The Indian Electric Vehicle market is set to reach a sales volume of 10.8 lakh units by 2025. However, these vehicles are currently at a high price and are not affordable to consumers in low-income categories.
To bridge this gap, a team of seven students at the KL University, Hyderabad have retrofitted an old and discarded bike into an EV.
“We also added futuristic features including wireless charging and cell balancing, which ensures equalised charging,” says Charan Sai (21), a fourth-year student of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and the lead of the project.
In an interview with The Better India, Charan shares the details and features of his ‘futuristic’ electric bike.
From project to prototype
In 2018, during his second year of college, Charan was part of a project which required him to identify issues in society and come up with innovative solutions. He focussed on the EV sector.
“I decided to work in the EV sector because of my personal experience. When I wanted to buy an electric bike that year, the ones with good mileage were expensive and priced over a lakh. This made me innovate a solution which would be cost-effective without compromising on smart features,” says Charan.
With help from six other classmates and a senior, Charan began designing a battery system that he could retrofit into an old bike.
“Designing a new bike entirely would not be cost-effective, so we decided to use an old bike that was discarded as scrap,” says Charan, adding that the funds to purchase these were provided by the college.
By using lab facilities at the college premises and taking help from some of their professors, the team designed a resonance inductive coupling system. This is a wireless charging system that is also portable.
“The system is powered by a 24 ampere (Ah) lithium-ion battery which offers 48 Volts of power. It works on grid power and is equipped to charge solar energy. It can be switched depending on the weather conditions,” says Charan.
Further, the team removed the bike’s motor and retrofitted the battery. They also placed a receiver system on the bike’s body that would allow wireless charging.
“The transmitter for this is placed on the portable charging station. The bike begins charging when these are placed parallel to each other. It works the way a phone is charged on a wireless system,” says Charan, adding that it took them two years to innovate the battery.
Features of the bike
In 2020, the team had to slow down their progress because they could not work from their college due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the team split up their responsibilities and continuously worked on updating their system from home.
Once the lockdown eased, they regrouped in their college and retrofitted the bike.
“The testing for the charging and bike mileage was done within college premises. We could not take it to the road as we would require government approval before doing so,” says Charan.
The bike takes five hours to fully charge and gives a mileage of 90 kilometres. It has a top speed of 55 km/hr which the team hopes to increase to 60 – 70kms/hr.
“This is only our first prototype. We have received a grant of Rs 1.4 lakhs from the college to improve our design and launch a commercially viable solution. While the price of retrofitting will vary for different bike models, currently it is estimated at a base price of Rs 35,000,” says Charan.
(Edited by Divya Sethu.)