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Mahindra e2o Review: Mahindra Reva e2o Review: Into the Future

Mahindra Reva e2o Review: Into the Future

By Aditya Chatterjee; 18th May, 2013
Introduction

Mahindra Reva e2o Review: Into the Future

Considering the fierce competition among Indian car makers, if someone decides to challenge the trend and bring out a solution of future mobility then that someone has got guts. This “someone” is Mr.Chetan Mainim who is the founder of Reva Electric Car Company.

Mahindra e2o

Reva, the small electric car which was devised to be an affordable transport solution has seen different tides. It was revamped in 2004 and was launched as Revai. As a concept, critics liked the idea but then the things that went against it are its design, styling, performance and the backup infrastructure.

Calling the country’s largest SUV and tractor manufacturer an opportunist won’t be wrong at all. Mahindra and Mahindra did a very daring move by acquiring majority stakes in this electric car company in 2010. This decision proved that the Indian SUV maker is not only taking a step in favor of the environment but also has a broader and longer vision about its product line. Acquiring this company gives Mahindra a full access to the technology which can be later incorporated in its own models.

Mahindra e2o

Mahindra Reva, decided to refurnish the Reva with contemporary design, interiors and performance and call it the e2o. Mahindra invested around Rs.100 Cr in the e2o project and launched it at an on-road price of Rs.5.96 lakhs. We took this small on size but big on technology car for a spin to find out more.

Exterior

Many have already seen the earlier generation Reva i, which did not even look close to good. The e2o makes the earlier car look like a dinosaur with its extremely modern looks and styling. In fact, this car looks a lot funkier than other hatchbacks sold in India.

Mahindra e2o

It has a long and bold nose with the front section being very masculine. The headlights which also have projector lights flows from the radiator grille to the front wheel arc. The front face of the e2o is not much exciting. The fat bumper cheeks with minimal profile on it look bland. The radiator grille also fails to create any excitements and looks like a mast minute job with a teeny weeny Mahindra logo on it. It would have been nice if the e2o would have sported the family toothed grille seen in rest of Mahindra cars.

Mahindra e2o

The new design of e2o is a result of DC design which renovated the Revai completely. It is not just a clean car to drive but also incorporates clean technology to manufacture it. The panels on the body of the car are not painted but color impregnated which is a very innovative solution to curb pollution as painting facilities are not eco-friendly at all. The panels also claim to be scratch resistant and dent proof.

Side profile of the e2o is the place where the excitement in look begins. This is rightly put a future ready design with its climbing lines and broad stance. This has only 2 doors but then they open very wide and do provide easy ingress and egress for a normal sized individual. The quality of doors is superb and is heavy in nature. The waistline climbs up the rear and suddenly drops in line with the C-pillar. Rear passengers get a fixed glass area. The way the glass area drops and meets the tail lights is superb.

Mahindra e2o

The tall roof line travels straight and is very edgy with sharp corners. Wheel arches are nicely flared. Even the door has a characteristic design with lines climbing up. The chunky ORVMs and door handles are done in black. The multi spoke alloy wheels look sporty. The e2o is a very compact car since it is just 3280 mm long and has a wheelbase of 1958 mm but still it not look a typical pint of a hatch.

Rear profile drops down straight. It has a very catchy design with LED tail lamps. The tail lamps split the C-pillar from the rear bumper. The rear section gets divided into two zones. The glass tail door looks like the one on Brio. The only design spoiler is the panel which fits between the rear tail lamps. It not only looks tacky but also out of sync with all the lines. The rear bumper is tall and has slim reflectors on it.

Mahindra e2o

So the design of the e2o definitely strikes an impressive chord. It looks very vibrant. Ignoring the odd face, it looks impressive. The e2o would score more points than a Spark, Alto 800 etc in sheer design aspect. Also on the streets, it does manage to attract people.

Interior

First thing you notice once inside the cabin is space. This one is a lot roomy. The interiors of the e2o have been done neatly. The design lines seem to draw some inspiration from the flagship XUV500. Decent quality of plastics and a very tech-savvy information screen are among the strong positives of e2o.

Mahindra e2o

The steering wheel feels a tad big and could have been smaller. It has rotary AC cents done in aluminum finish. The instrumental panel looks ripped from a future car with its information display. Illuminated in blue, it displays gear engaged, battery charge, distance left to empty charge, speed and also the mode in which battery is being consumed. It is a complete digital arrangement. Even though it displays host of options, it is very easy to use.

Front row seats are comfortable and offer decent legroom but the same is not the case with rear passengers. For taller passengers, the rear seats are a complete nightmare. The doors are wide so getting in is easy. However, for the rear passengers it is difficult as the front seats have to be dropped to get inside. Getting outside the cabin for rear passengers is very difficult and needs considerable time.

