A few weeks ago, we brought you the news that Indian automotive firm Mahindra was readying itself to launch the spiritual successor to the REVA G-Wiz runabout in the UK. Called the Mahindra Reva e2o, we postulated that given its low-end starting price of £13,000 we expected it to be a European-variant of the Mahindra Reva e20 which has been sold in India for the past few years. Cross-referencing Indian specification for the tiny four-seater, we suggested that would translated to a top speed of 51 mph and a range of just 75 miles per charge.
But on Friday last week at the official launch event for the European Mahindra e2o, the Indian automaker proved us wrong by announcing a far more capable vehicle which it says is motorway ready. Costing about twice the price of its Indian counterpart, the Mahindra e2o comes complete with dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and an innovative ’emergency charging’ feature that allows the owner to request an additional 8-miles of emergency capacity if they don’t quite make it to their destination in time.
A higher-specification e2o is available too with what Mahindra calls the “TechX” package: satellite navigation with charging point location and predictive range remaining functionality; bluetooth connectivity; USB socket; SD card; digital radio; DC quick charging port; and reversing camera.
So far, so good. But while the European Mahindra e2o is far superior to its Indian counterpart and is far more affordable than either the Nissan LEAF or the Renault ZOE (the two cheapest highway-capable plug-in cars you can buy in Europe today) its specifications aren’t anything to get excited about.
For a start, the European-market Mahindra e20 is powered by a 31 kilowatt electric motor which in turn gets its power from a 13.9 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Recharging that battery takes nine-hours from a domestic 240-volt outlet (presumably at a limited 10 amps) while the e2o TechX’s DC quick charging port can fill the battery from empty to 80 percent full in a rather agonising 1.5 hours. For those taking notes, that three times longer than a 2016 Nissan LEAF Tekna 30 kWh takes to charge from empty to 80 percent full — and that 80 percent charge would be good for around 85 miles of real-world use (124 miles on the overly-optimistic NEDC test cycle).
Which brings us to range. at an estimated 79 miles on the NEDC test cycle, the Mahindra Reva e20 can manage more range than the tiny Renault Twizy two-seat urban runabout, and has two more seats. But given how overly optimistic the NEDC test cycle is, we’d hazard a guess that a real-world range of 60 miles or so would be a far more realistic expectation of the tiny plug-in.
As for speed? While Mahindra notes that the European-specification e2o can reach a top speed of 63 mph, the tiny electric motor takes 18 seconds to hit 50 mph from standstill. Ten or twenty years ago, that would have been considered rather pedestrian performance. Today, it’s impossibly slow. How slow? We’re not aware of any internal combustion engine vehicles available today with similar performance characteristics, meaning it will likely be the slowest car on the road. Even our ancient 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV staff car — a vehicle which was designed for practicality before performance — is travelling 10 mph faster after the same time.
While its top speed of 63 mph does mean it could theoretically travel on a British Motorway, we note that the tiny car would still be travelling 7 mph under the posted maximum limit on most British motorways when flat out. Given most drivers regularly exceed 75 or even 80 mph, we think it would take someone of strong character to pilot the tiny car on all but the tamest of high-speed stretches, especially with large trucks bearing down on it in the slow lane.
Luckily however, should the worst happen Mahindra says the e2o is far safer than its notorious ancestor, the tiny low-speed G-Wiz quadricycle. Due to its weight and top speed, the Mahindra e2o doesn’t meet the requirements to be registered as a quadricycle under European law, but that also means it must meet far stricter crash test standards. Under European law, it will be classified as a full M-1 certified vehicle — the same classification as other motorway-capable cars sold in the EU. Due to the small volumes it will be sold in however, Mahindra says it’s unlikely the Mahindra e2o will undergo the usual voluntary EuroNCAP testing procedure that most automakers voluntarily put their cars through.
At a price of £12,995 after UK government rebates, the Mahindra e2o is certainly going to be a lot more affordable than any other four-seat plug-in car available in the UK today. But given the difference in price between it and a used Nissan LEAF or Renault ZOE — both of which have far better specifications, performance and are backed by a nationwide dealer network — we’re struggling to see just who will opt for this quirky plug-in. But as always, we’re eager to be proven wrong.
What do you make of the Mahindra e2o? Would you consider one? Or do you think Mahindra is making a big mistake by bringing it to Europe?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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