Reva-ing it up in Delhi! Page 1 of 4
Reva-ing it up in Delhi!
By Razvan Maximiuc
Published 2008-12-10 06:54
Razvan Maximiuc, India country analyst, Cleantech Group
Last week, Cleantech Group India had an opportunity to test drive India’s own green car, the
REVA , or as we like to call it the ‘Bengaluru roadster’.
The REVA, India’s only electric vehicle is manufactured in South India, near Bengaluru (formerly
known as Bangalore). This small battery-run car has lots of unique features and is being ranked as
one of the most energy-efficient vehicles in Europe. So how does it fare on the well-worn Delhi
roads? First of all, an overall of the standard and technical specifications.
See photos here » 
z The car is currently offered as a 2 door hatchback, fully automatic with tubeless tires,
remote-controlled air conditioning, climate controlled seats and a stereo.
z Unique features include electronic regenerative brakes, maintenance free AC motor and a
unique boost mode, which offers up to 40% more power. Technical specifications include a
payload of 227 kg, a top speed of 80 km/hour and a charge time of 80% in 2.5 hours or 100%
in 8 hours.
z The integrated power system is comprised of motor (high torque (52 Nm), AC induction
motor); controller (350 Amp microprocessor based with regenerative braking); charger
(330V, 2.2 kW, high frequency switch mode type and a power pack of 8 batteries of 48V,
200 Amp-hr, lead acid batteries.
z Each battery costs approximately Rs. 5,500 (US$110). The car plugs into a standard 220V
outlet fitted in a typical household.
As you can see from the pictures, the REVA is very compact, measuring 2638 mm x 1324 mm x
1510 mm and has a curb weight of 700 kg.
The REVA is extremely easy to operate and has a power steering wheel with no clutch or gear. So
basically once you activate the battery pack and ‘electrify’ the car, you pretty much can go on auto
pilot for the remainder of your ride. It was very akin to driving a bumper car, albeit although the
REVA can move around the city at a comfortable speed of 65 km/hour, in Delhi traffic that isn’t
During our 20 minute ride which took us through suburbs, tourist area and a shopping market, we
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rarely exceeded a speed of 30 km/hr. Delhi traffic, like many urban cities in the developing world is
stop-go traffic given the congestion and construction taking place.
We have to admit that inspite of the initial hesitation that this car would be no match for the buses
and heavy commercial vehicles on the Delhi roads, we felt quite safe and the car lived up to it ad
line ‘fun to drive’. We may have looked small from the outside (many school children did point and
giggle), but certainly didn’t feel it from the inside.
The REVA is certainly not considered cheap and is not to be confused with a family car. The inner
space is enough for only 2 people and barely can carry a medium-size suitcase plus a laptop bag or
a carry-on style luggage. The seating and aesthetics deliberately appeal to the ‘urban warrior’ – a
professional, student or anyone wanting a second vehicle for the home.
The car comes in three versions starting from the standard to A/C and then top of the line Classe
model. The net price to customer (after the subsidy/exemption) ranges from Rs. 300,000 (or
US$6,100) to Rs. 389,000 (US$8,000) – price for delivery in Delhi area and a bit cheaper for
delivery in other parts of India.
This puts the REVA in a price bracket of numerous other vehicles in the small-size segment
category in India, for example, the TATA Indica, Hyundai Alto, Maruti Zen and Hyundai Santro
which are all under Rs. 400,000 (US$8,200)
The cost to run the vehicle is as follows: the REVA costs about 40 paise per kilometer to run or Rs.
40 (US$0.82) per 100 km. This is based on the battery requirement of 9 units of electricity for a full
charge and the operating cost, given factual price of 4 rupees per unit.
Over a period of five years, the savings to the customer can potentially total Rs. 220,000 (US$
4,500) when compared to the most economical petrol models available in the market today at
current fuel prices. These savings accrue due to reduced service and equipment expenses (eg. EV’s
do not have spark plugs, fan belts, and have a computer based diagnostic system) and on average, a
person saves anywhere around Rs. 4,500 or US$90 per month on gasoline bills alone.
The Competition and Marketplace:
Although road transportation accounts for 80% of passenger traffic and 60% of freight moved,
India is a hugely under motorized economy. India has 8 cars per thousand persons compared to
Malaysia 253, Mexico 135, Brazil 96, Thailand 51, Indonesia 15 and Philippines 9. Even Pakistan
and Sri Lanka have a greater penetration. Even in Delhi the penetration is only 85% cars per
Today there is no direct competitor for the REVA on the Indian market although many
manufacturers are looking to the REVA as a bellwether for the state of the EV market in India.
Toronto-based Electrovaya (TSX: EFL) and Mumbai, India's Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) have
partnered to produce the electric version of Tata’s Indica hatchback. The Indica EV is scheduled to
be launched in Norway in 2009 and India in 2010. Also Hyundai plans to launch the world’s first
hybrid vehicle (Avante) to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and the first to adopt
advanced lithium polymer batteries by 2010. Hyundai is the second-largest car manufacturer in
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India, behind Maruti Suzuki Ltd. Tata Motors Ltd. is in third place. ElectroTherm started the
vehicle division in 2006, with battery-operated bikes and plans for electric three- and four-wheeled
vehicles and hybrid-electric low-floor buses.
Since it was launched in 1999, the REVA has found some 800 customers in India, according to the
company's Delhi sales manager, mainly in the southern cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad. Notable
owners include Kapil Sibal, Union minister of state for science and technology and Bob Hoekstra,
CEO of the Philips Software Centre in Bengaluru. The company's web site says it has sold 2,000 of
The REVA has certainly won the hearts and mind of environmentally-friendly governments: the
Japanese government offers an incentive of $2,600 to anyone who buys the REVA; in the UK, a
GWiz (REVA’s local name) buyer gets 1,000 pounds in addition to a waiver for London’s
congestion tax and there are no charges for parking.
There are plans to launch a sedan version of the REVA in 2009 which according to industry
watchers will accelerate REVA’s prominence and brand in the automotive sector in India.
Currently the hatchback version, although compact and ideally suited for city-driving, needs to
overcome issues dealing with its durability, ruggedness, safety features, comfort, performance and
As the manager of the REVA dealership in Delhi summarized, ‘acceptance of the EV as a transport
option for Indian customer is the biggest hurdle to overcome’. Inspite of its overwhelming costs
advantages as compared to diesel or petrol options, the customer ‘mindset’ still associates bigger
equals betters in terms of automobile preferences. Maybe this is just a result of the ‘survival of the
fittest’ attitude that one often finds on roads in India, where a 700 kg vehicle is just not going to be
Nonetheless we’re optimistic that the REVA will rightfully take its place alongside all transport
from the soon-to-be-released TATA Nano to the ubiquitous Indian cargo trucks. An integrated eco-
transportation and management system can definitely play its role as India’s moves toward modern
mobility and sustainability achievement. As the REVA salesperson, who recently joined the
company from Porsche, said it best, ‘this is the future of transportation in India’.
About REVA: REVA Electric Car Company Private Ltd. (RECC), based in Bangalore, India, was
established in 1994 as a joint venture between the Maini Group India and AEV LLC, California
USA, to manufacture environment-friendly and cost-effective electric vehicles. The company is
backed by private investors including among others, Global Environment Fund and Draper Fisher
For more information on the REVA, visit www.revaindia.com 
Source URL: http://www.cleantech.com/news/3963/reva-ing-it-delhi
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