The market for electric cars is headed for brighter days ahead. While incumbent electric car maker Reva is spreading its wings overseas, many domestic companies are expressing more interest in the segment.
Tata Motors Ltd, the country's largest vehicle maker has said that it will start a feasibility study for introducing electric version of its compact car Indica in the domestic market. The company is currently developing the electric Indica with a Norway-based firm for launching the car in the European market by 2011.
Bengaluru-based Reva Electric Car Co, one of the leading global electric car makers, said it is scouting for partners in the US and Europe for setting up manufacturing bases. Reva's deputy chairman and chief technology officer, Chetan Maini said the company is conducting negotiations with some local parties but so far nothing has been finalised.
Reva, which had recently entered into an agreement with General Motors India for launching an electric version of the compact car Spark, said it was also open to partnering with other companies.
"Our technology is useful for all sorts of vehicles from three-wheelers to big cars, so we are ready for other relationships in the future. But as of yet, nothing is finalised," Mr Maini said.
Tata Motors' managing director for India operations, Prakash M Telang said that the company would study the market demand in the country before launching the electric Indica. "We have to look into the cost equation in India. We have to see the market demand as it will be an expensive vehicle...Electricity is also not easily available in the country," he told reporters.
Tata Motors showcased the electric Indica at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) annual convention in 2008, followed by its preview at the Geneva Motor Show this year.
Joining the electric car bandwagon are Hero Electric, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ajanta and Japanese Mitsubishi Motors. Hero Electric, the unit of the country's largest two-wheeler maker Hero Honda Motors is planning to launch an electric car and battery-driven three-wheeler in the next five years. Currently, the company is busy with research on some prototypes of electric vehicles.
M&M, the country's largest utility vehicle maker is planning to introduce a four-seater, battery operated vehicle by next year. M&M is already present in the three-wheeler electric vehicle market through its Bijlee. It is also working to convert its three-wheeler Alfa into a battery operated vehicle.
Not to be left behind, Ajanta, makers of quartz clocks and home appliances, is planning to buy an electric car manufacturer in the Guangzhou province of China, to launch a sub-Rs1 lakh car in the Indian market. Ajanta, which also makes electric bikes, vitrified tiles and CFL lamps, has set aside a layout of Rs100 crore to acquire an existing assembly unit of an undisclosed carmaker, which can roll out 5,000 units a year. Ajanta has even named its electric car as Oreva derived from the names of its founder OR Patel and his wife Revaben.
Besides all these domestic companies, Japanese car manufacturer Mitsubishi is also reportedly in the process to launch an electric car in India. Mitsubishi has already launched its innovative electric vehicle (MiEV) in Japan and Hong Kong and is planning to introduce the modified version in India. -Yogesh Sapkale[email protected]