Prabha Venkataram | Niveditha BA Elektrobit India Pvt. Ltd
In developing economies, two and three-wheelers are the most prevalent modes of transportation. According to the reports from the UN Environment Programme, there are 270 million motorcycles on the road worldwide, with 50 million annual addition. Following this projection rate, by 2050, the two-wheeler population around the world is expected to rise to 400 million.
Many of these vehicles work on the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), which is inefficient in terms of the particulate matter emission that is a cause for environmental concern. The particulate emission from a two-stroke two-wheeler is more than that of a passenger car. Think tanks such as the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India have repeatedly stressed that bikes and scooters are an environmental hazard. In India, 32% of air pollutants generated by the transport sector come from two-wheelers. The four-stroke engine is cleaner because it burns pure petrol; the two-stroke engine, on the other hand, burns a combination of lubricating oil and petrol, and a fair amount of the oil is emitted as unburnt vapor. Fourstroke engines and adaptation of other cleaner emission technologies can reduce the emissions but cannot remove them. Globally, experts agree that moving the two-wheelers to electric mobility should be the priority in developing nations. The UN Environment Programme is supporting transitional countries to develop national programs for the introduction of electric two and three-wheelers in Africa and Asia.
Until recently, Electric Vehicles have been successful only in a few niche markets and in countries that have a very strong policy and infrastructure backup. However, over the last decade, a few circumstances have contributed to creating an opening and accelerating electric mobility to enter the mass market.
The scenarios below have brought about a mounting sense of urgency for the law-making and governing bodies around the world to look for alternatives to fossil fuels.
- Climatic change: The UN describes climate change as an “existential threat” of our times. The more fossil fuels we burn the more the emission of “greenhouse gases” increases contributing to global warming.
- Rapid urbanization: Economic development, especially in emerging economies, is creating a wave of urbanization as rural populations move to cities in search of employment. While urbanization is an important component of the process of economic development, it also stresses upon the energy and transport infrastructure leading to congestion and pollution.
- Energy security: The petrol and diesel needed to fuel an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)-based mobility system requires an extensively costly supply chain that is prone to disruption from weather, geopolitical events, and other factors. India needs to import oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel. In recent years, the developments below have propelled the journey to electric mobility and made it a feasible option for a cost-sensitive market.
- Advances in battery technology: Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging, and reduced battery degradation from charging. Combined with the development of motors with higher rating and reliability, these improvements in battery chemistry have reduced costs and improved the performance and efficiency of electric vehicles.
- Advances in renewable energy: Over the last decade, advances in wind and solar electricity generation technologies have drastically reduced their costs and introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon, and inexpensive grids.
The factors above have accelerated the adoption of Electric Vehicles as a mainstream transportation option.
Software has been a key enabler in bringing innovation, performance, end-user friendly, secure and safe features both in the vehicle and automotive backend systems such as garage and fleet management, over-the-air update backend systems.
The software in an Electric Vehicle is paramount for the overall vehicle performance and range. EVs depend on the software and connectivity between vehicle domains for their efficient functioning. One typical example is the functioning of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and the Battery Management System (BMS). Unlike an ICE, where the heat generated during combustion of the fossil fuels is used for the thermal needs of the cabin, the EVs have no such mechanical components. The EV needs an efficient BMS and HVAC ECU software to ensure optimal usage of the battery energy.
With standardization of the automotive software platforms, it has been possible for many start-ups and software companies to have a leveling field in the automotive market. OEMs leverage the software stacks for the basic software, including operating systems and domain-specific middleware and applications from these software companies. The standardization in interface exchange formats, such as the ones from the AUTOSAR foundation, have made this seemingly daunting task of the integration at the ECU and also at the vehicle level manageable.
The diagram below gives an overview of the major ECUs in a two-wheeler EV.
Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) – Vehicle Control Unit acts as the gateway for the different ECUs in a vehicle. It is the heart of the system where all the sensor inputs are processed to drive the actuator output. It controls the Battery Management System (BMS) based on State of Charge (SoC) and State of Health (SoH) of the system. It also controls the power to the Motor Control Unit (MCU). It also takes care of safety functionality during failures.
Telematics Control Unit (TCU): The TCU which houses the Network Access Device acts as the gateway between the vehicle and the cloud infrastructure. It uses wireless communication for collecting data from the vehicle, for diagnostics and for tracking the vehicle.
Instrument Cluster (ICL): The ICL acts as the interface between the driver and the vehicle. It indicates the status of speedometer, odometer, tachometer, oil pressure gauge, fuel gauge, mode of the vehicle, etc.
Body Control Module (BCM): The BCM for two-wheelers is capable of monitoring and controlling numerous nonpowertrain functions.
Battery Management System (BMS): The BMS monitors and measures cell voltage, pack charge and discharge current, monitors battery temperature, determines SoC/SoH of battery and has various protection features. Overall, the BMS offers a predictive maintenance software that can notify the driver when certain parts need a check-up so that the driver can schedule it.
Elektrobit (EB) is a leader in automotive software with over 30 years in the industry. EB’s software powers over one billion devices in more than 100 million vehicles and offers flexible, innovative solutions for car infrastructure software, connectivity & security, automated driving and related tools, and user experience.
For the EV two-wheeler, EB has a gamut of automotive product offerings. Below is a comprehensive list:
EVs will be the sustainable mobility option of the future. For this to be a reality and for a widespread acceptance and adoption of the technology by the consumer, all stakeholders such as the policymakers, OEMs, automotive suppliers, charging infrastructure developers, battery manufacturers, and governing bodies must collaborate together to create a sustainable EV ecosystem.
OEMs and Tier-1s can utilize the services and platforms already being offered by the automotive software Tier-2 suppliers. Elektrobit with its expertise in the automotive software area for over 30 years has envisioned the right products (mentioned above) that can be readily utilized by the Tier-1s and OEMs to accelerate their journey towards electrification.