Over the last few years there is no doubt that motor companies such as Ford have lost their competitive edge in the industry due to their relatively slow reaction to the growth in demand for electric vehicles. The Reva Electric Car Company is a prime example of a new up-and-coming electric car manufacture which has ridden the wave of demand for these vehicles. So what do we know about the Reva Car Company and what does it have to offer? Reva Electric Car Company
Initially the Reva Electric Car Company was a joint venture formed by Maini Group of India and AEV LLC of California. The funding for the venture came from a mixture of US investors and ethical investment companies. However there have been changes to the makeup of the company over the last few days and the outlook is very different to that when the company was formed. On 26 May 2010 it was confirmed that India's largest sports, utility and tractor maker Mahindra & Mahindra had agreed terms to take a 55.2% stake in the business. It looks as though the initial backers of the group have bailed out with speculation that the US$100 million value placed upon the group is well in excess of the funds invested at inception.
How has the Reva Electric Car Company performed in the marketplace?
The Reva Electric Car Company has certainly hit the ground running with regards to electric vehicles and has made a very good name for itself in a very short space of time. There are a number of different vehicles available today which include:-
Initially the REVAi was simply named the REVA but as the company began to expand and introduced new vehicles to the marketplace the name was amended. Rather bizarrely, the same vehicle is known as the Reva G-Wiz i in the UK where it has been on sale since 2003 after originally being introduced into the Indian market in 2001 - although it had been in production and design since prior to 1998.
The REVAi is a relatively small three door hatchback which is just over 2.6 m in length, 1.3 m in width and 1.5 m high. The maximum weight which the vehicle can hold is 270 kg and there is space for luggage with the back seats folding down to accommodate this. It is classed as a heavy quadricyle in the UK and a neighbourhood electric vehicle in the US where speed limits of 25 mph are regularly in use.
The design and structure of the initial REVAi model has to be amended to take into account various crash tests introduced after the vehicle was designed and manufactured. Initially the vehicle was powered by a 400 amp motor controller connected to a DC motor rated a 4.8 kW with a maximum 15.1 kW output. The eight batteries used to power the vehicle were located in the front seats and out of sight. The top speed for the vehicle is around 80 km/h with a range of 80 km per charge.
Revamp in 2008
A revamped model of the REVAi was released in January 2008 which included an improved "boost system" for improved acceleration and hill climbing. However, it was the introduction of new safety measures which caught the eye of consumers around Europe and the UK leading to an increase in reliability and reputation for a vehicle which is still well respected today.
Revamp in 2009
As the technology connected with electric cars, specifically battery-power, continued to improve in leaps and bounds we saw the release of the latest version of the REVAi in January 2009, known as the REVA L-ion. As the name suggests, this vehicle takes on the latest high-performance lithium ion batteries which reduced the vehicle's weight from 665 kg to 565 kg thereby increasing efficiency and durability. Charging time is now down to six hours and the vehicle has a range of 120 km which is a 50% increase on the early models.
It is interesting to see that this particular vehicle accommodates an onboard battery charger as well as an off board charging station connection. There is also a solar panel being built into the car's roof which utilises the energy of the sun during appropriate weather conditions.
In the UK a REVA L-ion will set you back around £9,995, US$13,000 in America, US$12,000 in Chile and around INR 350,000 in India.
During the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show we so Reva unveil the next model to hit the showrooms in the shape of the REVA NXR. While shipping of the vehicle is unlikely to begin before the second quarter of 2010 it is known that the vehicle will be powered by either lead acid or lithium ion batteries which are very efficient and offer an extended range for the vehicle. The top speed on the intercity model is expected to be around 65 mph with a vehicle like this able to cover a range of up to 160 km on a single charge.
This vehicle itself looks more like a "traditional car" than the earlier Reva models with more investment going into the design and look of the vehicle as opposed to just the engine and the power system. The company has introduced various backup systems to ensure that depleted batteries can be analysed by the company itself using a Telematic remote access system and advice given on the road.
The REVA NXG was also introduced at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and while this much awaited two seater sports car is expected to show an increase in speed, performance and durability it is unlikely to be in production before 2011. Therefore we may well see a number of new developments introduced to this particular model before it arrives in the marketplace, with many electric car enthusiasts licking their lips at the thought of owning one.
