Every urban Indian has one common nightmare : DRIVING. Once upon this used to be a pleasure, but then income grew, traffic grew and public transport refused to scale. Then there was pollution compounded with rising fuel costs, limited parking space and the persistent growling of badly maintained engines. From Delhi to Bengaluru, from Kolkata to Mumbai every urban Indian is today hesitant to get behind the wheel. And thats when you notice a small two seater with bright orange streaks on the body whizz through the streets. It has no exhaust emmisions and you wonder what’s under the hood. Your attention is drawn to the rear hatchback and you see the words REVA written.
The idea of a creating a new paradigm in sustainable mobility solutions using renewable energy inspired Chetan Maini to set up the Reva Electric Car Company in collaboration with California based Amerigon. Like his alma mater from Michigan, Chetan Maini started with big dreams challenging the might of automobile giants. His ‘Sun-Runner’ team finished amongst top three in the “World Solar Challenge” in Australia. The REVA electric vehicle was launched in Bangalore in 2001 and in London in 2004, (latter under the G-Wiz brand). In September 2009 at the Frankfurt Auto Show the company unveiled two new cars, the 4 seat REVA NXR and the 2 seat REVA NXG.
Another interesting aspect about the Reva is the name. It came as a suggestion from Frank Wisner the US ambassador to India who suggested that Mr Maini name it after his mother. Interestingly enough, REVA also means a ‘new beginning’ in Sanskrit. And the name stuck. You can also clearly that the Sun inspires this car in the bright orange streaks on the Reva’s body.
Today the Reva has come a great way from being just a vision. To day they have covered more than 100 million kms of user experience and have established a presence in more than 24 countries. Another major boost has been the entry of the Mahindra group who have acquired close to a 55% stake in the company based on mutual synergies and future potential that they saw in the electric car segment.
DISTINGUISHING ELEMENTS AND HOW THE REVA VARIES FROM HYBRIDS
REVA electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions. The amount of C02 generated per km varies depending on a country’s electricity generation method. When charged from a renewable energy source, for e.g. Hydroelectric source, then the emissions can be considered to be zero. This is applicable for all electric vehicles.
Hybrid cars on the other hand use two fuel sources (conventional fuel and electricity) to run the car and are fitted with an internal combustion engine. REVA’s cars don’t have the conventional internal combustion engine. REVA currently produces cars that run only on electricity since they believe that conventional fuel cars are no longer sustainable as a mobility option.
As hybrids preserve the internal combustion engine and are therefore part of the problem and unlikely to be more than an interim technology. Fuel cells are the holy grail although to date are still expensive and require a new fuelling infrastructure that would be prohibitively expensive.
For the REVA, team, battery powered electric cars are definitely the way forward, with solar and fuel cells being incorporated into the electric vehicles over time and as the technology improves to a point where they become commercially viable and effective.
THE BUZZ AND WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS
REVA is all set to launch two new models of REVA, NXR and NXG in the next few years. Both the cars were showcased unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year (2009). The cars are very different from earlier models in terms of style, features, design and technology as well.
The new REVA models will have futuristic features of keyless entry, REVive emergency charge enabled remotely to address range anxiety in customers, climate control seats, solar roof charging etc indicating a paradigm shift in technology and design architecture from the current model.
The REVA NXR is a three door, four-seater hatchback suitable for urban driving. Top speed is 104 kph (65 mph) with a range of 160 km (100 miles) per charge. If using the 90 minute fast charge (normal charging is eight hours), the REVA NXR offers an effective range of 320 km a day. A fast charge for 15 minutes will provide a 40 km (25 mile) range. Styled by Dilip Chhabria, the REVA NXG is a two-door, two-seater car with a targa top. The REVA NXG has a range of 200km (125 miles) per charge and a top speed of 130 kph (80 miles per hour).
The new models make EV’s stylish and trendy along with making them simple and fun to use.
REVA AND THE COMMUNITY
Reva for its development team at Bengaluru is not just a product but a movement. The Reva group organizes many initiatives through which they help raise environmental awareness. These include cavalcades through the city on occasions like World Environment Day. They also engage with a lot of thought leaders in the green space (including TERI and green oriented companies) to make electric vehicles a viable alternative for mobility.
Owning a Reva is not just about having the car its moving to a green lifestyle. A REVA owner’s community exists that consists of green conscious people who go the extra mile to lead less polluting lives.
Being the pioneers in electric vehicle technology, Reva has built tremendous value in Intellectual capital. They have over 10 International patents in the field of diagnostics and energy management systems for electric vehicles. To make electric cars easy to adapt REVA has developed technologically advanced batteries that improve their performance, in collaboration with battery vendors.
A Sneak Peak into how the Reva works
The REVAi is a battery operated electric vehicle that with major components as above.
- Battery pack
- On-board charger
- Energy management system (EMS)
The car stores power in the battery pack when charged using electricity. The battery pack used is a lead acid battery pack. The motor uses this power to run the car through a controller that regulates the flow of energy from the power pack to the motor in direct relation to pressure applied on the accelerator. All the vital functions for running the car smoothly are controlled by the EMS, the brain of the REVAi. The EMS is a computer based system that optimises charging and energy output of batteries to maximise operating range and improve performance. With 100% charge the REVAi delivers 80 km. Charging the REVAi is as easy as a mobile phone, by plugging the cable provided to a 15A socket.
Author: Akshad Viswanathan
Akshad works with Yahoo! Inc and completed his studies from Pune university. He loves quizzing, specifically Biz-quizzes. His other full time activity is reading, lots of it.
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