This is the production-version of the Ultra Electric concept debuted at 2016 Auto Expo.
Tata Motors is at the forefront of hybridisation and electrification of mass passenger vehicles in India. Last year at the 2016 Auto Expo, Greater Noida, the company exhibited the most-fascinating electric mini-bus concept ‘Ultra Electric‘. The production-version of this concept is now undergoing trail runs at various route across the country, as a part of the company’s strategy to make value proposition for its electric vehicles by understanding customer requirements under different operating conditions.
After successful trial run at Parwanoo-Shimla route in Himachal Pradesh early this month, the Ultra Electric non-AC mini bus is now undergoing similar trials at the city of Chandigarh. Few other prototypes are also in the initial test runs at Nagpur as well. As a zero-emission vehicle, the Ultra Electric boasts a pure-electric powertrain consisting of a permanent-magnet AC traction motor generating 120 kWh of power and 550 Nm torque and a 120 kW Li-ion battery pack. A fully-automatic transmission delivers power to the wheels. The bus can run at a maximum speed of 75 kmph, with gradeability at 20 percent.
As far as trial results are concerned, the Ultra Electric has clocked a distance of 160 kms in a single charge while in Chandigarh city conditions, the bus is said to have covered 143 kms using just 70% total charge. In terms of charging time, sources said that the battery pack takes almost 4 hours to get charged from nil. The company is also testing a fast charging system along these trial runs that can replenish the batteries in just 1.5 hours. A brake energy regenerative system is also in place, along with electronically-controlled braking system and pneumatic suspension.
Apart from the absence of IC engine related components, the Marcopolo-built Ultra Electric bus is visually hard to differentiate from the regular diesel-powered Ultra buses. The ITS-enabled bus can seat up to 26 passengers, with a floor height of 650mm, and complies to UBS-II premium bus category. The company is also testing the 12-metre version of the Ultra Electric with increased seating capacity and floor height (900mm), suitable for BRTS applications. The Ultra Electric range of buses are locking horns with Ashok Leyland’s Circuit Electric Bus, which are also on trial runs at present.