According to reports, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. plans to launch a new, sun-powered electric vehicle in India in the hope that high fuel prices will push consumers to look for new options in the car market.
The car, called e2o, runs on lithium ion batteries that allow it to travel 100 kilometers in one charge, the company said in a statement Tuesday. The vehicle, the only four-seater electric car in India, can also be solar charged, the statement said. The company will produce it at its new plant in Bangalore and plans to launch it in the market by March.
The name of the vehicle – pronounced “ee to oh” – follows the Mahindra tradition of having vehicle names ending with o (Scorpio, Bolero, Xylo, Gio, Genio). The company said the “e” in the name stands for the energy of the sun, and the “0” for oxygen.
It replaces the company’s only other electric vehicle, REVAi, a two-seater mini car.
“We have almost stopped selling the REVAi and will focus on the current product now,” Chetan Maini, founder and chief of strategy at the company’s electric car unit, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles, told India Real Time. The company hasn’t said how much the car will cost.
Electric or hybrid vehicles haven’t sold in high numbers in India primarily due to lack of infrastructure and inadequate investment by the government.
Over the next five to six years, the government plans to spend up to 138.50 billion rupees ($2.50 billion) to boost the electric car market and plans to have about five million to six million such vehicles—which includes two-wheelers, three-wheelers and small trucks apart from passenger cars—on the road.
Currently Toyota Motor sells the Prius hybrid sedan in India. A few years back Honda Motor Co. launched a hybrid version of its Civic sedan, but stopped manufacturing it soon after.
Mahindra has till date sold about 5,000 REVAi cars in India, 500 vehicles of which were sold last year, Mr. Maini said.
“The gap between the last government policy and this one has led to a slight delay in the launch of e2o…but we see definitely see positive signs ahead,” said Mr. Maini. Mahindra Reva aims to introduce two new electric vehicles in the next year and a half and two more after that, he added.