Mumbai: India’s only electric car maker, Reva Electric Car Co. Pvt. Ltd, is reworking its product line with two new models planned for launch over the next two years to tap a growing market for eco-friendly motoring alternatives, particularly in developed economies such as Europe and the US.
The Bangalore-based firm is developing a new two-door, roomier car designed to seat four adults, against the two adults in front and two children in the back the current model accommodates. The new model is expected to be ready for launch by end-2009.
Reva is also in advanced trials for a new lithium ion battery to replace the lead acid batteries that its cars are fitted with. “Deliveries of the first cars fitted with lithium ion batteries will commence by May,” said R. Chandramouli, president of sales and marketing at the company.
The company is also working on a four-door, entry-level car that it hopes to launch by the end of 2010, said a person close to the development who didn’t want to be named. In India, the car will compete with products such as the 800 model from Maruti Suzuki India Ltd and Santro from Hyundai Motor India Ltd. Other car makers such as Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. are expected to launch new small cars in India beginning 2010.
On Wednesday, Reva Electric Car announced a tie-up with Reliance Digital, the electronics unit of the retailer, to drive sales of its cars in India.
Reva’s new launch plans dovetail with a global economic slowdown, greater environmental awareness and fluctuating oil prices that are moving customers in advanced economies from large, gas-guzzling vehicles to smaller, more energy-efficient cars.
The lithium ion battery, currently being tested on Reva cars that are on a cross-country Kashmir-to-Kanyakumari journey, can be charged within an hour using fast chargers and run for up to 120km on a single charge. The existing batteries take up to 8 hours to charge and deliver 80km to a single charge. Additionally, the new batteries will weigh about half of the 250kg that the lead batteries do. The current weight accounts for one-third of the car’s total weight.
Reva Electric, which exports its car to 13 countries, expects the new battery to drive sales, especially in Europe, where demand for smaller cars that are environment-friendly and cheaper to run is growing.
The new batteries, however, won’t be cheap and at Rs3 lakh a piece, will put the car in the Rs7-8 lakh bracket, at the bottom of the executive-class petrol sedan segment.
“For individuals, the price can be on the higher side and so we will offer it as a technology option to them (lead acid or lithium ion batteries). We expect fleet owners and car clubs to buy it in Europe,” Chandramouli said.