Story by: Bhargav TS & Sricharan R

The Chennai-based Lucas TVS Ltd, India’s leading automotive electrical equipment manufacturer and a member of the TVS Group, is coming up with a new traction motor for electric vehicles. “The traction motor is our first step towards the new things that are happening in India. The motors will be of 1 kWh, 3 kWh and 5 kWh and will be able to power, e-rickshaw and e-autos. This is the area we think the EVs will come first,” Aravind Balaji, Joint Managing Director, Lucas TVS, told Auto Components India.

Lucas TVS supplies to over 90% of automotive manufacturers in India and exports to North America and Europe. It started with starters, dynamos and distributor products, and over the years, commenced providing complete system solutions for auto electricals, specialised motors for air compressors, stop-start systems, engine cooling modules, ignition products, diesel fuel injection systems etc.

Lucas TVS has established R&D and Product Proving and Reliability testing facilities, which have been recognised by the Department of Science and Technology of Government of India. “We will focus on electrical and electronic products. We will expand in the area we are growing well,” he added.

About the traction motors, D Baburaj, Senior General Manager- Marketing, Lucas TVS said, “The whole world is going towards electric motors and we want to be present in that. To start with, we are concentrating on e-rickshaws and e-autos. To be more precise, we are starting with e-rickshaws in the NCR where they are predominantly used. We are working with 3 selected customers and we will supply the traction motors to them in a couple of months.”

The new motors are Brush Less DC (BLDC) motors and they will be manufactured in our Pondicherry facility. The output of the motor will be around 1 kWh to a maximum of 1.7 kWh. For the e-autos, we have developed the motor and will do the validation with a renowned customer in 3-4 months. It will be of 3 kWh output. We have been supplying the BLDC motors for white goods applications like refrigerators and compressors,” he added.

A similar technology has also been developed for two-and three-wheelers which is also in the development stage. The motors will be out for validation in 6-8 months. The BLDC motors have longer life and since they are permanent magnet motors, have higher torque. Being the latest technology, the whole automotive industry is looking at them and a few are using them for their engine cooling fans on a trial basis.

About the regulations in the EV segment, Baburaj said, “Regulations are only for the full unit and there is no specific regulation for our product. Our company and the group follow a standard that is required to meet the regulations. We treat this new motor as an automobile motor and follow all specs applicable. That is why the quality of the product is much better than the Chinese motors.”

Lucas TVS is ready for the EVs and also the IC engines. “With the EV there will be some disruptions in the short term. In the long-term it will be an opportunity for us. We are looking at it in a positive way. With the upcoming norms, changes will be mostly in creating more efficiency and we are doing that. Start/stop, change of starter motor are also required and we are working on them. These will also comply with the CAFE norms that will come after the BSVI. For passenger cars and commercial vehicles, we are working on high vision seat alternators, smart motors and on electronics controllers and sensors,” Balaji said.

Adding to his points, Baburaj said, other than the gear reduction starter and high-efficiency alternator, they are also looking for better alternators. The company is looking for a combined starter generator system and has developed in both the 12 volt and 48 volt system. The 12 volt system is being used in a few hybrids now. With the BS VI, people will slowly shift to the 48 volt, he said.

With the regenerative braking, whatever energy is lost is being recovered. The new system is in the final stages of validation. When people start using it, we will be ready to supply that. A starter will be there in the vehicle and it will be used in the cold conditions. The new system will also be in the vehicle and will be used only when the vehicle is stopped, for example in a signal. The driver need not use the starter motor to start the engine again. They can just start the vehicle by pressing the pedal. These can be seen in the hybrids,” Baburaj said.

Another major trend that is coming along with the BSVI is light weighting. Lucas TVS is also ready with the products for this. Many of the group companies are making forged and cast components to bring in the lightweight products. “To meet the fuel efficiency norms, it is very important to reduce the weight. We are looking at every way to reduce the cost and weight,” Balaji said.

Baburaj said they have approached the light-weighting requirements and have a starter motor with a power to weight ratio of 200 W/kg. Now, they have come up with a new motor that has a power to weight ratio of 600 W/kg. “We have done this by using different and better components and technology. In the alternator, we have reduced the weight wherever it is possible.”

In order to meet the new environmental strategies of India, Lucas TVS has developed stop-start systems, integral starter generators, emission control products like urea pumps and brushless motor technologies. The company has developed innovative products, manufacturing systems and processes, which had brought growth in business. They have also helped Lucas TVS to be one of the few companies in the World to be awarded the Deming Application Prize and the Deming Grand Prize, by the Union of Japanese Scientists & Engineers and to set benchmarks in the industry. The company is working on different future projects. One such development is the small motors or what they call as the smart motors, where no alternator will be required.

In the long run, when we totally switch over to EVs the alternator may not be needed. So, we are thinking of diversification and of electromagnetic parts where we concentrate more on electric motors, mechanical components etc. We are also working on EPAS, ABS and compressor motors. We are supplying the compressor motor in large numbers to WABCO. They are being used in vehicles manufactured in Germany. We have also started supplying ABS motors to the company. We have developed an electric vacuum pump. So far, it has been a mechanical vacuum or a vacuum fitted on the alternator,” Baburaj signed off.

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