The future for the Reva Electric Car Company
When the Reva Electric Car Company was initially created there was relatively little demand for electric vehicles around the world. However, over last decade we have seen a massive increase in the number of electric vehicles sold in Europe and other areas of the world. The very fact that the original Reva Electric Car Company investors were recently able to bail out at a significant profit, despite the fact the company has yet to make a profit itself, is a perfect reflection of the potential for the future.
There may be some short-term disruption to the structure of the company due to the fact that the introduction of Mahindra & Mahindra to the mix (after taking a majority stake) could disrupt earlier partnership collaboration agreements with the likes of General Motors. However, such is the potential size of the market in the future that the likes of General Motors are unlikely to cut all ties with an up-and-coming company such as Reva. The various forms of the Reva electric car are sold in 24 different countries around the world with the company's Bangalore plant now producing in excess of 30,000 units per annum.
The backing of Mahindra & Mahindra
While the introduction of Indian car manufacture Mahindra & Mahindra has caused some short-term confusion regarding the immediate direction of the company and its structure, Mahindra & Mahindra is worth in excess of US$6 billion and offers the firepower and credibility required for Reva to remain one of the prominent names in the electric car industry of the future.
It was interesting to see that Mahindra & Mahindra has already agreed to invest a further US$10 million into the operation which again shows the potential for the electric car in the months and years ahead.
Why is Reva so popular?
Companies such as Reva were created when demand for electric vehicles was relatively low around the world and indeed many people believed they would never gain acceptance with the wider motor owning public. However, there have been massive changes in the efficiency of electric vehicles, their reputation and indeed their standing in the motor world. Gone are the days when you could actually spot an electric car from 100 miles away, with many vehicles looking more fashionable in design than many "traditional" cars on the road today. After the initial massive investment into electric vehicle technology we are now seeing more focus on the actual design and structure of the vehicles as well as further investment in the technology itself.
It is also interesting to see that more governments around the world are now looking to introduce electric car charging points as a means of cutting back on harmful emissions from traditional petrol powered cars. London has become one of the focal points of the electric car market due in the main to the various electric car charging initiatives announced by the current Mayor of London Boris Johnson. As a sidenote, many of the lighter and smaller electric cars available today are exempt from the London congestion charge which can be costly for those entering the capital on a regular basis.
Is this a new era for the electric car market?
The very fact that major car manufacturers such as General Motors, Ford, etc. are now looking to take more interest in the electric car market is a perfect reflection of the future of worldwide motoring. During the credit crunch and resulting recession around the world we saw the cost of running a vehicle on traditional fuel increase dramatically as the price of oil fluctuated at a time when many household incomes were under pressure. As a consequence, many motoring experts believe that the electric car market is again set for liftoff and as the technology and performance continue to improve on an ongoing basis the future looks bright.
Historically car drivers were notoriously blasé about the electric car market but with the price of oil continuing to creep higher, albeit still very volatile, petrol seems to increase in price on a monthly basis and many motorists are now prepared to look elsewhere. The introduction of various tax breaks and incentives to convert to electric cars, and more fuel-efficient vehicles, is something we are set to see more of in the future. At the end of the day money talks and the electric car is becoming more and more attractive to more and more people.
The Reva Electric Car Company has become one of the best known names in the electric car market with vehicles now on sale in 24 countries. Even though the company has been relatively successful so fast it is the ability to push ahead with new technologies and new designs which is keeping the company's name in the headlines and increasing its popularity. The forthcoming introduction of an electric powered sports car will allow the company to move into a new market which is potentially high margin and will fund future projects.
The very fact that Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India's best-known car manufacturers, has taken a majority stake in the operation is something of an official seal of acceptance for the company. When you also consider that the initial investors were allowed to bail out at a significant profit it shows how far the company has come in a relatively short space of time. However, many believe that with the backing of Mahindra & Mahindra and connections already made in the industry, the future of Reva has never been more promising.
It is the innovation and forward-looking strategies of companies such as Reva, and the company's initial band of investors, which has in some ways brought the electric car market to a much wider audience. The company's ability to improve the efficiency of its cars on an ongoing basis is something which allows motorists to take advantage of the latest battery technology and the latest engine technology. There is no doubt that the worldwide electric car market will at some stage receive an official seal of approval from various governments, at which point companies such as Reva will again be able to step up to the mark and give consumers exactly what they want.