In a recent insightful Q&A Session with Dr. Munish Sabharwal, the Executive Director of IILM University in Greater Noida, we delved into the ever-evolving landscape of Electric Vehicle technology and its impact on education, innovation, and the future of transportation in India. Dr. Sabharwal shared his perspective on the recent developments in EV technology, the opportunities and challenges it presents, and how engineering colleges in India are preparing students to seize the vast potential of the electric mobility industry.

Let's delve into  Dr. Munish Sabharwal’s  valuable insights.

#IES: What are some recent developments in Electric Vehicle technology, and what opportunities and challenges do they present?

Dr Munish: The recent developments in electric vehicle technology includes lots of factors such as:

Battery Technology: Advances in battery technology have been a significant focus. This includes improvements in energy density, charging speed, and longevity. Solid-state batteries, which promise higher energy density and faster charging times, were under development and testing, all together contributing to higher range, longer battery life and warranty and reduced range anxiety.

Charging Infrastructure: The expansion of EV charging infrastructure is a key development. Fast-charging networks were being deployed to reduce charging times and improve convenience for EV owners mostly in the developed world. As of now, its replication is still a challenge in the developing world such as India.

Range Improvement: EV manufacturers were continually working to increase the driving range of their vehicles on a single charge, making EVs more practical for longer trips, even Indian manufactures such as Tata and Mahindra have taken lead in this aspect.

Performance EVs: We now have large numbers of high-performance electric vehicles from almost all major auto manufacturers of the world and their EV’s offer impressive acceleration and handling, challenging the notion that EVs are only for eco-conscious consumers.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Technology: This technology allows EVs to not only draw power from the grid but also to send power back to it. This has the potential to stabilize the grid and make better use of renewable energy sources.

Strong Hybrid EVs: We now have large numbers of Strong Hybrid high-performance electric vehicles majorly from Japanese auto manufacturers and their EV’s not only offer impressive acceleration and handling but at the same time their pairing with IC engines or Turbo IC engines offer great mileage and have the advantage of zero range anxiety.  

The Opportunities of Electric Vehicle technology are:

EVs offer the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, but especially when charged using renewable energy sources, therefore electric vehicle technology also gives rise to opportunities in renewable energy.

Reduced Operating Costs: EVs have lower operating and maintenance costs compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles due to fewer moving parts and less reliance on fossil fuels but more research is required in battery technology to bring down the battery cost, charging times, weight and increase battery efficiency, range.

Energy Independence: Widespread adoption of EVs can reduce a country's dependence on imported oil, enhancing energy security.

Innovation and Job Creation: The growth of the EV industry can stimulate innovation, create new job opportunities, and drive economic growth in related sectors.

The Challenges of Electric Vehicle technology are:

Battery Cost: While battery costs have been decreasing, they still represent a significant portion of an EV's overall cost. Further cost reductions are necessary for EVs to become more affordable.

Charging Infrastructure: Expanding and standardizing the EV charging network remains a challenge. Fast-charging stations need to be widely available to alleviate range anxiety especially in developing countries such as India.

Range Anxiety: Despite improvements, some consumers are still concerned about the driving range of EVs, especially for long trips.

Limited Model Options: While the variety of EV models has been increasing, there might still be limitations in certain segments like trucks and larger vehicles.

Materials and Recycling: As EV production grows, there are concerns about the sustainability of sourcing materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel for batteries, as well as the recycling of EV components.

Grid Capacity: Widespread adoption of EVs could strain the electricity grid, especially during peak charging times, necessitating upgrades to grid infrastructure.

Consumer Adoption: Convincing consumers to switch from conventional vehicles to EVs might involve overcoming psychological barriers, misconceptions, and lack of awareness.

#IES: Considering the rapid advancement of new technologies like Electric Vehicles, how competent do you find engineering colleges and students in India in keeping up with these developments?

Dr Munish: The universities and engineering colleges in India have certain core strengths such as the universities and engineering colleges in India offer comprehensive curricula that cover a wide range of engineering disciplines, including electrical and automotive engineering. This foundation provides students with the knowledge necessary to understand and contribute to EV technology.

Several universities and colleges have established collaborations with industry players, allowing students to work on real-world projects, internships, and research that align with the latest EV technology trends

Also few Indian engineering institutions are actively involved in research and development related to EVs. This includes projects focused on battery technology, charging infrastructure, and vehicle design.

The rise of EV technology has also prompted an interest in entrepreneurship. Some engineering students and graduates are working on start-ups related to EVs, charging infrastructure, and sustainable transportation solutions.

The universities and engineering colleges in India have many-many Challenges as far as EV technology is concerned, such as Outdated Curriculum, the Engineering education can sometimes lag behind rapidly evolving technologies. Keeping curricula up to date with the latest advancements, especially in emerging fields like EVs, can be a challenge and the majority of the institutions would be found wanting in this aspect.

Also Whilst theoretical knowledge is important, practical exposure is crucial, there is Lack of Practical Exposure, very Limited access to hands-on experiences with EV technology can hinder students' ability to fully understand and contribute to the field. Also there is Shortage of Skilled Faculty in EV technology as the field of EVs requires specialized knowledge, and there is a shortage of faculty members with expertise in this area.

