We all like to talk about the “phoren” things so much that we little care about the pioneers in our own midst.
Take Reva, for instance. Long before “green” cars became trendy in other parts of the world, a boxy electric two-seater began rolling out of a small factory in Bangalore.
The Reva was the brainchild of Chetan Maini, scion of the Maini Group, who championed the car at a time when scepticism was widespread about the viability of electric vehicles.
Today, scores of Reva electric cars can be seen tootling down Bangalore’s crowded streets. They look cute, small and are more than enough for a family of three to travel.
Reva Electric Car Co was set up in 1994 by India’s Maini Group and AEV of the United States.
It did not take off initially quite as its maker had hoped but it has blazed a trail for other electric cars — such as General Motors’ new Chevrolet Volt — which are coming into their own in an age of high oil prices. By 2001, it had built its first all electric car, just four years after Toyota Motor began selling a car that would come to define the eco-friendly auto segment, the Prius hybrid.
Developed entirely in-house, India’s first electric car was 95 percent indigenous from the start, built of lightweight steel and plastic and with fewer moving parts. It can be fully charged in seven hours by plugging into a regular 15 amp socket at home.
The fully-automatic models have a top speed of 65 km/hr and a range of 80 km, and a running cost of just 0.4 rupees/km. Just imagine! We pay through our noses today for petrol – and the equivalent would be something like Rs 4 / km, so you are getting almost a 90% cost reduction!
But its high price, nearly 25 percent more than entry-level cars, found few takers in India where low-end cars hold sway. So Maini began exporting the Reva to the United Kingdom and Europe. Besides Britain where it is branded G-Wiz, Reva is now also sold in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain and Sri Lanka. It is also being test marketed for applications such as mail trucks in Australia, Austria, Germany and the United States.
True, an electric does not mean independence from fossil fuels. But an electric car gives more (much more) bang for the buck than does an equivalent amount of gasoline – that is, the miles per gallon equivalent of an electric vehicle is much higher than that for gasoline driven cars.
I wish our central and state governments give more recognition and support to Reva and ideas such as those. Much better than giving awards to sportsmen and politicians who most of the time seem to be more interested in showing off than actually doing their job.
I say, All the best to Reva.