The only manufacturer to offer an electric vehicle in the country, Mahindra Reva, isn't bogged down by the not-too-encouraging sales performance of the e2o. The company continues to invest heavily into research and development (R&D) and is waiting for government policies that would change the market for EVs in the country. In a recent interaction, Chetan Maini, Founder & CEO, Mahindra Reva spoke to us about the new fast charging technology, launch of the European version of the e2o and the company's entry into the Formula-E championship.
The Bangalore-based company recently introduced a fast charging technology on the e2o – Quick2Charge – that uses a DC fast charging station and a new smart port, which is located at the outer rear end of the car. This allows the e2o to be fully charged from very low power in less than an hour, claims the company. This smart port works in a two-way method of energy transfer to and from the car. This means that the vehicle not only gets charged through its smart port by DC or solar charging, but it can also power a home with its reserve power. This enables the car to assist customers in times of emergency power requirement.
This Quick2Charge technology took over five years to develop, said Maini. Although the core technology was developed reasonably quickly, a lot of time was spent in testing the technology and then on methods to reduce costs, he added. The cost of a Quick2Charge station is about ' 3 lakh, which is about six times lesser than similar technologies available in other countries. The main technical challenges faced during development were with regards to safety systems, integration of systems and getting the new charging stations online to be in sync with the car, Maini said.
The new charging technology includes the integration of multiple functions and software to lower costs, and in cases, just simplifying existing solutions to work in Indian conditions, Maini explained. It was important to ensure that components used for these stations were robust to counter rampant power fluctuations.
Meanwhile, the European version of the e2o is expected to be launched by the end of this year in London, followed by market launches in Norway and The Netherlands. Maini said the European version would have a few more technological features than the variant available in India. Many of these technologies will also be seen in the Indian models at a later period, Maini said.
FIA Formula E Championship
A couple of months back, Mahindra announced its intentions of competing in the FIA Formula E Championship, scheduled for September this year. It is the only Indian company to participate in the championship being held for the first time. All cars compulsorily must have the same components in the inaugural year. For the current year, Mahindra Reva is working on the strategy, optimisation of energy, good drivers and a good team, among others, Maini said. The main parts like chassis, powertrain and battery are being provided by Dallara, McLaren and Williams respectively, for the first year.
For the next season though, the company is now putting together its strategy for a complete race and engineering team. Maini talked about the company's plans to partner with global leaders in order to improve the engineering of these cars in the second year. Many of Mahindra Reva's current partners have high capabilities with regards to technologies and components concerning racing, Maini said, adding that the approach will now be about performance. The racing event is expected to push the limits of battery technology, engine management, telematics and connectivity, and powertrain systems.
The difference between a Formula E car and a regular EV is very small, when compared to that of a Formula 1 car and a regular road car, Maini said. The technologies to manage systems on formula electric cars are almost exactly the same as the ones used in regular electric cars, with technologies cross-pollinating between the two, Maini concluded.
Text: Naveen Arul