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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mahindra Reva e20 electric car review- Part 2

The previous post on e2o talks about looks, drive and space of Mahindra Reva e2o electric car. In this part, let us examine the other aspects


Economics of owning a Reva


Mahindra’s official website for e2o has a calculator designed to fool prospective buyers as to how much they’ll be saving if they buy an e2o. It indicates prospective saving w.r.t a petrol/diesel car, based on no of kms driven every day.
However, the M&M calculator completely ignores below costs:
  • Cost of battery: Every 5 years (claimed.. but may be need anytime in 4th year depending on battery’s real state. If battery performance deteriorates and customer gets only 20-30kms on full charge, then there’ll be no option but to buy new battery early. Battery costs 2-3 lakhs, while regular petrol/diesel car engines last over 10-15 years easily, without this bulk expense.
  • Interest cost on excessive price of Reva: An entry level petrol/diesel small car costs Rs 3-5 lakhs. If one has to pay 3-4 lakhs more for Reva compared to other small cars, the interest paid on this difference should be factored.
  • Cost of renting a cab: Since e2o can’t be used for long drives, owners will have to rent a taxi for long trips. Assuming a family goes for a 600 km trip once every 2 months, additional expense of renting a taxi instead of spending on diesel is about 6 Rs per km or 4000 Rs per trip. This adds up to about 24-25k per year. 
Hence in all probability, there won't be any net savings by buying Reva. At least not as of now. The equation may change over time once petrol becomes more expensive.
Going green!
Reva is supposed to save on emission and hence contribute to environment. I am not denying this, but there's a basic fact everyone is overlooking. Two third of India's electricity comes from coal and petroleum. Only one third or less comes from wind, water and other renewable sources of energy. So using electricity generated by burning coal to run a car and claiming to be green is unfair. For every 10kms run in Reva, only 3 kms contribute to environment.  Of course, any contribution is better than no contribution or negative contribution, hence I wouldn't question Reva's value add, but fact remains to be explained. This is also a reason that Govt giving incentives to buy this car from tax payers money isn't fully justified.

Charging
Reva takes 5 hours to charge fully and gives 100 kms range on full charge. Reva e2o needs a heavy duty socket to plug in and cable is just long enough to reach the car from the wall. If your home is in first floor or little away, you'll need extra cables. Be advised that range will come down over time as battery ages, also based on usage of AC, headlight, Boost mode etc.

With 1 unit (kWh) of power, car can go for 10kms max. Now calculate per km cost based on electricity charge in your location.


Features:
Compared to other small cars, Reva is feature rich. It comes with a  huge bundle of goodies such as

  1. A nice entertainment system, 
  2. Reverse camera with guided markings, 
  3. Regenerative braking, 
  4. GPS navigation, 
  5. Projector headlamps
  6. Very informative display console, 
  7. Push button start 
  8. Hill hold control- not very common in small cars
  9. Smart phone app to control the car like switching on AC
Reva comes in only 2 variants and even the cheaper T0 has most of the above features. Another cheaper variant could have been introduced by knocking of most of the above non essential features and thereby making the car cheaper by few lakhs. But such a move may make the car totally boring to live and drive in.



Second row space is at par with other cars, but without a door, entry and exit are the tougher part.

Just like Nano, Reva is also rear engined. Under the bonnet there's space for tyre, jack and few other mechanicals

Infrastructure:
If cars like Reva e2o are to succeed, below infrastructure support is needed on urgent basis.
  • Adequate  charging points. Malls, apartments, parks and other public places should have some parking lots set aside for electric/hybrid cars with charging points
  • Make the battery cheaper- if possible, exchangeable like a LPG cylinder- at a petrol pump or similar outlet, user should be able to give dried battery, take a charged battery and continue with his/her journey.
  • Solar cells on the roof and bonnet to charge the car- hope the cost of this won't be prohibitive.
 Read my earlier post- Promoting electric vehicles for more details

Summary: Mahindra Reva e2o is one brilliant car, with lots of innovations packed into it. The host of features and thinking that has gone into this car certainly deserve appreciation. Unfortunately the economics of owning one and impracticality caused by limited range & non available infrastructure support are two major let downs that would hamper anyone's purchase considerations. Hopefully over time these drawbacks would retreat and car gains acceptance and cost of ownership & practicality improves. Till then, good luck Reva.

Thanks to zoom for introducing this car to their fleet.

10 comments :

Athenas Take said...

Its the solution to rising petrol prices but its not cost effective for the end user. I guess only if you are a die hard fan you would buy the car or else in today's world everybody would prefer a small diesel car.

BRS said...

We have a Revai (model just before e20). It is about 2 years old now and we have very good feedback about it. IMHO, this is an excellent choice for 2nd car in any family.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

BRS: Thanks for sharing your experience. On full charge, is the range still same as it was 2 years ago or are you noticing any drop?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

AT: Agree

BRS said...

If we charge overnight and use it next day, the range is still about the same on the first day. There is a small idle discharge, so the range reduces 2nd day after charge and so on. For our usage, we typically charge once every 2 or 3 days.

WRT battery, I guess a good analogy is to extrapolate your mobile battery charging and usage cycle.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear BRS

Good to know about your experience.

Yes, mobile also Li-ion battery, so should help us set right expectations

Anonymous said...

Your comment regarding green electricity- I would like to make the point that internal combustion engines are at best 20 percent efficient, however the powerplants running coal/gas/fossil fuels have efficiencies from 39- 45% depending on plant design. so still the electricity is clean compared to running a diesel/petrol cars.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, why cant they put the positive point into the car and have a plug that can plug into it, from any electric point, that way, people don't have to worry about charging outlets. The car carries the charging point with it. Not sure about the technical limitations, but i find this a big detterent in buying electric car.

I had rented an e20 from Zoom car for a day and half way through my rental time, i had to return it to them for recharge.

They offered me my time for the rest of my booking time after recharging, but i didn't bother to use it. And trust me i had just a few km charge and was almost tensed if i would even reach Zoom Car before the charge dies out.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Anon: Yes, if they can make chargers more generic, usage will be easier, instead of having proprietary charging accessories. Like now with Android standardization, charges have same design across different brands.

How many kms did you get for full charge?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Anon: Ok, thanks for that point.