MUMBAI –Reva Electric Vehicles’ new plant on the fringe of Electronics City, the information-technology hub in Bangalore, rolls out its 2-door NXR (Next Generation) Electric Car in a couple of months.
The Rs1 billion ($18 million) facility initially will produce 6,000 units but annual capacity is 30,000. The EV uses solar energy to charge the battery and can light one’s home using the vehicle’s power source.
Unlike earlier Reva models, the NXR EV seats four people comfortably. Its lithium-ion battery has a range of 100 miles (161 km) on full charge and a topspeed of 65 mph (105 km/h).
As preparations for the NXR’s launch continue, the Indian government last month unveiled its 8-year National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles 2020.
The program is intended to lower carbon-dioxide emissions 1.3% to 1.5% and save 2.42 million to 2.75 million tons (2.2 million to 2.5 million t) of fossil fuels worth Rs300 billion ($5.3 billion) a year at today’s price levels by 2020.
Reva Electric Car was established in 1994 by the Maini family to create affordable EVs with advanced technology. More than 4,000 Reva cars are on the road in India, Japan, Australia and several European countries including the U.K.
The Japanese government pays a $2,600 rebate to every Reva buyer. The 800 or so Reva cars in London, where they are known as quadricycles, cost £6,999 ($11,245) each, but buyers save some £8,000 ($12,850) through exemptions from road taxes, parking fees and congestion charges; they also receive a discount on London Rail tickets.
The pioneering Reva-i, a 2-seat hatchback the size of a golf cart, debuted in India in 2001 and went on sale in London in 2004. It is making way for a reinvented computerized model featuring a wireless tablet, touchscreen display and satellite-based navigation connected to the Internet. An MP3 music player complements the infotainment system.
India planned to acquire Reva before & Mahindra obtained a 55.2% stake two years ago and developed a purpose-built plant to roll out the NXR. The facility has earned a platinum rating from Indian Green Building Council.
The rating is based on factors including site selection that prevents soil erosion, rainwater harvesting, using solar energy for lighting and air conditioning, and fuel and material conservation. The plant’s overall design and manufacturing technology are designed to protect workers’ health and maintain environmental quality both inside and outside.
Solar power generates the electricity that charges the Reva’s battery for the first time. Indeed, one-third of the energy per car build comes from sunlight.
“With our clean and green manufacturing facility, we are in the process of establishing new benchmarks within the automobile industry,” says Mahindra Group President Pawan Goenka.
The Reva will be sold with a solar-charging unit called Sun2Car, which Mahindra says will provide free, clean energy to the car over its lifetime. Another technology innovation showcased at the plant’s inauguration is Car2Home, which uses power from the car to meet the energy needs of the house.
The EV’s production cost is about Rs560,000 ($10,000) per unit, more than that of even the smallest gasoline-powered car. The cost is the result of the small initial production run, pricey Li-ion batteries and other imported components, and expensive new technologies.
The Indian government until March paid a subsidy of up to Rs100,000 ($1,800) for every Reva car sold, in addition to significant concessions in excise and customs duties. The NMHEV 2020 scheme promoting hybrid and EV development takes effect in March 2013.
Under the Rs230 billion ($4.13 billion) program, the government will provide Rs130 billion ($2.3 billion) for research and development and for subsidies to buyers. Auto makers and banks will be required to raise the balance. In addition, the government’s next budget is expected to cut duties and taxes further, and may include income-tax rebates to buyers.
The plan aims to put 6 million to 7 million EVs – 1 million 4-wheeled vehicles, the rest 2-wheelers – on Indian roads by 2020.
Maruti Suzuki and Tata also have done extensive research into EVs, while Nissan India plans to launch its Leaf EV in the country. Toyota Kirloskar,, India and India are developing hybrid vehicles.
Aided by government intervention on such a massive scale, electric and hybrid vehicles are about to emerge on India’s horizon and in auto makers’ export portfolios in a major way.
“Electric vehicles are a very potent weapon for our global ambitions,” Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra Group, said at the Reva plant’s inauguration. “It is our aim to design and develop the future of mobility in India through them.”