Ashok Leyland bets on Israel-based company’s Aluminum Air battery for electric commercial vehicles

Ashok Leyland, the auto arm of the Hinduja Group said it signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Phinergy, an Israel-based company that is developing Aluminium Air batteries for long-range vehicles.

Unlike lithium ion batteries, which need to be recharged after 200-500 km, a vehicle that uses aluminum air battery can run for several thousand kilometers.

Another advantage is that the energy-to-weight ratio of aluminum air batteries is far higher than that of lithium ion batteries. A lithium ion battery that is designed to last for the entire duration of a cross-country truck route will weigh as much as as the truck itself, but not an aluminum air battery.

Phinergy claims an energy to weight ratio of 8 kWh (8,000 watt hours) of stored electricity per kg of aluminium. A typical lithium ion battery stores only 150 watt hours per kg.

A truck would consume at least 25,000 watts on average, and to run it for one hour would require a 25,000 watt-hour battery.

Such a battery would weigh 167 kg in lithium ion technology. Using aluminum air, the battery would contain only 3 kg of the metal. To run the truck for 10 hours non-stop would require a battery that is 10 times as heavy.

The higher storage to weight ratio could make the solution ‘grid independent’ as the vehicle can run for up to a day on a single battery.

Moreover, aluminum air batteries are less expensive than lithium ion batteries, especially in high capacity versions.

The downside of these batteries is that they cannot be recharged at home. To ‘recharge’ them, their anode has to be mechanically replaced with new ones.

This makes aluminum air batteries useful for fleet operators whose trucks run non-stop for thousands of km from point to point. In such situations, the batteries need to be replaced only once in 1,000-1,500 km or so.

Ashok Leyland, being one of India’s top truck makers, is hoping to include the technology in its solutions.

“Over the next few months, we will develop the first few prototypes and trial pilots on different platforms in order to better tune Phinergy’s offering for various commercial vehicle applications,” said S.A. Sundaresan, Head of eMobility Tech, Ashok Leyland.

“Our approach to EV Commercial Vehicles will continue to be such that we move people and goods rather than batteries, with optimal use of battery capacities”, added Mr.

Karthick Athmanathan, Head-EV and eMobility Solutions for the Indian company said he saw good potential for Phinergy’s technology in India.

“This will add further to our various portfolios for Commercial Vehicle EVs, where We are committed to offering our customers competitive solutions with various options that use cutting edge technology.”

Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy said his company has been working with Ashok Leyland for over a year.

“We believe that our high technology solution will help the Indian customer to keep costs low while addressing range anxiety and reliability. We look forward to rapidly developing our offering and Scaling up operations for CV applications in India,” he said.

“Given the Grid and Power position in most markets, this will be the first time EV Commercial Vehicles will have a Grid-independent solution that is cost-effective as well as emission-free”, added David Mayer, WP of Business Development for Phinergy.