Mahindra e2o

Also, other discomfort for the rear passengers is the absence of a moving glass as it is a fixed one. Since the window line climbs up to the rear section, the passengers might feel suffocated because of low levels of ventilation. The rear passengers have to totally rely on the air-conditioner for fresh air but then during hot summer days, it is not a very convenient place to fit in.

The AC unit does cool the cabin efficiently but its take time to go full blast. Using a Smartphone app, the AC can be timely powered on and off. This app can control a variety of operations inside the car which include indicating charge left, auto charge, charge needed to cover a particular distance, activating REVive and locking the vehicle from anywhere. These options are tremendously helpful.

Mahindra e2o

The screen mounted in the central panel is a touch screen unit. The e2o comes loaded with JBL speakers. The touch screen unit gives a complete idea of what all is the car going through. It also sends information to Mahindra Reva if there is any kind of issue/glitch in the vehicle. The company then sends a sms and alerts the driver about the necessary action.

Lot of storage options inside the cabin, and the rear boot space can easily swallow two large suitcases. The e2o does has impressive interiors and with the high end technology and gadgetry glowing in it looks like a promising car. But then how does it perform on streets and is it a convenient medium of transport or is it otherwise? We find it in our performance section.

 Mahindra e2o

Performance

It takes time to realize that the vehicle will actually move especially if you are used to the grunts and grows of fossil fueled cars. The process is very simple, touch the key to the Start/Stop button and as soon as the system is ready there is a green light meaning the vehicle is ready.

Mahindra e2o

You can barely hear any noise other than the tyre noise when the vehicle moves. This has an automatic transmission with two drive modes. The F mode is the intelligent mode which uses the battery efficiently but is low on performance. The B mode gives extra boost which is needed on open roads or during tight overtaking maneuvers. The only obvious drawback of the B mode is drain in power.

The e2o is powered by a 3 Phase Induction Motor which produces 19 kW power at 3750 rpm and a torque of 53Nm at a range of 0-3400 rpm. It has a special 48V Lithium-ion battery pack. It takes 5 hours to charge the battery completely and Mahindra claims that the car can travel a distance of close to 100 Kms at full charge and also can travel at a maximum speed of 80Kms/hr.

Mahindra e2o

When we got the car, our camera man stared at the car for some time. He was looking for a convenient space to dump in his equipment. Since we had some friends with us, the rear passenger seats got occupied. We made sure that the hatchback sized passengers are thrown in the rear section while the larger dimensioned ones (like me) get the front row.

After completing the initialization, we were rolling in a car which made no noise. It was just the AC motor noise which was audible. Seeing the trees, cars and people pass by it was proved that we indeed were moving ahead. In the beginning, the motor is slow and is barely trailing ahead but then once it crosses 40-50Kmph mark the vehicle gets stable on the streets.

Mahindra e2o

The initial lag can be an issue in tight traffic as it takes time to make up with the rest. I could hear buses, cars and others honking behind me and pleading me to move aside. But then the embarrassment was not for too long as there was a B etched on the transmission stick. Shift it to B and there is improvement in performance. We called it the Big Boost mode as this mode is a total savior. In this mode, the car becomes comparatively faster and gets very zippy across corners. We were having fun time shooting the e2o as it did take corners impressively. Considering it is an electric car the performance was decent.

Mahindra e2o

This one doesn’t have a power steering as it is reasonably lighter. It has a turning radius of 3.9m making it a very convenient option during travelling in by lanes and markets.

There is a charging cable with the vehicle which can be plugged inside a regular 3 pin socket inside mall parking. The company also offers an option of Solar cell charging parking for an additional Rs.1lakh and a battery storage option for an addition Rs.50,000. Mahindra also offers a special installation from the flat’s electricity meter to the parking for charging purpose. All these options are helpful but then are not very convenient.

Mahindra e2o

The suspension quality is good with McPherson struts for the front and gas shock absorbers for the rear. The e2o makes uses of regenerative braking technology which means each time you brake, it converts that into electric charge and sends it to the battery. This feature is very good especially in traffic conditions where brake is pressed often.

Now what does not work well in favor of e2o is its charging. It gets very difficult to find charging points and in dense traffic jams with the AC ON, the battery goes down very easily. Mahindra is making a network of charging points in different cities but then this system will be effective only when there are lots of them as currently when the battery goes down, the panic level increases. Though there is an option of activating the reserve charge via the mobile app but the reserve charge won’t take you for long.

