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REVA L-ion: another option from the world's premier electric car company

Breaking News

The REVA is designed to be unique and stands out on the road as a genuine city car with a mature expression. It has all the inherent benefits of an Electric Car and is indeed a revelation in city mobility.
reva lion

by Ross Bonander

Specs:

  • Type: 100% Electric vehicle
  • Class: Heavy quadricycle
  • Manufacturer: Reva Electric Car Company
  • Propulsion system: High torque, 3 phase AC induction motor, 13kW peak
  • Top Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
  • Zero-to-60: NA
  • Vehicle range: 75 miles (120 km)
  • Fuel(s): Electricity
  • Battery system: Lithium-ion
  • Time to full battery recharge: 6 hours (90% in 1 hour with fast charge station)
  • Tailpipe emissions: No
  • Price: The REVAi lists for £7,995 ($11,300); no word yet on the REVA L-ion
  • Availability: European delivery scheduled for May 2009

The manufacturer says

”The REVA is designed to be unique and stands out on the road as a genuine city car with a mature expression. The advanced technologies used, make it highly differentiated and superior to other makes. It has all the inherent benefits of an Electric Car and is indeed a revelation in city mobility.”

The Critics Say

”RECC (Reva Electric Car Company) has demonstrated technology leadership in European markets with its ability to deliver an EV at a competitive price with sufficient performance for its intended purpose as a city commuter vehicle.” –from the 2008 Frost & Sullivan press release giving Reva the European Automotive Powertrain Company of the Year award

Overview

The REVA—known by the insufferable name G-Wiz in the UK—is India’s first electric vehicle. The original was launched way back in 2001, and since that time the Bangalore, India-based REVA has become the best-selling EV in the world. In 2008 they made a substantial change to this fully automatic two-door hatchback in the form of the REVAi, which has a lead acid battery powertrain.

A year later they announced the REVA L-ion, with a Lithium-ion powertrain. The L-ion is based on the REVAi platform, which itself is based on the platform of the original. In short, different battery pack, better performance, but otherwise pretty much the same car. Clearly REVA knows they’ve got a winner on their hands.

What we like

The customization. The manufacturer gives consumers a choice of over 2000 shades for their REVA, including colored bumpers and mirrors as well as “mixing 'n' matching … to add a personal touch.” This is clever marketing—a way of establishing true pride-of-ownership in an otherwise ho-hum vehicle.

The manufacturer gives consumers a choice of over 2000 shades for their REVA, including colored bumpers and mirrors

The upgrade kit. Those who bought the 2008 REVAi with the lead acid power train need not despair over the L-ion, as REVA is making available an upgrade kit. We don’t yet know the cost, but its availability alone says good things about this company.

The company. The REVA Electric Car Company is rare in the automotive world in that they’re short on vaporware, long on results, and they have a terrific reputation across the board, especially in R&D: in 2004 they presented a fuel cell prototype and in 2005 they presented the REVA-NXG, which employs Sodium Nickel Chloride batteries and has better specs than any other vehicle they’ve produced. In short, they’re arguably at the forefront of the microcar movement.

What we don’t

The class rating. As a quadricycle, the REVA can elude the kinds of crash tests that are part of any regulatory approval process. To their credit, the company has subjected the REVAi to frontal impact tests, which it passed, but at a top speed of 24 mph (40 km/h)—half the speed the vehicle can actually achieve. That said, they claim “42 million km driven by customers globally … with no reported serious injuries”, which if true, speaks for itself.

The class rating, part II. If the REVA makes it stateside in its current form, its speed will be reduced and it will earn the dreaded NEV label.

Conclusions

There are plenty of other players in the electric microcar arena—Th!nk City, ZENN, Buddy—but in terms of track record, resources and reliability, REVA has few true competitors, and they have an enormous assembly plant due to be finished later this year.

It’s not as though I personally want one of these things, but the REVA presents consumers with a commercially viable and mechanically reliable electric commuter car. A pair of on-board computers store data for three years, making for easy diagnosis and subsequent service within a well-established community of fellow drivers and dealers. For what it’s worth you can’t beat that.

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