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Electric vehicles are in for a bumpy ride as automakers hesitate to take the big leap

Published 3 years ago on Jun 22, 2018 24 minutes Read

There cannot be a bigger fanatic than 37-year-old Puneite, Kamlesh Mallick. And we’re not talking about bigots here. In 2013, he bought a Mahindra e2o. For the next 12 months, he religiously blogged his daily experience with the electric vehicle (EV). “I was never a car person, I loved my cycle. But when I learnt about EVs — the technology, the magic of electrons powering the drivetrain, regenerative braking, the quiet drive — something clicked within me,” says the founder of PluginIndia, an online forum dedicated to EV enthusiasts. In the ensuing five years, the forum would end up bringing together 2,000 EV owners sharing their “electric” experience.

Sushil Sangoi, the 50-year-old founder of Maitri Information Systems, an IT company based in Bengaluru, is also an EV convert. He was among the early buyers of Reva, which was launched in 2001. Traffic in the city had already worsened, which convinced Sangoi of his purchase. “I did not see the point in buying an expensive car to drive through narrow roads.” While the first Reva cost Rs.250,000, in 2008, he upgraded to a newer model that set him back by Rs.400,000, excluding the Rs.150,000 that he got for the old car. After driving around 90,000 km over nine years, he wants to get a new one. And he’s absolutely sure it’s got to be an EV again.

It was Chetan Maini who sowed the seeds of the electric dream in India with his model, Reva, back in 2001. In late 2006, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, along with Global Environment Fund, invested $20 million in Reva. But by 2010, Maini bought out the investors and sold out himself. “I didn’t want to have a long-term (capital) limitation,” Maini was quoted when he inked a deal to sell a majority stake to Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), adding that the comfort level he enjoyed with Anand Mahindra and his vision helped him get over “the emotional hump”.

While the deal value was not disclosed, M&M picked up a 55.2% stake in Reva, and was to infuse Rs.450 million as fresh equity investment. In 2013, an upgraded version of the Reva called the e2o was launched. Maini moved out in 2016. 


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