How to Make It Easier to Get Into the Electric Vehicle Business
Everyone agrees that there is the beginnings of a revolution brewing in the automobile industry, with massive changes expected in terms of vehicle usage, ownership and the types of automobiles, as well as the technology within. And the advent of the EV (electric vehicle) has created the likes of Tesla, the darling of the stock market, venture capitalists and investors, as much as that of the tree-hugging green brigade. 
 
Despite the sky-high valuation of Tesla—significantly more than General Motors or Ford—the carmaker had raised a total of $19.9 billion, and yet until 2018, had $9 billion of negative cash flow, supporting the notion that you needed very deep pockets to be able to get into the EV marketplace. Yet, when Sony shocked crowds at the consumer electronics show (CES) 2020 in Las Vegas earlier this year with an electric, autonomous car, the Vision-S, experts were all excited by the possibility that the car signalled how facile it was to get into the automotive field today.  
 
Electric motors, inverters and battery packs—the three main aggregates of the EV—are available off-the-shelf, so it should be easy, in theory, to put together an electric car. Yet, getting them all to interact with each other and the other mechanical elements of an automobile at their efficient best is not that obvious. That is where German automotive component giant Bosch and Salzburg-based Benteler International come in. Between them, they have developed a modular EV platform, which provides car manufacturers and potential EV ventures to get into the EV space with the minimal of developmental costs and time. 
 
To complete the product development process, famed Italian design house Pininfarina has joined hands with them to provide design knowhow for the styling and the engineering of the body and packaging of the vehicle. What the three together are proposing is a new modular, scalable and tailor-made e-mobility product plan, developed together with future clients. To that, Pininfarina’s CEO Silvio Angori would like to add, “Clients can also count on an unparalleled benefit: a unique style signed by legendary design house Pininfarina.”
 
“Thanks to this strategic collaboration,” explains Angori, “we, as in Bosch, Benteler and Pininfarina, can offer car manufacturers fast prototyping as well as complete vehicle and product development services up to start of production. A proven rolling chassis solution provides a predefined design, which is fully functional and immediately applicable for the development of electric vehicles. This saves the customer time and money, making them speed up their time-to-market even more.”
 
Giuseppe Bonollo, senior vice president sales & marketing for Pininfarina, added, “It is possible for us to have running prototypes ready in six to twelve months. We believe it is also feasible to imagine the time from the start of a project to start of production (SOP) condensed to just 30 months.” 
 
What are the limitations defined by the chassis and the powertrain developed between Bosch and Benteler? “The prototype wheelbase is 3000mm, and this is scalable up or down by 150mm,” explains Bonollo. Which means that it would be possible to develop vehicles with wheelbases from 2.85 metres to 3.13 metres, thereby catering to the segments from C to E (from a big hatchback like a Volkswagen Golf to a Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV).        
 
The base version of the chassis features a motor up front, driving the front wheels, with a power output of 150kW, which is around 200bhp. It is possible to add a motor on the rear axle too, of a similar output, to take peak output to 300kW, or 400bhp combined, in an all-wheel-drive configuration. “Thus it is possible to develop everything from a mid-size sedan, all the way up to a seven-seater SUV or minivan,” explains Angori. 
 
“Given our 90 years of car design activities, we have the best abilities in the fields of style and top-hat engineering for an optimized link to the car body,” points out Angori. “Car manufacturers are increasingly seeking pre-validated system solutions, which offer an easy and reliable way to build new electric vehicles. This is even truer in the world of start-ups, especially those with semi-premium and premium positioning.”
 
Angori also confirms that Pininfarina can develop the body in whatever material the client may prefer – steel, aluminium, or a combination of steel and aluminium, even composite – so that volume viability is addressed as well. It would be interesting to see whether Mahindra & Mahindra would be one of the first clients for this concept, given that sister company Mahindra Tech owns Pininfarina. Or, whether one of the many Indian start-ups would go a-visiting Pininfarina soon. 
 
