The last week of September saw a momentous alliance take place between General Motors, once the most powerful company in the world, and the Bangalore based Reva Electric Car Company. This alliance, which will see the two firms co-develop electric vehicles for the Indian market, is indicative, not only of a renewed and more flexible GM, but also, at the risk of overstating it, a new world order.
Prior to the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings for US automakers, General Motors and Chrysler, it would have been inconceivable to see a goliath such as GM partnering with a small independent firm such as Reva. And the fact that it’s happening here on Indian shores is all the more telling. Reva, of course, have persevered with electric vehicles for a decade-and-a-half – a period in which they’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise that’s about to come to very good use, as the world turns towards electric propulsion as the apparent future of the automobile.
In fact, Reva recently showcased two new models at the Frankfurt Motor Show – a first for an Indian company. And the most remarkable thing about these EVs is that they’re impressive not only under the skin, but on the surface as well – attributes that electric vehicles will clearly have to embody in equal measure if they’re to really become mainstream. And while Dilip Chhabria made the cars striking to look at, Reva packed them with some very cutting-edge technology indeed. The new Reva features highly advanced telematics that enable their customer support center to remotely extend the range of the vehicle to prevent the driver being stranded on the road – the number one concern for drivers of EVs, known as ‘range anxiety.’
In fact, largely to address the very same issue, General Motors has come up with the very innovative and highly anticipated, Chevrolet Volt, which features an electric motor that provides drive using two different sources of energy – one is a plug-in lithium-ion battery pack that propels the car on electric power alone, and the other, to prevent range anxiety, is a gasoline powered motor that acts as a generator for the electric motor when the battery loses charge, effectively making it a ‘range extender.’
Now, the Volt may be very clever, but with two power units, like a hybrid, it’s also very expensive – and that’s where Reva comes in. GM realize that there’s no time to waste this time around before jumping onto the electric car bandwagon with both hands and feet. Therefore, they want to leverage Reva technology and know-how to launch an electric version of their Spark small car in India as early as the first Quarter of next year. What’s more, they aim to ensure that the price of the car remains at comparable levels with their petrol powered versions of the same model.
When we sat down with Karl Slym, MD of GM India, a few months ago, he made it very clear that the number one priority for Indian car buyers – whether it’s someone in the market for a 2.5 lakh car or a 20 lakh car – is fuel economy. Frugality in running costs, that’s what Indian car buyers value. And we all know that every day running costs in an EV can be exceedingly low to say the least. So if Chevrolet can get the economics right, the Reva-developed electric small car could be very powerful at the end of the day.
This alliance could also conceivably give Reva the chance to use GM’s established India-wide sales and service network, which would greatly help them accelerate acceptance for their own EVs in the country – this is at a time when they’re already quite well known in the UK and Europe.
So, let’s try not think of this alliance in a small-minded way, and rejoice simply that the tables may have turned. Let’s think of it as something momentous indeed, but more in terms of it being the beginning of something far greater
Check out this link for more information about Reva car