Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s chief automakers, presented a line of three cars ready for production in 2012, including one Reva NXR, an all-electric city compact hatchback. The EV will be available later this year. The company has high hopes, despite car sales in India hitting a record slump in October due to higher financing costs, higher prices for fuel, and higher manufacturing costs. This week, Mahindra & Mahindra signed an agreement with the State Bank of India providing vehicle financing at “competitive” interest rates of 12%, a step forward for making the electric vehicle accessible.
It will take more than financing to make EVs successful in India, though. Dr. Pawan Goenka, president of the Automotive Sector of Mahindra & Mahindra, was quoted in The Hindu Business Line as saying that the EV’s commercial success depended on some kind of subsidy from the government to mitigate the high cost of the technology. He may have in mind the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s “Alternative Fuels for Surface Transportation Programme,” which provides 20% subsidies to manufacturers. There is no doubt that India does have a ways to go with infrastructure for EVs, but there is forward movement thanks to certain ministries and incentive programs being formed to promote EVs on the continent, including a reduction on the duty for importing batteries. (Side note- let’s also cross our fingers for an upsurge in renewable energy as a source for electricity in India. It sure loves its coal…) It might also help in a roundabout way that Farooq Abdullah, the minister for new and renewable energy, drove the Reva NXG to attend a cabinet meeting and had other cabinet members poke around the micro car.
The Mahindra Reva NXR uses technology sourced from successful Reva Electric Car Company, of which Mahindra acquired a majority stake in 2010. The NXR Intercity is a 2-door EV that seats four adults and has a reported range of just under 100 miles per charge of its lithium ion battery pack, which takes eight hours to charge. The top speed is a staid 65 mph; not bad for city driving, perhaps a bit boring on long trips (if anyone braves them with the current lack of charging infrastructure, that is). The NXR City version has a lead acid battery, so it’s cheaper. It has a more restricted range; roughly 50 mph top speed with a 50 mile range per charge.
…And the Verito Electric Makes Two
In case you haven’t seen it, Mahindra unveiled another electric concept vehicle at the New Delhi Auto show- an electric version of its Verito, a re-badged Dacia Logan that the company has been selling since April 2011. The Verito concept also uses technology from Reva, and features a 29kw engine with 53 mph maximum speed. Its lithium-ion battery provides a 62 mile range. The batteries take six hours to charge in India. The Verito Electric comes with a quick charge option that allows the battery to be refueled up to 80% of its capacity in one hour and fifteen minutes.
It should be interesting to see how the Mahindra Reva NXR fares once it hits market, considering how much experience Reva has in selling electric vehicles successfully. I’d love to see Tata’s EV concept in production as well. There’s a lot to look forward to this year.