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April 8, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: INDIA: Reva-GM e-Spark on schedule

Indian electric car maker Reva's project with the local General Motors unit is on time and the electric version of the popular Chevrolet Spark should be ready by the end of this year, a top executive told just-auto.

Indian electric car maker Reva’s project with the local General Motors unit is on time and the electric version of the popular Chevrolet Spark should be ready by the end of this year, a top executive told just-auto.

“The GM project is on schedule and we are likely to be ready with a pilot version of the e-Spark by the end of 2010,” Reva deputy chairman Chetan Maini said on the sidelines of the All India Management Association awards in New Delhi.

The e-Spark is GM’s bold move into the Indian battery electric vehicle segment and will be the first four-door passenger electric vehicle sold here. The commercial launch is scheduled for early next year.

“The model likely will be launched in the Indian market in the first quarter of 2011,” Maini said, adding it would be manufactured at GM’s Talegaon factory in Pune (its second, opened in 2008).

Asked about initial capacity allocated by GM for the Spark EV, Maini said: “GM would manufacture 5,000 units annually of e-Spark initially.”

Meanwhile, there has been speculation locally that Reva might off-load equity in favour of utility vehicle specialist Mahindra & Mahindra or may agree some kind of strategic alliance with M&M for rolling out new models.

Maini declined to comment on that, however.

“I do not want to comment on market speculation, though we are looking at all sorts of options for raising funds.”

Market sources said the Global Environment Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson jointly invested US$25m in Reva in 2006 but are now keen to exit the company. Reval also has an alliance with US-based Bannon Auto to make cars in New York state but local government financial support has not materialised.

Reva itself is building a new 30,000-units a year plant at Bommasandra in Bangalore scheduled to commence operations by the end of this year.

“We are planning to manufacture about 5,000 – 7,000 units initially,” Maini revealed.

Reva showed two new self-developed EVs called the NXR and NXG at the Frankfurt motor show last year.

“NXR would likely hit the Indian market at the end of 2010, while NXG will be launched sometime in 2011,” Maini said.

Reva launched its first electric cars in 1991 and has sold about 3,500 units to date, mostly in Bangalore with initial exports to the UK.

Its EVs are now sold in over 20 countries, including Europe and Asia, Central and South America.

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