conducted by the Scooters India Ltd.

The Vikram EV is priced at approximately Rs. 1.65 lakhs without battery, and Rs. 2.25 lakhs with battery. (Rs 49 = $ 1 approx). The batteries can be leased out at a cost of about Rs 90 to Rs 95 a day, and the cost of one charge is about Rs 30. The life of the battery is four years and its replacement cost is said to be Rs 16,000. SIL has said that it would ensure that the batteries are available on lease.

A key issue in bringing down price of the vehicle was duty rationalisation, as the battery, motor and carrier were all imported and attracted high customs duty rates of 50-70%, 25-28% and 25% respectively. Efforts are now being made to develop the battery and motor indigenously. The company is also trying to get a novel deal from battery major Exide Industries Ltd that will lower the cost of the vehicles.

Environment-friendly vehicles are likely to gain acceptance gradually despite their slightly higher cost. The battery costs around Rs 60,000, (inclusive of duty) making the battery operated three-wheeler that much costlier than the petrol or diesel versions. The battery vehicles can run for 100 km before a recharge, and can reach speeds of up to 65 km per hour. The operation cost is a mere 18 paisa (Re 1= 100 paisa) per passenger-kilometre.

The company plans 3 new models of 3 wheelers by this year-end and plans to launch zero emission fuel technology-based vehicle in 2003. While two would be based on battery, one would be based on LPG and would be priced at Rs 1.25-1.60 lakh. In the fuel technology-based vehicle project the SIL is being assisted by the Ministry of Non- Conventional Energy.

In a 50-crore joint venture with an American company, Amerigon, the SIL has also designed the brand new Reva which is battery-driven and is remarkable for its zero pollution level.

Rajnish Sharma

B 1/4, River Bank Colony,
Lucknow 226001
Uttar Pradesh, India

# 91-522-229306

Vehicle Model Vikram EV
Vehicle Type Electrical Three Wheeler
Seating Capacity 7 Passenger & Driver
Wheel base 2270 mm
Wheel track 1316 mm (rear)
Length 3179 mm
Width 1480 mm
Height 1885 mm
Ground clearance 140 mm
Turning radius 3.5 mts.
Maximum Graseability 23 %
Maximum stable inclination angle 32°
Body type FRP
Frame type Welded channel steel space frame
Suspension Front trailing link Rear under slung type with semi elliptical leaf spring & hydraulic shock absorber
Tyre Size 4.5 x 10" 8 ply
Brakes Dual circuit hydraulic drum brake
No. of batteries Twelve 12 volts rechargeable
Charging time N/A
Total distance covered by single charging 70 Km.

(A Government of India Enterprise)
Post Box No. : 23, Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow-226 008
Uttar Pradesh, INDIA

Phone : 91-522-436242, 436631, 436962, 436750
436900, 436349, 436053
Fax : 91-522-436190