TVS Autorickshaw Goes Hybrid-Electric
Private automobile ownership in India is still reserved for the wealthy few. Most of India’s population uses mass transit or motorbikes to get around, as well as the ubiquitous "autorickshaws." Essentially, three-wheeled motor scooters with room for three passengers and a driver, autorickshaws can be found across Southeast Asia and India.
TVS Motor Company, Ltd. is turning to hybrid-electric drive technology to make help cut down on air pollution by creating a vehicle that more closely matches the needs of congested Asian streets from Delhi to Bangkok.
The company introduced its new concept autorickshaw at the 6th Auto India Expo in Delhi in January of this year. Considered a leading manufacturer of two-wheel vehicles on the subcontinent, TVS is breaking new ground by not only introducing the first charge-sustaining, parallel hybrid in India, but also utilizing composite body panels developed in collaboration with the Bangalore-based Market Development Center of Owens Corning Inc. of USA.
The company has also revamped the layout of the vehicle making it easier for passengers to get on and off, as well as more comfortable for the driver. The traditional handlebars have been replaced with a steering wheel.
The heart of the hybrid-drive is a 8 hp, four-stroke internal combustion engine. The electrical system - - develop by Solectria - - consists of a 1 kW DC motor operating in parallel mode with the engine. The vehicle operates as a battery EV up to 10 Km/h speed when the engine cuts in and takes over. The motor then act as a generator and charges three maintenance free 12V VRLA batteries. At higher speeds or gradients, the system acts in a power assist mode. During braking and coasting energy is recovered in a regenerative mode, which is shut off if the batteries reach full charge.
The top speed of the vehicle with power assist is about 65 Km/h, which is a practical speed for Indian cities. The control system works in conjunction with a human interface, which operates the pedal systems. An unusual feature of the vehicle is that charge sustaining parallel operation is achieved with a carburetor-controlled engine and not an electronic Engine Management System. This was done to keep costs low.
The system is configured for operation in crowded Asian cities, characterized by frequent stops, traffic movement in stop-go mode with extensive braking and occasional clear stretches of road. Such conditions are tailor-made for hybrid electric vehicles.
TVS carried out a number of simulation studies of different configurations using the NREL Advisor package. The system was configured to demonstrate the feasibility of making a viable charge sustaining parallel Hybrid electric small vehicle with an internal combustion engine, which does not depend on the power grid. Significant savings in fuel and reduction in emissions are expected from the vehicle.
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