Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

FRANKFURT – On hand here for its first major auto show, India’s Reva Electric Car Co. unveils two cars designed to take the company to the next step – the NXR slated for production early in 2010 and the NXG due in 2011.

Since 2001, the company, a partnership between the Indian Maini Group and the California company AEV LLC, has sold 3,000 lead-acid 4-wheelers in 24 countries – half in India.

The NXR’s lithium-ion phosphate battery gives the 4-seat hatchback a range of 99 miles (160 km) and a top speed of 65 mph (104 km/h). With a fast charge it refills in 1.5 hours, or it takes six hours with a standard 220-volt European current.

While pricing will vary depending on country, the NXR on average will cost E15,000 ($22,000), not counting the battery, while a lead-acid version with a 50-mile (80-km) range and 56-mph (90-km/h) top speed will cost E10,000 ($15,000), excluding the battery.

The difference in price is a result of the extra controls and connections required for the Li-ion version, the company says. Typically, batteries will be leased, but purchasing can be arranged.

The E23,000 ($34,000) NXG is a 2-seat, sporty vehicle with a cargo area. It is to have a 124-mile (200-km) range and a top speed of 81 mph (130 km/h).

The company plans to offer many telematics features, some of which are expected to appear on other EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf.

For example, buyers will be able to get a report on their eco-driving skills or telephone their car and tell it to warm up the cabin while it is still plugged in to the electrical outlet for recharging.

In addition, REVA plans one feature no one else has talked about. As a Li-ion battery can be badly damaged if it is discharged to zero, a small reserve is always left – like the several liters of fuel in the tank when the needle is on E.

If a customer calls REVA to say he is stuck somewhere out of fuel, he can send a “REVive” SOS signal to the company, which will examine the state of the battery, its temperature and the strains it has experienced that day and determine how much of the reserve can be freed without damage.

It can then send an override signal to the battery, giving the driver several more miles to reach a charging station.

“Some people are concerned by the fact they might run out of electricity,” a spokesman says. “In reality, they do this no more than people run out of liquid fuel. This feature will give them confidence.”

The company doesn’t let the owner access the electricity reserve because it believes people would abuse the system by using it too often.

The cars will be distributed in 10 European countries, including France, Britain, Spain and Germany. Production is in Bangalore, India.