Dr. Amitabh Saran, CEO Dr. Lasse Moklegaard, CTO Shalendra Gupta, CFO“The idea of a cleantech startup germinated four years ago to reduce emissions and the use of fossil fuels in transportation,” begins Amitabh Saran, CEO, Altigreen Propulsion Labs. Saran, an engineering veteran concerned about the growing problem of urban pollution in developing countries, was shocked when the Toyota Prius was launched in India at an alarming price of $60,000. With painstaking data collection in India and simulations run in the U.S. by Lasse Moklegaard, a control engineering expert, Saran conceptualized Altigreen to democratize hybrid-electric technology. “Even electric cars are not green,” says Saran, “Over 80 percent of electricity generation in developing countries is still from fossil fuels, mainly coal.” Considering the expense of charging infrastructure, poor availability of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), consumers’ awareness and other safety concerns, Saran, along with fellow industry veterans Moklegaard, Shalendra Gupta, and John Bangura, set out to build an aftermarket solution to address this growing global issue. “Petrol is expensive, diesel is harmful, CNG is not widely available, electricity is not green, and hybrid vehicles are expensive. This paved the way for a Hybrid Electric Kit to retrofit in existing cars to significantly increase fuel economy and reduce emissions,” expresses Gupta.
Building hybrid engines is a complex engineering task. It requires two main components—an electric motor to power the drivetrain, and a software based controller to switch between fuel, electric drive and charging modes. Designing it as a retrofit solution common to multiple vehicle classes and manufacturers, made the problem doubly complex. Altigreen’s kit has a proprietary motor-generator at its heart and integrated power electronics for torque assist and regeneration, with complex model-based control logic, as its brain. “Being a fuel agnostic solution, it works with petrol, diesel, and CNG engines. Further, our patented designs create a smaller form factor resulting in lower material cost, greater ease of installation and reduced space requirement,” articulates Moklegaard.
Retrofit electric kit is a low cost, aftermarket system that transforms a fossil-fuel vehicle into a hybrid electric vehicle
“Increase mileage by over 20 percent and reduce emissions similarly, at $1,000—now that’s a game changer,” adds Gupta excitedly.
To keep tight control on quality, the retrofit kit has been split into multiple proprietary components, manufactured by an ecosystem of vendor partners. The kit was rigorously tested and calibrated for two years on multiple vehicles including petrol and diesel sedans and small trucks—collecting valuable data for future enhancements. “In its fifth version, we have further improved the electronics package and fine-tuned the energy regeneration capabilities,” explains Moklegaard. Altigreen is successfully piloting its kit with Carzonrent, a premier car rental company in India, as well as the intracity distribution fleets of beverage and ecommerce companies like Coca- Cola and UrDoorStep.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar automotive industry, with car sales growing over 12 percent CAGR, projected to cross 250 million vehicles across the developing countries in the coming decade,” estimates Saran. The company is already seeing keen demand for its solution. Altigreen aims to install the kit into passenger vehicles as well as hundreds of more fleets of taxis and LCVs in the coming years. Also, “we’ll be expanding our footprint across the cities of South America and South Asia like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta, Colombo, Sao Paolo, as well as within the high-traffic urban centers of U.S. and Europe,” concludes Saran.