A cheap electric car, at least by American standards, that doesn’t feel and act like an over-glorified golf cart? That’s the word out of India, where Mahindra Reva this week unveiled a rather sharp looking, four-seater electric car known as Mahindra e2o. The vehicle has been under development for some time, and its pubic debut trails on an announcement made about it back in late January.
The Mahindra e2o, according to its maker, will price at Rs.5.96 lakhs for the base model, or just under $11,000 US. It will offer up a driving range around 60 miles, or 100 km, which should be adequate for most daily driving needs. It will be able to charge like most other EVs from a home outlet and will also be able to be charged from the power of the sun via being parked under an array of small solar panels.
Seen as an urban mobility solution which fits well in the tight population centers of India’s large cities, this electric car is powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 3-phase induction electric motor. Regenerative braking helps to extend battery life via adding juice back to the car when one brakes or slows down.
The Mahindra offering, for its low price, comes quite loaded with an array of technological features. It makes use of a smartphone application, for example, that lets one remotely lock the car or start its air conditioning. A trip planning function of this app also smartly integrates the distance to empty information from the Mahindra e2o into the maps to help plan each journey with the current charge. There’s even an option to fire up a reserve energy charge via your phone if the EV needs it.
Inside the cabin the technology train continues with a 6.2 inch touchscreen, outfitted with a GPS navigation system, radio, DVD, Blue tooth and iPod connectivity. Sitting near it is a full digital cluster driver information display. Also of note are electrically operated wing mirrors, keyless entry & start/stop button, projector head lamps, LED tail lamps, reverse camera and four JBL speakers & two tweeters for audio enjoyment.
Safety also seems to be something the designers considered as they put together the e2o. Items here include special ABS body panels, a steel body frame, child seat mount and dual side impact beams. It will be available in India in six body colors, and there’s no word if it will be sold in Europe or North America.
The question here is – what can American and European automakers take away from this? At the minimum, the idea that if a nation such as India can develop an inexpensive, mass market electric car that’s got good range, nice features and doesn’t feel like something better off on the 18th hole, why can’t the rest of us do the same?