Big visions are realized through small steps.
3% of vehicles on Indian roads are commercial vehicles, yet they are responsible for 53% of PM and 34% of CO2 emissions. Indian trucks aren’t safe either and accounted for more than 14000 fatalities. Driving conditions are hard for our truck drivers, and more than 50% have compromised vision. Yet, driving for long hours, and battling corruption on the road, they are delivering the goods that run our Indian economy. India imported $178 billion worth of crude oil this year alone! All this needs to change and Tresa is not waiting.
I’ve learned the hard way, that the right way to target any massive engineering challenge is following it up with a disciplined approach, which I call “Delta upgrades”. I tell this to my students at The School of AI as well, if you make 10 changes to your model, you wouldn’t know what helped and what didn’t. So we decided to first build an electric test platform out of an existing chassis that could be repurposed as per our needs. We needed a ladder chassis but most vehicles today use monocoque design, and after some brainstorming, so we opted for Force Motors One.
Since early on we’ve believed that the system voltage needs to be very high, and selected it to be 800V for our use case (we’re pushing it to an even higher number now). Finding components for this scale isn’t easy. We were also testing out different battery types, prismatic, pouch, cylindrical, etc. For our first version, we went ahead to test out the pouch-cell design. Batteries were imported from Korea and once we had them, we picked EMUS’s BMS to control them. It took a couple of months to get the HVL connections right. The first few weeks it acted like a touch me not plant, the current kept leaking out. And 800V DC is very dangerous! Once we figured out the leak, we got our VCU to control the rest of the components, including steer-by-wire of course!
Our team finished the test platform that you see in the video below sometime last year. It had fast charging, 800V architecture, amazing acceleration, load-carrying capacity, steer-by-wire, and a 250km range.
By July 2022
Since then, a lot has happened. We electrified a Mercedes S Class that took some ingenious hacking to achieve seamless integration and functionality. We built a complete commercial vehicle test platform targeted for 18T of GVW, and finished, probably India’s first 150kW Axial Flux Motor delivering insane performance. And of course, we finished our sharp Model V0.
We believe in sharing, teaching, and learning together, so from now on, you’ll have a weekly update on some of the behind-the-scenes stories. In the next blog (8th June), we will share how we moved from our test platform to a Mercedes S class. Don’t miss it!
We’d be unveiling our Model V0 on 3rd of July.