Anda di halaman 1dari 6

PREFACE:

‘Only electricity can give the transport sector the flexibility to switch fuels when one or more become
too expensive.’ – Frederick W. Smith
In a world of fossil fuel driven vehicles, noxious gases and the threat of rising temperatures, electric
vehicles (EVs) have become the shining light. In several countries this industry disrupting products
has become increasingly popular, Tesla being a prime example of this newfound dominance. One can
see the growing impact EVs will have on the transportation industry.

Figure 1: A projection of EV growth

While this projection sums up the overall impact that EVs will have on the world, their sales are
extremely disparate. The reasoning is simple. Thousands of units are sold in countries like the United
States of America and northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden as they can afford
the expensive cost of these vehicles and the cost of setting up infrastructure to support them, such as
charging stations. Meanwhile it is not cost effective for larger and less economically developed
countries in the east to spend such exorbitant costs.
But as always, change is coming and the wave of EVs has reached the shores of many new nations.
Foremost among them is India, where the progress driven company Mahindra Electric Mobility
Limited is pioneering the market with its advanced EVs, the e2o, eVerito and e2o+. Supported by a
government which aims to make India all electric in transport by 2030, Mahindra Electric has, from
its headquarters in Bengaluru, manufactured car after car after car to help achieve this goal.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Mahindra Electric’s facility in Bengaluru and am writing this
report to explain just one thing. How does Mahindra manufacture EVs? However, through this
report, I hope you, the reader, will gain a better understanding of the potential of this product and the
impact it may have on our society, on our perception of transportation and our future in this country.
There are several people who are responsible for my writing this report and I would like to take the
opportunity to thank them. Thank you Mr Chandrasekar Kandasamy, Senior Vice President of
Finance, Mr Mahesh Babu, Chief Executive Officer of Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited and Mr
Saroj Khuntia, Chief Financial Officer of Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited for entertaining my
request and giving me your undivided attention for every small issue. Finally, thank you Mr Aravinda
Rao, Plant Head, for taking time out of your schedule to show me around the facility and explain
every process in detail.
THE BENGALURU FACILITY
The factory in Bangalore was established by the Reva Electric Car Company in 1994. It manufactured
several EVs, most notably the REVAi of which 4,000 units were sold in 26 different countries. Reva
was acquired by Mahindra when it bought a controlling stake of 55.2% in the company, rechristened
as Mahindra Reva and then Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited.
Currently the factory works to produce two different types of EVs: the Mahindra E2O and E2O+. It
also manufactures the power train of the E2O+ which is supplied to subsidiary plants in Nasik and
Pune.

Figure 2: The Mahindra E2O+

Figure 3: The shop floor of the Bangalore facility

This plant, unlike other typical industrial areas, is revolutionary in the sense that it is the future of
sustainable production. The plant is platinum rated by the Indian Green Building Council and for
good reason. It is powered by 75 kilowatt solar panels which cuts the plant’s electricity costs and
fossil fuel usage. All waste and sewage generated is treated on site, which limits the plant’s waste
discharge and helps protect the environment. Finally, the plant is designed in such a manner that it
does not depend wholly on air conditioning or sunlight to facilitate production. Its unique design
allows for the natural circulation of air, cooling the workspace and cutting electricity costs due to air
conditioning. The plant also uses LED lighting, which is more efficient than its incandescent
counterparts and further reduces electricity costs whilst limiting the need for sunlight.
AGGREGATE MANUFACTURE:
Like any building or machine, EVs produced in this plant require basic building blocks. These blocks,
in the industrial world, are known as components. Components have various functions and come in all
sorts of shapes and size, come together to form crucial systems of the vehicle, just like tissues banding
together to form organs, and are supplied by external vendors. These crucial systems are known as
aggregates. The aggregates for the vehicle may differ from time to time as the E2O+ has three
different variants.
The only aggregate that is assembled at this plant is the power train, which consists of the
transmission and the electric motor assembled together. The electric motor is responsible for
generating torque and power, while the transmission ‘transmits’ this power to the wheels of the
vehicle via different gears. One is not complete without the other.

MOTOR

TRANSMISSION

Figure 4: A power train

But first, we must understand how the motor itself functions and generates power. The electric motor
of the EV is connected in a simple circuit to a battery with a switch. When one turns the ignition of
the vehicle, the switch is closed and current flows to the motor, switching it on. Similarly, when one
turns the ignition off and pulls the key out of the slot, the switch is opened and the circuit is broken,
stopping the flow of current to the motor.

MOTOR

BATTERY

Figure 5: A diagram of the circuit

The electric motor relies on the principles of electromagnetism to function. More specifically, it relies
on Faraday’s Law of electromagnetic induction, that when a wire with current passing through it is
placed in a magnetic field, the field exerts a force on the wire that is perpendicular to the direction of
the magnetic field and current.