Mahindra e2o

 The e2o is an important product for sure but then we guess the company should have gone easy with features inside the vehicle to curb costs. The best examples for this are projector lamps which even a Duster (double the price of an e2o) does not have. The ORVMs are very big and heavy which is the same with doors as well. A vehicle can be made safe without making it too heavy. JBL speakers and tweeters, touch screen infotainment system. Sans this and there could have been a better pricing point. 

Mahindra e2o

Tech specs
Technical Specifications
 Make Mahindra Reva
 Model e2o
Variant T2
Type 2 Door hatchback
Seating Capacity 4
Motor 3 Phase  Induction Motor
Power in KW/RPM 19/3750
Torque Nm/RPM 53/3400
Battery 48V  Mantenance free Lithium ion
Steering Mechanism Rack and Pinion
Transmisson Fully Automatic
Dimensions in mm
Length 3280
Width 1514
Height 1560
Wheel base 1958
Ground clearance 180
Turning radius 3.9M
Kerb weight 830 Kg
Top speed  81 KMPH
Range  100KM in one full charge
Charging time 5 Hours 
Features
Features T0 T2
Price (Ex Show room Mumbai) 670808 705054
No Tail pipe emissions Yes Yes
Regenerative braking Yes Yes
Pre coloured body panels Yes Yes
Automatic drive Yes Yes
Easy home charging Yes Yes
Driving range using GPS navigation Yes Yes
Home servicing once in a year Yes Yes
Hill Hold Yes Yes
Remote Lock/Unlock Yes Yes
Remote AC Operation Yes Yes
Revive tech Yes Yes
Remote diagnostic Yes Yes
Reva Apps store Yes Yes
Intelligent IEMS System Yes Yes
Driver information system Yes Yes
Safe Mode Yes Yes
Charge from Solar Energy Yes Yes
Infotainment system No Yes
CD/DVD/MP3 No Yes
AUX/USB/Micro SD No Yes
Bluetooth No Yes
High end JBL music system No Yes
Conclusion

If I already have a car and need a smaller, smarter and effective way or travelling without burning a hole in my pocket I can opt for en e2o. The e2o is a perfect home to market solution. Also, it is a car which parents would like their children to drive as it is very easy on maintenance and zero fuel costs. I wonder how many college going guys would like to drive one of these especially if they are big petrol heads.

The e2o scores massively over some regions. It is a clean car to drive around. There is no stress for first time drivers as the body panels are scratch resistant and dent proof. The panels aren’t painted but are color impregnated. Even in the technological front, the e2o is very advanced as it takes smart applications to a different level.

Mahindra e2o

Using the SmartMobile App, the AC can be scheduled to switch ON/OFF. This app also helps lock the car along with checking the distance left to empty charge. One can also plan a trip using navigation and the app can advise the exact distance the car can travel without charging and where it would need charge. The charging period can also be scheduled. But the best feature of them all is the REVive wherein the mobile sends a message and the reserve power is activated remotely.

The hurdles which lie on front of the e2o are long charging periods. It takes 5 hours to charge the battery completely. Though the company claims 100 kms to a full charge, realistically we got close to 80Kms. Another issue is charging the e2o. Cities like Mumbai have high rise buildings with packed parking lots. In such a scenario, making a solar panel parking is not convenient. One has to be careful while parking the e2o also every trip has to be planned well in advance which is very stressful.

Mahindra e2o

Mahindra claims that the e2o will help make a saving of Rs.85,000 annually compared to a petrol car for a monthly running of 1200 Kms. It would be interesting to compare the cost of ownership of the e2o versus a conventional petrol hatchback. If a mid variant affordable hatch is bought and the difference in its price compared that e2o’s is equaled to the fuel filled in the hatch, the conventional hatch can travel for 3 years without a refill. This is on an assumption that the hatch gives a mileage of 12-13kmpl.

One side of it is the range is low but then what if the e2o has a small petrol engine. I am aware that it would go against the no tail pipe - no emission theory of the e2o but then hypothetically, pint 500-600cc petrol motor can increase its practicality. The motor will come into action when the vehicle runs low on charge. This won’t make it an EV but enter the hybrid vehicle category. The plus side of it is this one would have comparatively lower emissions than the conventional cars and also had been an affordable hybrid.

Everything said and done, it is commendable that Mahindra dared to pull this off. The initial booking numbers have not been good and the e2o faced luke warm response. However, it is too early to comment. It is no doubt that fossil fuels are fast depleting and we are leaving no efforts in making sure it gets exhausted soon. Alternative fuels won’t be an optional fuel but a mundane fuel of the future. This technology will evolve with time and Mahindra’s state-of-the-art facility is doing a great job. Let’s hope this picture is not just a myth but happens in real.

Mahindra e2o