The "I" in the name suggests that the battery-powered car is an improved version and when you read the specs, it does seem slightly better. It can run for 80 kilometres on a single charge now, against 40 km earlier and can hit a top speed of 80 km per hour, i.e., double the earlier figure. These changes have been brought about by tweaking the battery system and using "regenerative" charging technologies like in hybrid cars where energy from braking also charges the battery. While Reva Electric Car Company (RECC), the makers of the Reva, have tweaked the electricals to extend the battery life of the car, users, as usual, will require a 15 amp socket (the kind that runs your fridge) to plug in for a recharge. The recharging method remains unchanged with one end of a recharging cord going into where the fuel flap would be for a gasoline car and the other into the mains. Does it mean that the new version feels any safer? No. While the car's diminutive size is quite an asset on crowded Indian streets, the moment you hit the main roads, you feel like a guppy in shark country. And, you do not want to be stuck behind a public transport bus. RECC has added the nifty "Boost" button on the car, allowing it to scurry out of trouble and not end up as a tangled mass of fibreglass, but safe? No way. That said, in some European countries RECC has managed to skip safety tests by labelling the G-Wiz (that's how it is badged there) a quadricycle.
Driver or passenger comfort, too, wasn't on the minds of the people who designed this car. If you're tall, your forehead will be millimetres from the windscreen. And though RECC continues to call the Revai a four-seater, the rear seats are, frankly, quite useless, unless you're a midget or a gymnast. That is just one of the reasons why the 6' 4" Jeremy Clarkson, the acerbic auto reviewer, ripped it apart in a recent review for The Times.
To be fair, features like the Boost feature and the fact that RECC is giving buyers the option of upgrading their batteries once newer technologies come along, are great features that Chetan Maini, Managing Director, RECC, and his team have added to the car. But the Revai still falls short. Build-quality, though not its looks, has improved, but there are still a few rough edges. Most importantly, the car is expensive at Rs 3.49 lakh. Sure, it'll add to your green credentials, but that's a lot of money to blow up on buying brownie points with the green set.
This one rocks
It is called the Tesla Roadster and runs on 6,800 laptop-style lithium-Ion batteries. It costs $98,000 (Rs 40,18,000), or about 12 times the price of a Revai, but can run for over 300 kilometres, can hit 100 km per hour in four seconds and has a top speed of over 215 kilometres per hour. Now, that is one way to combine street-cred and green-cred.
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