What issues/problems do electric vehicle owners face in India?

Warning: This is a long answer. It’s about 1150 words. If you are not interested, skip reading.

Srihari Variar, who answered the question, has my full support.

I believe that I am qualified to share my opinions.

From 2008 to 2014, I owned and drove the REVA electric car. It was my first car and my only vehicle after my Maruti Wagon R.

It was a great experience. It was a great purchase, even though I knew its limitations. It was able to meet my very limited needs. It had a theoretical range of 80Km, which is actually about 70 miles. It took nine hours to fully charge. They recommended that I not charge the device as often as possible and wait until it reaches a low level.

This was my first difficulty. It was only 80Km. This was after the battery had been fully charged. When I was driving a lot, I had to make sure that the batteries were charged overnight. My battery would only be partially charged on most occasions. Let’s say 25 percent to 75%, but let’s take 50 percent as an average. This meant that my driving distance was only 40km and not 80km as advertised.

It was possible to get a range of 80km by just plugging in the device, regardless of what the indicator indicated. It used to be a habit that I did when forced, but it reduced the battery’s life.

Mine was an older model (Two-seater), which had lead acid batteries, and not the Lithium Ion batteries that the newer 4 seater E2O model E2O has.

Anxiety when I was out-of-town or in a situation where I could not use my car for a few days was another problem. If the battery life was to last as long, this car had to be used daily.

Because of the limited range, I had to estimate where I was going and how far I would travel. I also needed to calculate the mileage I would cover and make sure that my battery had enough charge to cover the distance. Another problem was this.

I was unable to just drive to the nearest petrol station and fill up my car with petrol, unlike a petrol-powered car.

I was unable to make unexpected unplanned trips.

It was not a problem that the limited seating capacity was. There were only two of us.

I have never had to take in more people. It was enough space for two children under 5ft to be seated in the back. I used it as luggage space so we could take our groceries with us when we went shopping.

Although the speed was not great, it was no problem. I drove at 45 km/hour, and Bangalore is lucky to have a driver who can go that fast without hitting a jaywalking cow, a pothole, a speed breaker, or traffic signal.

Srihari’s mention of difficulties in charging arrangements is very true.

It was my first retirement. Since I owned the property, I was running my own startup business and had excellent charging and parking arrangements. When I returned home from work, my apartment was in a multi-story building in a gated complex. I couldn’t charge my car overnight because there wasn’t an electric outlet in the basement. It was impossible to run a cable from the 15 Amp plug in my apartment all the way to the car, as I lived on the sixth floor. This may be possible for those who live on the ground floor. To get a 15 Amp electric point installed on a column near my designated parking spot, I had to battle the apartment owner’s association for several months. It was almost 150m long and was connected to my electric meters in the meter room. This cost was entirely my responsibility. It was only after I had the support of some committee members, who overruled others who wanted me to decline this facility, that I was able to overcome the difficulties of charging it at night. I had been charging it at night in my office during the day.

Another problem I faced was with servicing. It was only one service station, so I had to make an appointment. I couldn’t just walk in. No streetside workshop would even be able to look at it for minor repairs. They couldn’t handle this car because it was so high-tech.

The batteries needed to be changed every 30 months. This was how long my batteries last. I spent Rs 82000 my first time, and Rs 95000 my second.

This increased the price of the car, which I had already paid 3.49 lakhs when I bought it.

That I didn’t grudge was something that I was proud of. For 6 years, I had spent Rs 5000 per month on petrol, insurance, maintenance, and electricity. A surprise bonus allowed me to recoup my car investment in 6 years. I was able to write off 80 percent as depreciation and receive tax benefits. The Government also waived road tax.

It was an amazing experience. It was very easy to drive. It was easy to drive without the use of my left leg. There was no clutch. It was easy to maneuver, park, turn and, of course, I loved all the attention I received because it was the only car like mine in the area. Children in my apartment complex would look forward to the joy rides I offered, and I soon became known as Reva Uncle with the grey hair.

It was sold in 2014 due to compulsion. My daughter summoned me and my wife to USA when my grandson was born. This is a common practice among Indians living in the USA. During this time, there was no one to care for Reva. I was aware that I would be absent for six months at a time in the USA, and again several times over the next two to three years.

In 2014, I was able to find a buyer willing to buy the car. When there was a demand for second-hand cars, I sold it at Rs 2 lakhs. Mahindra had taken control of the company and stopped producing the Reva two-seater and instead introduced the E2O, a more expensive four-seater. The old two-seaters were sold secondhand because buyers weren’t willing to spend seven lakhs on a new four-seater E2O. Many of these buyers, like me, didn’t need it and were happy to accept the limitations of the two-seater.

The Reva was a niche product. The main customers were retired oldies and housewives, who needed a vehicle to travel short distances to pick up their children from school or shop, but couldn’t use their petrol-powered cars as their spouses had driven it to work.

Despite the many difficulties it presented, I still fondly recall my Reva.



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