(Author of several automotive books, founder editor of many leading auto mags, Gautam Sen has also consulted with most of the Indian auto majors. He has also worked with several leading car designers such as Gérard Godfroy, Tom Tjaarda and Marcello Gandini, among others.)
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    IL&FS: NCLAT okays pro-rata distribution of proceeds
    In a setback to a few secured creditors of the crisis-ridden IL&FS Group, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Thursday accepted the suggestion of pro-rata distribution of the remainder sales proceeds after the creditors are paid under Section 53 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
     
    In January, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had submitted a revised framework for distribution of the financial bid amounts/termination amount and settlement amounts for all set of creditors.
     
    As per the resolution, the resolution process costs would be recovered first and then up to the liquidation value to the creditors in accordance with the waterfall mechanism under Section 53 of the IBC.
     
    The excess amount was proposed to be distributed on a pro-rata basis to each class of creditors of the relevant group company.
     
    Few financial creditors raised objections to the resolution process and the pro-rata distribution of the excess amount.
     
    The two-judge bench headed by the NCLAT Chairman S.J. Mukhopadhaya said: "While we reject the objections raised by some of the creditors, as noticed above, we accept the suggestion of pro-rata distribution as suggested by the Union of India and the procedure as suggested by it for the purpose of completing resolution process."
     
    The appellate authority observed, "it cannot be said that 'Shareholders' including the Life Insurance Corporation, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust, Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited, Central Bank of India, State Bank of India, UTI-Unit Linked Insurance Plan etc. should not be paid by following the procedure under Section 53 of the I&B Code."
     
    It noted that denying payment to them would be against the public interest as the money invested by purchasing shares by Life Insurance Corporation of India, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust, Central Bank of India and SBI are public money, who are the shareholders.
     
    Further, the bench also directed the government and the IL&FS board to conclude resolution of all the IL&FS entities "preferably" within 90 days. "The development should be brought to the notice of this appellate tribunal every month," said the judgement.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Auto Registrations in February Show Increase, Two-wheeler Dealers Still Reeling Under BS IV Stock
    While the auto registration data shows an increase during February 2020, inventory level of Bharat stage (BS) IV stock with dealers, especially with dealers of two-wheelers, remains a serious concern, says the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA). 
     
    In a release, the apex body of automobile retail industry in India says that despite the growth, overall retail sales were much below its expectations as there was no pre-buying of BS-IV stocks. Many customers held on to their purchase decision expecting sweeter deals towards end of March, it added.
     
    On the inventory front, two-wheeler inventory of BS-IV vehicles remains a very serious concern, FADA says, adding, "With the Supreme Court not considering our application for sale extension for BS-IV, FADA seriously urges our two-wheeler original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to handhold the dealers for 100% liquidation of their BS-IV stocks."
     
    FADA survey reveals a very high number of dealers of two-wheelers will not be able to fully liquidate their BS-IV inventory and expressed inadequate support from their OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) for 100% liquidation of this stock.
     
     
    "With regards to inventory in passenger vehicle (PV) and commercial vehicle (CV), the overall inventory is at a reasonable level, but the challenge remains in slow moving, non-popular models as dealers look for adequate OEM support for liquidation of the same in the month of March. FADA has already advocated for return of unsold BSIV stocks and will be pursuing this for its members, if the need arises, as many dealers will be unable to sustain such losses," the Association says.
     
    During February, auto registrations ended in green as transitionary demand crawled in with 31 March 2020 as sunset date for BS-IV vehicles. Overall vehicle registrations during the month inched 2.60%. While two-wheelers registrations were up by 1.52%, three-wheelers jumped by 20.7%, CV by 13% and tractors by 13.52% respectively. Only PV was down by 1.17%.
     
     
    According to Ashish Harshraj Kale, president of FADA, February turned positive for retail sales for most of the segment as the entire auto eco system, especially auto dealers, focussed on liquidation of their BS-IV Stocks. "Rural sales contributed for retail sales turning green with tractors also being in double digit growth for second month in a row," he added.
     
    FADA also expressed concern over non-availability of adequate finance from lenders for buying BS IV vehicles. It says, "With Banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) getting into a cautious mode with regards to financing BS-IV stocks and many regional transport offices (RTOs) across the country prescribing their own cut off dates for permanent registration, retail sales of 100% of dealer inventory of BS-IV stocks continue to be a challenge."
     
    "BS-VI vehicles supply is also affected due to the corona virus situation in China and the existing difficult transition had become more difficult for our members due to unexpected things. Due to all this, the outlook for March is negative," FADA added.
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