Our institutions lack Infrastructure and Resources in EV technology such as adequate infrastructure, labs, and resources which are essential for students to gain hands-on experience with EV components and systems. Inadequate facilities can impede effective learning.

EV technology is closely tied to regulations and industry standards that can change rapidly. Universities & Engineering colleges need to be on their toes to adapt their curricula to incorporate these changes.

#IES: Considering the ambitious target set by the Government of India to achieve 30% Electric Vehicle penetration by 2030, along with the Make in India Initiative, the Electric Vehicle Industry is expected to generate substantial job opportunities. How are engineering colleges preparing their students to seize these opportunities and contribute effectively to the EV industry?

Dr Munish: Many universities and engineering colleges are reviewing and updating their curricula to include courses and modules related to electric vehicles, battery technology, power electronics, and sustainable transportation systems. This ensures that students gain the necessary theoretical foundation to understand and work in the EV industry.

Institutions are introducing specialized programs, certificates, or tracks focused specifically on electric vehicles. These programs provide students with in-depth knowledge and skills required for various aspects of the EV ecosystem.

Engineering colleges are encouraging students to engage in research projects related to electric vehicles, battery technologies, charging infrastructure, and related areas. This exposure to hands-on research fosters innovation and problem-solving skills.

Engineering colleges are fostering collaborations with electric vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and research organizations that allow students to work on real-world projects, internships, and industry-sponsored research. This provides practical experience and exposure to current industry practices.

Engineering colleges are organizing workshops, seminars, and training sessions conducted by industry experts. These workshops cover topics like EV design, battery management, power electronics, and charging infrastructure, helping students develop practical skills.

Institutions have started investing in practical labs and facilities equipped with EV components, battery systems, power electronics equipment, and simulation tools. This hands-on experience allows students to experiment with actual EV components and systems.

Some colleges are fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among students, encouraging them to develop their own EV-related startups and solutions. This aligns with the government's Make in India initiative and supports self-employment in the EV sector.

Engineering colleges are integrating sustainability and environmental awareness into their curricula, emphasizing the importance of clean transportation solutions and the role of electric vehicles in reducing carbon emissions.

Colleges were organizing seminars, webinars, and conferences featuring industry leaders and experts to provide students with insights into the current state and future trends of the electric vehicle industry.

#IES: What message would you like to convey to the audience, especially the young engineering minds, about the significance of Electric Vehicles and their potential to revolutionise the future of transportation in India?

Dr Munish: My message to the young engineering minds and the broader audience, I would like to emphasize the transformative potential of Electric Vehicles and their role in shaping the future of transportation in India. The journey towards a sustainable and efficient transportation future is in your hands. Electric Vehicles stand as a beacon of change, promising a revolution that can reshape the way we move, live, and interact with our environment. As we stand at the intersection of technology and progress, your expertise and creativity hold the power to accelerate this transformation and make a lasting impact. The significance of EVs transcends the realm of mere transportation. It's a commitment to cleaner air, quieter cities, and reduced carbon emissions. By embracing EV technology, you are not just driving innovation but also contributing to a cleaner and healthier India.

With the shift to EVs and the integration of renewable energy sources, India could achieve greater energy independence, reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels and enhancing national security. EVs hold the key to reducing air pollution and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. By embracing this technology, you are actively participating in the battle against climate change and safeguarding our planet for future generations.

The growth of the EV industry presents a canvas for entrepreneurship and job creation. From designing cutting-edge vehicles to developing charging infrastructure, your skills can fuel economic growth while driving a sustainable future.

EVs offer the promise of quieter and less congested cities. By contributing to this movement, you are contributing to urban environments that prioritize quality of life and well-being.

As India strives to become a global leader in sustainable transportation, your innovations can set the stage for global collaboration and influence how other nations approach their own mobility challenges.

So, as students who embark on their engineering journey, remember that your skills are essential for shaping the EV landscape in India. Dive deep into the realm of electric vehicles, seize opportunities to learn and collaborate, and embrace the challenges with enthusiasm. Whether you're designing more efficient batteries, refining charging infrastructure, or envisioning the vehicles of tomorrow, your work matters.

As a collective force, we can drive India towards a brighter, greener, and more innovative future. Let your passion for engineering be the driving force that propels our nation to the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.

The road ahead is charged with potential, and you have the power to accelerate change.

#IES: How do you believe events like the India eMobility Show can positively impact students in terms of their understanding, exposure, and potential career prospects in the field of Electric Mobility?

Dr Munish: Events like the India eMobility Show can have a profound positive impact on students in terms of their understanding, exposure, and potential career prospects in the field of Electric Mobility. These events provide a unique platform for students to engage, learn, and connect with industry professionals, experts, and innovative technologies. Here's how such events can be beneficial for students in terms of Learning Opportunities, Exposure to Cutting-Edge Technologies in EV Sector, Networking with Industry Professionals, getting Industry Insights and Trends, Showcasing their Innovations and Projects, Interactive Exhibitions and demonstrations of EV technologies, Career Exploration as well as lots of Inspiration and Motivation.

Overall, events like the India eMobility Show bridge the gap between academic learning and real-world applications, providing a holistic understanding of the electric mobility landscape. They offer a platform for students to explore, engage, and immerse themselves in the exciting and rapidly evolving world of electric mobility, ultimately shaping their educational and professional journey.