FRANKFURT, Germany -- Reva, the Indian electric car company, wants you to send a message if you need a ride.
The company unfurled two cars at the International Auto Show taking place at Frankfurt this week: the workaday LXR that can go 160 kilometers on a charge (100 miles) and the more upscale 200 kilometer NXG (187 miles).
The cars fit within the general envelope of what other car manufacturers are offering. The lead-acid-battery-powered NXR will cost around $15,000 and the lithium-ion-powered NXG will cost around $23,000. Those prices, however, exclude the cost of the battery, which will be assessed as a monthly fee, and include an averaged applicable tax credits , so the car is actually more expensive than Reva's estimates – welcome to the evolving world of electrics. The company will also release a discount city version of the NXR that will cost $10,000 and will only go 80 kilometers on a charge.
Reva, though, says the range can be further extended with an included telematics system that will allow drivers to send a text to a bank of customer support representatives. The representatives will be able to connect to the car's systems, analyze how much power is left in the battery, and then give the driver information on how many miles they can continue to drive based on the current state of the battery and their driving habits. The battery gauge on the car will show the anticipated remaining power, but the customer support technicians will have tricks and tribal wisdom to wring out more power, or at least get you to a charging station.
"People are concerned about range anxiety," said founder Chetan Maini. By using fast-charging stations that some companies have talked about installing as well as the telematics, a NXR could go 300 kilometers on a charge.
The system works because the habits of drivers and the capabilities of drivers vary. Direct access to data allows Reva to better gauge how long a driver can go before he or she conks out.
Reva will try to get around the price issues on electric cars by bundling a set of services – recycling, telematics, battery leasing, power purchasing – in a monthly service fee.
The NXR will be released in early 2010 and the NXG will hit European markets in early 2011.
The Reva NXR, an $18,000 (not including battery and including subsidies) all-electric car. The company is named after the founder's mother, who is the woman in the picture.
There's mom again, looking annoyed that her son is taking so long to get through his speech so she can unveil the car.
The back end of the $23,000 Reva NXG. It will hit Europe in early 2011. It has a lithium-ion battery and can go 200 kilometers on a charge.
The front of the NXG.