Family-owned Reva Electric Car is building a new factory 25 miles (40 km) south of its Bangalore headquarters to mass-produce the Reva hatchback, a two-passenger city car priced at little over $12,000 that the company has been selling in India and Europe since 2001. When production begins next January, the new factory will be the world's largest for low-cost electric cars; annual capacity is expected to hit 30,000 cars within three years. "The opportunity today is very high," says Chetan Maini, Reva's vice chairman and chief
The Indian company, however, aims to leverage low production costs to build simple, cheap vehicles and sell them in India, Europe and, within five years, the U.S. The Reva, branded the G-Wiz in Europe, costs about $12,200 there and about $7,000 in India. The pint-size commuter vehicles are powered by lead-acid batteries, which provide about 50 miles (80 km) of driving per charge. Top speed is about 50 m.p.h.
The cars haven't exactly taken the world by storm. Reva — which has received venture capital from Draper Fisher Jurveston, the Global Environment Fund and Mellon HBV Master Global Event Drive Fund — has sold only 3,000 cars over the past eight years. Half of those have been exported to Europe, mainly to London.
But Reva officials say they are improving their cars and plan to sell 8,000 vehicles next year after the new factory opens. In May, the company began equipping Revas with more-powerful lithium-ion batteries that increase range to 75 miles (120 km). A new model with sportier looks and upgraded electronics is expected to be launched by 2010.