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GM, Ford, Chrysler – Watch Out!!!

November 30, 2010

I visited Bangalore, India recently and a small car slightly bigger in size than the Smart Car caught my eye. On closer inspection, I saw the name Reva.  I had heard this name before but this was the first time I saw one on the road, which aroused my curiosity.  Reva is an all electric car manufactured by India’s Mahindra Reva (www.revaindia.com), formerly Reva Electric Car Company that was formed as a joint venture in the 1990s by Maini Group of India and AEV LLC of the U.S.  Reva has been sold since 2001 in India (as Reva, Revai, Reva L-ion), and from 2004 in London (as G-Wiz). Currently, it is sold in many European countries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REVA). General Motors, apparently  had a tie-up with Reva to build and market their Chevy Spark electric car in India (http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/gm-in-agreement-to-develop-an-electric-car-for-india/) but that deal fell-off when Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a majority stake in Reva (http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/domino-effect-in-indias-small-car-market/).

Although Reva has sold only a few thousand electric cars (most of them in Europe) since its launch in 2001, what is important to note is that a developing country like India has been thinking of zero emission cars when cars were (and still are) a luxury to the common man in India.  With the recent acquisition by Mahindra, this company has now the backing of a large auto maker in India and is firmly positioned to be a leader in electric cars.  Ironically, General Motors was a pioneer in electric cars and built EV-1 during the 1990s but decided to stop its production at the end of that decade/early 2000s, just about the time Reva began selling their cars.  Nevertheless, with the renewed thrust in producing cleaner cars (and energy as a whole) in the US and across the world, the U.S. is still better positioned to take a lead in this sector due to its far superior technological advantage than a developing country like India.  General Motors and Ford have hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, and all the three U.S. automakers do apparently have strategic plans for developing vehicles with clean energy sources; it’s just that they  got more competition now, not only from the Toyotas and Nissans but from small manufacturers across the world!.