Figure 6: A diagram of a simple electric motor


As seen in Fig. 6, a battery is connected to a coil which is in a magnetic field. When the switch is
closed and current flows from the DC battery into the coil, Faraday’s Law tells us that a force will be
exerted on both sides of the coil, making it rotate clockwise. As it rotates, the split ring commutators
rotates as well and when the coil is almost vertical, the commutator’s gap comes in between the wire
and the split ring and the circuit is broken. At this point, one might assume that the coil will fall back
down the way it came. However, the contrary happens. The coil, at this point, has sufficient rotational
energy to rotate 180 degrees from its original position and the commutator once again comes in
contact with the wire, restarting the process once again. Through this process, mechanical energy is
converted to electrical energy and power is generated.
The transmission, as mentioned earlier, transmits this power to the wheels of the EV and creates
locomotion. It is sub-assembled at the plant and is first quality tested by workers. These workers look
at the condition of the gears and roll it against a master gear to make sure that it is functioning
properly. Following this, the transmission is cleaned with high speed jets of water and the input,
intermediate and output gear trains are installed in the transmission casing. These three gear trains are
extremely important as they transmit power in a step-wise fashion. The input gear transmits power to
the intermediate gear, which in turn does the same to the output gear. The output gear train transmits
power to the axle and the wheel via gear shafts.
With these crucial components installed, the upper casing of the transmission housing is mounted to
protect the gear trains. The transmission section is now complete and is tested thoroughly for
leakages. This is done by blowing air through it at a high pressure and drenching it with a soap-water
solution. A leak would be indicated by bubbling in the solution. If a leak is detected, the entire section
is torn apart and investigated thoroughly for the fault. If there is human error on a worker’s part, he or
she is handled by superior officers. If there is a fault in the component, a complaint is registered with
the vendor who supplies them. Finally, the issue in concern is tabulated and detailed so that such an
incidence is prevented to the best of Mahindra’s ability in the future.
Workers at the next station now couple the electric motor, the rear axle and transmission together (ref.
Fig 4) to form the power train. Lastly, the power train is put in a dynamometer. A dynamometer is a
quality testing machine which tests the aggregate on three parameters: force, power and torque to
check that the aggregate is performing at required levels.

Figure 7: A dynamometer

ASSEMBLY OF THE VEHICLE


With the power train assembled, the main assembly of the vehicle begins. This process starts with the
sub-assembly of the steel space frame with the power train, the front braking system. The space frame
(ref. Fig 8) forms the body of the EV and is bought from a nearby vendor located at the Karnataka-
Tamil Nadu border.

SKID

Figure 8: A space frame

The space frame, now known as the chassis, is lifted via a system of hoists onto a motorised tray on
the main assembly line known as a skid. Workers proceed to install the glass windshield and
electronic units that include the battery, the motor control, the cooling unit and the intelligent energy
management system on the chassis. The intelligent energy management system and the motor control
are especially important as they perform crucial functions around the motor. The motor control, as the
name implies, controls the motor when it receives electric signals from the accelerator and brake. The
intelligent energy management system on the other hand measures all energy inputs and outputs in the
vehicle and optimises the vehicle’s energy usage to make it work efficiently.
Next, workers perform a special process which is unique to this facility and is extremely cost
effective. Most vehicle plants have a separate paint shop where the fenders and the chassis are painted
either manually or via mechanized means. The facility in Bangalore does not require a paint shop at
all as it uses special fenders which are bonded to the chassis using a curing agent. These ABS sheets
are imported from Austria and do not need to be welded to the chassis either. This is cost effective as
it cuts electricity costs from welding and the cost of operating separate units in the facility like a paint
shop. This reflects Mahindra’s production philosophy, adapted from the Toyota Production System,
which aims at eliminating waste and promoting kaizen or improvements to make the system more
efficient.
The chassis is left for half an hour to allow the bonding agent to cure before it moves to the second
line where the glass of the rear hatch is installed. Following this, workers install the IP substrate and
the dashboard.

Figure 9: The IP Substrate


Workers now begin installing peripheral components onto the vehicle, such as the doors, the rear and
front bumpers, the seat and hood, the fenders, the steering wheel and the like. They ensure that all
electronics in the car are properly connected and operational before working on systems underneath
the hood. These include the compressor AC, the wiper container and the spare wheel. Finally, the
wheels are installed onto the EV and it is now drivable.
The finished product now goes through serious testing to ensure that it is ready for the field. First the
wheel alignment and the head light alignment are checked following which the brakes are tested.
Another dynamometer tests the torque and speed of the vehicle. The EV is then driven through a
shower and inspected by a customer acceptance official to make sure that is acceptable for the general
public. At this point the EV is ready for dispatch.