The increasing fuel costs and the damages to the environment caused by the polluting gases in the exhausts of the conventional vehicles using hydrocarbon fuels have led to new thinking among the automobile manufacturers. More research is carried out on vehicles running with alternate power like electric power, solar energy, bio-gas and hydrogen. The demand for these green vehicles using alternate power is steadily increasing worldwide.
An attempt to produce electric cars in India was started with the formation of the Reva Electric Car Company in 1994 and the launching of the Reva in 2001. A revamped model Reva-i launched in 2008 run on lead acid batteries. The Reva L-ion unveiled in 2009 with Lithium battery could run for 120 km without recharging. The 2 seater Reva NXG was show-cased in 2005 and the Reva NXR in 2009.
The Indian auto mobile company Mahindra and Mahindra took over the Reva Electric Company in 2010 and a company named the Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Private Limited was formed. The Mahindra Reva launched the hatchback e20 in March 2013 which is based on the Reva L-ion. The e20 comes in 2 variants T0 and T2 priced at Rupees 5.81 and 6.09 lakh respectively and are the only two electric cars available now. The battery needs 5 hours to charge fully from a 220V source.
The exterior of the Mahindra e20 has projector type clear lens head lamps, LED tail lamps, body coloured bumpers, electric ORVMs and an antenna on top. The spacious 2 door 2 row cabins have an automatic AC, a keyless start, an engine immobilizer, power windows and power steering. The T2 variant has a music system, Bluetooth connectivity for telephony, one touch screen and a GPS navigational system. This 3280 mm long car has McPherson strut type suspension at the front and the gas filled shock absorbers with coil springs at the rear.
The Hyundai i10 Electric using a 49 kWh motor is another electric car unveiled during 2010 auto expo. The 16 kWh Lithium polymer battery can last 160 km with single charge. The top speed will be 130 kmph and the battery can be fully recharged in 5 hours. The 3565 mm long i10 electric will have McPherson strut with stabiliser at both the ends. The Expected price will be less than Rupees 5 lakh and the launching date is still not clear.
Instead of pure electric cars attempts have been made in the past to bring some hybrid vehicles to India like the hybrid Honda City, the Toyota Prius hybrid and the Toyota Camry hybrid. But because of their high prices there have been no takers. The Tata Megapixel is another hybrid expected to be launched in 2014.