General Motors’ Indian subsidiary signed an agreement today with Bangalore-based Reva Electric Car Company (RECC) to jointly develop and produce electric vehicles for the Indian market. They hope to be able to produce one for sale by next year.
The two companies said the plan is to make India a hub for environment-friendly vehicles.
RECC is already making and selling electric cars for both the domestic and export markets. And, it says other domestic car makers have approached it for a similar agreement. “Nothing has been finalised,” said Chetan Maini, deputy chairman and chief technology officer of RECC.
Maini was speaking on the sidelines of the signing event. The partnership will help GM, India build Chevrolet-badged electric cars for the domestic market. Its entry compact car, Spark, will be the first Chevy model to use the electric drive train of Reva. Officials say even the other small car models like the U-VA and the soon-to-be-launched Beat will benefit from this collaboration.
“Electric car technology is fast growing in the domestic market, primarily due to government support. By this agreement signed today, we hope to get the first mover advantage in the consumer’s minds,” said Karl Slym, president and managing director of GM India.
GM sells around 40,000 units of the Spark every year. Company officials say an additional 10-15 per cent of Spark units would be manufactured as electric cars sporting both the older lead acid battery and the new lithium battery technology. “Further, we would offer a third version of battery technology which is an advanced derivative of the lithium battery ,” says Maini. Electric Spark cars will be available in a year’s time and will be manufactured in GM’s Halol and Talegaon facilities.
A lead acid battery offers a driving range of around 80 km on a single charge, while the advanced lithium battery pack enables the car to travel over 120 km. The price of the electric Spark was not announced today. Generally, electric cars powered by lithium batteries are twice the cost of a petrol model. That is because the lithium battery fitted in the car would have to be imported and costs over Rs 3 lakh.
The agreement signed today will broadly entail GM paying Reva a royalty fee for each electric car it manufactures. Company officials from both sides said the details were still not final.
“We are going to work closely with the central and state governments in India to develop infrastructure for electric vehicles’ charging and providing specific financial benefits to consumers who make the choice to adopt an environment-friendly mode of personal transport,” Slym said.