Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reva E2O test-drive

Few weeks ago, I test-drove an Mahindra Reva E2O and this is based on a True story... :)
I have been long wishing to get my hands on a EV (Electric Vehicle). I recently had this wish of mine fulfilled, albeit partly...read on.

Quick pointers for those of you who are not aware of Reva:
1) Reva is the only EV completely manufactured in India!
2) Reva was Maini group's flagship vehicle, until Mahindra group acquired them and rechristened it as Mahindra Reva. Details @ their website.

At the very onset, I would like to Thank Reva team for providing me an Reva E2O vehicle to test drive.

Reva E2O
My Reva contact, a very courteous & friendly guy gave me a quick 5-min explanation about the basics, control, etc and I was left in-charge of the test-drive vehicle - an Sunfire Yellow coloured Reva E2O-T2 model.

Here is my take of my experience.
Exteriors: Impressive, well designed with 6 eye catching colour options.
Interiors: Dashboard nicely done in blue light was very informative.
The control-knob to control the infotainment dashboard needs a bit of getting used to(the wear & tear of usage reflect on its responsiveness).
I didn't use the Bluetooth & SatNav options. Hence I wouldn't comment on those.
Look-and-feel is decent, but for its cost (more on this later) the finish & quality needs a bit more premium feel.
Pick up: Very good; I was particularly impressed by its pulling power.
Handling: Shock-absorbers were a bit stiff and given the uneven/unfinished (Indian) road, shocks were directly felt by the riders. This was more so for the back-seat riders. Definitely one of its low points.
Cost: With an 7.81L on-road (Bangalore) price, the cost is Prohibitive! According to me, Mahindra should have priced it a bit lower to entice more takers.
Seating: Spacious for 4 adults.
Mileage: Impressive 100 Kms/charge claimed, which I agree since I did manage to get 94KMs (with some charge remaining) from my test-drive vehicle.
Charging: A charm to fully charge in less than 4 hrs, one of its biggest asset.
Power Steering: Absent.
Driving: With automatic steering and only 2 (accelerator & brake) pedals to manage, its a dream-come-true for the typical urban stop-and-go type of driving. Ladies and aged drivers should also find their calling with this type of driving. I liked it all the more given the fact, I've always been a vocal proponent of automatic vehicles in urban driving conditions.

In conversation:
Before going down this road of owning an EV, I tried to understand the mindset of what people around me thought about it. Obviously there were 2 set of people.

As was expected this set of people were not aware of such an alternative mode of transport, let alone an pure Indian offering in that.
Few skeptics argued about electricity not being really being an clean alternative, given the fact that most of the electricity plants in India are coal-based. My answer to them was, despite electricity source being coal based, Reva had ZERO emission...no air pollutants. Isn't that a positive step in the right direction? Also in the near future, India is going to use nuclear fuel for electricity generation - comparatively better I say(leaving the nuclear safety discussion for another day & time).
As part of their expansion plan for Reva, Mahindra also plans to use solar energy for their soon-to-be launched recharging station network. Now that would be another feather on their cap...and also a good use of one thing we've ample & free in India - sunlight :)
Another point against Reva was the limitation it "imposed" for owners not being able to travel beyond 100KMs/charge. This definitely was true and as mentioned above Mahindra is planning to create and extend its recharging network. So for now Reva owners will need to plan their travel more meticulously than their fossil-fuel based peers.
On knowing the cost of the vehicle, some voraciously argued how comparatively they can go for "better & bigger" non-EVs. I rest my case!

These are Reva aware people.
Given the escalating fuel prices, they were receptive to the idea of change.
Another enabling factor was the thought of holding an higher moral ground (regarding emissions) appealed to them too ;)
Their biggest discouragement or let down was undoubtedly the cost factor.
Way forward:
Mahindra needs to boost their support offering, specially their charging network(which I understand they are working on to expand). This should translate in more sales & see more traction in terms of a bigger user-base.
IMHO Mahindra should also advertise & brand Reva more aggressively and also re-look at their price factor to sweeten their deal.

Overall I'm impressed by the offering but as mentioned above price is prohibitive.
Adding on to this misery is the fact that no govt tax subsidies exist for owning an EV, would-be owners need to give it a definite & serious thought.

Back to me, owning an Reva E2O is on hold (for now).
Alternatively though I've decided to pick-up an 2nd hand Reva-i (look-out for my post if I get one ;).

On a parting note:- Drive Safe. Don't Honk. Use low beam at night. Go Green!


Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid post and I don't own this vehicle...yet ;)