On 30 September 2022, Sushil Reddy launched into a exceptional highway journey by means of the historic Golden Quadrilateral route, crossing 35 cities throughout 13 states whereas protecting a mammoth distance of 8,849 km in 70 days.
This was yet one more chapter of ‘The SunPedal Trip’, a world outreach venture Sushil began in 2016 to have “conversations about clear and sustainable mobility through endurance journeys undertaken on zero tail-pipe emission automobiles”.
Ranging from Delhi, the Mumbai-based engineer took the MG ZS EV, an electrical SUV, by means of totally different corners of the nation to coach and lift consciousness concerning the necessity of fresh power and sustainable mobility at faculties, universities and different establishments of studying. At these websites, Sushil supplied check drives for individuals to know how the driving expertise is totally different in EVs “in order that they admire e-mobility”.
Other than Sushil, there have been some buddies who travelled with him on the MG ZS EV throughout totally different segments of the journey. These embody Rajendra Bhaskar, Avishma Matta, Aakarsh Shamanur, Mirik Gogri, Utkarsh Rastogi, Barbara Vermeire and Bram Biemans. Sushil, nonetheless, was the one fixed within the automotive throughout this whole journey.
Talking to The Higher India after his journey, he says, “As part of The SunPedal Trip consciousness venture, my thought was to do an extended distance journey on an electrical automotive in India since I had some questions relating to vary, charging, efficiency of the electrical vehicles, and so forth.”
“I believed that it could possibly be a great studying expertise. Many are nonetheless sceptical in terms of adoption of newer applied sciences like electrical automobiles, particularly questions round vary anxiousness.”
“So, I reached out to the MG Motor workforce in Gurugram and so they appreciated the concept of me embarking on such a journey to generate higher public confidence about electrical automobiles (EVs) and entice extra individuals to undertake them. The MG Motor workforce agreed to offer the MG ZS EV for the 70-day journey. A motive for selecting the Golden Quadrilateral nationwide freeway community because the route was as a result of it’s a symbolic community of roads connecting 4 main cities (Delhi-Kolkata-Chennai-Mumbai) in 4 totally different areas (North, East, South, West),” he provides.
An engineer on a mission
Rising up in Mumbai, Sushil earned his MTech (twin diploma) from IIT-Bombay in power science and engineering. Between 2013 and 2016, he labored in a number of organisations primarily engaged within the photo voltaic power sector.
It was in the summertime of 2016 when he began The SunPedal Trip venture alongside buddies.
Sushil and his buddies undertook their first lengthy distance journey, embarking on a 7,424 kilometre-long drive throughout India utilizing a custom-built photo voltaic powered electrical bicycle with a security automobile “to lift consciousness about photo voltaic power and sustainable mobility”.
The journey took 79 days and even earned him recognition within the Guinness E book of World Information for the longest journey taken on an e-bicycle. In 2017-2018, he earned one other postgraduate diploma in sustainability and social innovation from HEC Paris, a enterprise faculty.
Since founding The SunPedal Trip, he has launched into quite a lot of long-distance journeys within the United States, Iceland, France and different components of India as properly.
Charging your EV on the Golden Quadrilateral
Masking distances from 120 km to 340 km on a given day naturally give rise to considerations surrounding the flexibility to cost your automobile. How did Sushil overcome these?
“Curiously, we charged the MG ZS EV solely 12 occasions at DC fast-charging stations alongside this route, costing us Rs 2,851. The remainder of the time, we charged the automotive in a single day utilizing a transportable AC charging cable that could possibly be plugged into any16 Amp socket (3 pin heavy obligation socket which is often used to run masses like air conditioners, geysers, water coolers and so forth),” he says.
“Luckily, many hosts helped us cost our automotive in a single day without spending a dime together with resorts and universities the place we have been put up. For instance, IIT-Kanpur, which has a group EV charging system, allowed us to cost our automobile in a single day. However the whole journey was deliberate in line with the worst case situation in terms of charging. The utmost distance lined in a day was 340 km (inside the actual world vary of the MG ZS EV),” he provides.
On a median, in line with Sushil, DC fast-charging prices Rs 3 per km for the reason that common worth of charging at a DC quick charger right now is Rs 18/- per kWh. AC slow-charging on a 16 Amp socket prices lower than INR 2/- per km relying on the electrical energy tariff of a given state. Having mentioned that, AC sluggish charging can take greater than 20 hours for a full cost.
“Now, should you examine this with working an inner combustion engine (ICE) automobile together with petrol/diesel prices, the operating price is anyplace between INR 7-10 per km. In different phrases, the operating price of an EV is sort of half that of an IC-engine automobile,” he says.
For riders desirous to take long-distance journeys on EVs, Sushil has an vital tip. “It’s vital to hold an extension twine to entry the 16 Amp plug level, which might not be accessible at a brief distance close to the parking space of the electrical automotive,” he notes.
