The first major all-electric offering by a mass market manufacturer in India came on Monday, when Mahindra and Mahindra launched the latest model of the erstwhile Reva, the ‘e2o’, at a price of Rs. 5.96 lakh (on road Delhi).
This is over Rs. 150,000 more expensive than the previous Reva. On the other hand, the e2o is more spacious and promises a better range on a full charge than old models.
In the first phase of operations, the e2o will be offered only in eight cities. It can cover 100 kilometers on a six-hour full charge of about 10 units of electricity from a normal household plug point.
Though the Reva has been around for over a decade now, it has found only 2,500 customers so far — 300 of them in Delhi. Anxiety over the vehicle’s range, a lack of sophistication and charging irritants have been major deterrents for buyers.
Mahindra, however, is hopeful that the tipping point for Indian consumers to veer towards electric cars is closer.
“We are not selling a car here, but changing lifestyles,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group. “This is frugal world class innovation. We are asking people to consider living in a different world... to move to a new way of mobility.”
“The tipping point will soon come and it will come in India and China,” he added.
The two-door four seater car still faces many of the questions that plagued its predecessors. Space remains a premium, and at the price, one can get a good sedan. Recharging is not as convenient as re-fuelling a conventional car, and a 100-kilometre range virtually rules out highway driving.
The e2o has a lot of frills, though: GPS, keyless entry, start/stop button and regenerative braking (which uses braking energy to charge the battery). The gearless, clutchless automatic car has an unbeatable running cost of just Rs. 0.5 per kilometer.
“We are not in the business of chasing unviable projects,” Mahindra said. “There is argument in favour of this car purely on economics, but it goes beyond that. I am sure there are people willing to pay extra over a conventional car for something that is as environment friendly as this.”
The Delhi government offers a 29% subsidy on electric vehicles — the maximum in India, which means that its price is the lowest in the capital. Mahindra hopes to sell 400-500 units every month.