Imagine an Ambassador hitting 60 kmph in just 12 seconds. This return of the Ambassador as an electric car is indeed incredible. If you keep aside the noise and vibrations that come with age, there is absolute silence!
A team of youngsters is behind this successful venture that has installed an electric heart to the iconic Amby at a time when cars are going the electric way at breakneck speed. You can see the He-Man electric Ambassador car up close and personal at the He-Man Auto Robo Park at Mookkannoor in Kerala's Angamaly.
Here are some interesting details about the electric Ambassador that is now under trial.
The electric car is an endeavour of the younger generation at He-Man Auto Robo Park that makes fully automated robotic car parking system. Led by He-Man Group of Companies' R&D division head Ashin Jose, director Paul P Varghese, engineer Vimal Cherian, and the experienced hands at He-Man, the Ambassador is now leading the group’s electric march.
Here is how they went about their project. An old Ambassador was bought and several components and its engine were either removed or replaced. Lead-acid batteries were mounted in empty spaces inside the bonnet. A few batteries can be found in the boot too. Together, there are 22 batteries. The 20kW pack provides 53 bhp of power and 275 Nm torque at 1500 rpm. Though they are completely different products, for the sake of comparison, the torque generated by the electric Amby is higher than the 1.4-litre petrol Jeep Compass, which produced a max torque of 250 Nm at 1750-2500 rpm. The higher torque helps the car to pick up speed fast. It has a top speed of 120 kmph.
The old Ambassador cost Rs 30,000 and additional works came to Rs 6 lakh. This was the total expenditure incurred by the team on the project. Now, what are they going to get in return? In 1 kW, the car will cover 5 km, which comes to about Re 1 for 1 km.
Will it hit the roads?
No. The trial of the He-Man electric car is restricted to the factory premises because they have not yet got approval from authorities. The team wants to see it as a pilot project to a future venture because the R&D wing of the He-Man Group of Companies ventured into the electric field only two months ago. Besides, more than converting cars into electric, they are focusing on large commercial vehicles.
A diesel bus incurs more than Rs 20 for a kilometre. This is apart from regular maintenance and services. If they opt to go electric, the cost can be cut down to Rs 5 for a kilometre. The young engineers in the team are also planning to mount solar panels on such vehicles, which will further bring down expenses. Such vehicles will also get huge subsidies. They believe that a combination of technology and government subsidy will help even loss-making KSRTC turn profitable. The added benefit is zero emissions.
For the team, the electric Amby is its first step in their journey towards commercial vehicles. They are confident because the electric Amby has got given them any troubles since its conversion. They have also run the Amby on solar panels; apart from bad looks there were no issues.
The electric Ambassador has an info screen that was designed by the He-Man team itself. It shows the vehicle's range, battery status, and several other info. Regenerative braking technology that helps charge battery while braking too has been incorporated in the electric Amby. This can be viewed on the screen through graphical representation.
The power is sent to the wheels by an AC induction motor. The battery takes eight hours for full charge. When lithium ion battery technology becomes simpler and more accessible, the team will shift from lead-acid batteries. This will help in reducing the weight of the car too, thus providing better efficiency and range.
Can all cars be converted?
Yes. But they should get the approval of Automotive research Association of India, the co-operative industrial research association set up by the automotive industry with the Union ministry of industries. The team is preparing for this.
When the photographer sought permission to take the inside pictures of the bonnet, the team politely said no. “Do you need the photos? There are some tech that are entirely ours. Is it better to publish them after we get patent for them,” came the polite counter-question. So, let the know-how for the vehicles of the future remain under wraps for the time being!