“Additionally, there was an intermittent energy reduce in Bihar the place we have been staying in a single day. So, it took longer than anticipated for the automotive to cost that evening. Charging time is an element to keep in mind if you plan an EV journey, which could possibly be a problem,” he provides.
In the meantime, help for Sushil got here from on-line communities like Plugshare, a “excellent group based mostly useful resource” to find EV charging stations the world over.
“Anyone can entry the Plugshare web site or app to plan for charging an EV. An attention-grabbing characteristic is you can additionally go away a public evaluate of an EV charger on Plugshare so that individuals can determine accordingly. Additionally, whereas planning this EV journey, I had posted about my plan in a group Telegram Group — PlugInIndia — the place EV homeowners and fanatics focus on and share their experiences amongst themselves. As a useful resource, there are excellent group on-line teams of EV homeowners who assist one another right now,” explains Sushil.
Nonetheless, in an in depth weblog the place Sushil recounts each step of the journey, he does spotlight one key problem in travelling lengthy distances on EVs.
“Community institution at EV charging stations and managing a number of apps and digital wallets of EV charging station firms could possibly be a problem. However there are answers right now to eradicate this problem just like the QR code scanning ‘Cost-Through’ course of by Fortum Cost and Drive and YoCharge,” he notes.
One other key studying on charging infrastructure was how resorts are additionally cashing in on the EV revolution in India.
In his weblog, Sushil famous, “We have been hosted by the Wedlock Greens Lodge in Dhanbad the place we may additionally cost the automotive utilizing a 16 Amp sluggish charger on the resort parking. It’s good to see resorts reminiscent of Wedlock Greens to help sustainability outreach initiatives — main by instance, there was rain water harvesting and a photo voltaic powered cafe on the resort.”
Driving an EV on the Golden Quadrilateral
The MG ZS EV presents a spread of about 300 to 350 km (with a battery capability of fifty.3 kWh) on a single cost with out compromising on the driving type at regular speeds, claims Sushil.
“Decrease speeds will typically ship the next vary as a result of lesser air drag and rolling resistance. Regeneration performs a key function in metropolis driving as a result of frequent braking. Immediate acceleration may be very helpful for overtaking on highways. We even touched speeds as much as 150 kmph, but it surely’s not really helpful for the reason that vary may drastically scale back.”
“The typical pace on highways was about 75 kmph (often no compromise on the driving pace). We touched 150 kmph on the Yamuna Expressway on the way in which to Agra, however just for a quick stretch,” he says.
Throughout this journey, Sushil encountered one notably difficult part from Lucknow to Varanasi.
“There isn’t any DC Quick Charger on the direct route. It was a decent journey and we needed to decrease our pace to 60 kmph and in addition change off the air-con to make it to Varanasi with 1% battery remaining. The important thing takeaway from this present day was that driving types have an effect on the vary in an EV. Additionally, switching off the AC can ship an extra 20-30 km of vary,” he says.
One of many largest learnings throughout this journey was the necessity for superior planning for charging (time and accessibility), which permits EVs to cowl lengthy distances.
“Additionally, it’s simpler to entry electrical energy than petrol or diesel. One can’t have a tank filled with petrol/diesel at house, in contrast to electrical energy, to gasoline the automobile,” he provides.
Educating younger minds
By means of the course of this journey, Sushil and his buddies encountered quite a lot of academic establishments the place they talked to college students about the advantages of electrical mobility.
On Day 10 of their 70-day journey, for instance, he made his strategy to the LOKA Faculty within the small city of Obra, Uttar Pradesh, which goals to empower children from villages and “make them self assured and self-reliant through different ability based mostly schooling”.
To show college students on the faculty how EVs work, they gave them a possibility to check drive the MG ZS EV. Related workouts have been additionally organised in VIBGYOR Group of Faculties throughout Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, apart from different faculties.
Sushil additionally made it some extent to go to all the key IITs (Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Bombay), the place college students and researchers are engaged in main initiatives associated to electrical mobility.
Nonetheless, his visits weren’t relegated to elite establishments of upper schooling. They visited an entire host of faculties in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra, the place they spoke of their expertise of driving EVs throughout lengthy distances, organised Q&A classes and even allowed college students to check drive their EV on their respective campuses.
Funding and help
Regardless of drastically lowering the price of such lengthy journeys on EVs as in comparison with petrol or diesel-powered automobiles, there are different main prices to contemplate, notably meals and lodging. Funding and help for this journey got here from quite a lot of gamers together with main firms, universities and different personal people.
“Main price was meals and lodging over the interval of 70 days. There have been some sponsors who supported the journey to cowl these bills — Fortum Cost and Drive (our charging accomplice), River Comics, Amara Raja Group, Texas Devices India. MG Motor offered the MG ZS EV electrical automotive for 70 days. Many universities and other people helped us accommodate in a single day, in addition to with the charging of the electrical automotive,” he says.
“This journey wouldn’t have been attainable with out their help,” he provides.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)