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Old 16th February 2009, 14:38   #1
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Default 2006 Maini Reva (G-Wiz) - An Ownership Review

My name is Mike Boxwell. I live in the UK and I run a 2006 Reva electric car which I have owned since new.

The Reva is known as the 'G-Wiz' in the UK, and Reva everywhere else in the world. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the car is built in Bangalore, has a top speed of 65km/h (new ones now do 80km/h) and has a range of around 60km (80km on the new models with an option of 120km with more powerful batteries).

The car seats two adults and two children, or the rear seats can be folded down to make a useful luggage area.

It's designed as a city car, and in that role it works extremely well. There are around 1,200 of them in the United Kingdom - most of them based in London where there are tax advantages for driving electric cars - and they have become a very familiar sight in the centre of London.

In London, they do a very good job of keeping up with the rest of the traffiic. The later models do better as they have much better acceleration and a faster top speed. Mine is one of the earlier cars with a top speed of 65km/h, which is fine in town but a little bit too slow on open roads.

Outside of London, Reva's are still a rare sight and I get a lot of interest from the general public, wanting to know what the car is. I use it for commuting too and from work and for local journeys.

Unlike most owners, I don't live in London, I live in a small village but commute into a major city every day. The total journey is around 22km each day and the route includes fast roads as well as inner city roads. The car is also used occasionally to take my children to school - around 5km away - and for general short distance journeys.

Out of town, the car really could do with a little bit of extra speed. 65km/h is the top speed which means in reality the car accelerates to 55km/h and then slowly crawls up to 65km/h. A newer Reva 'i' with its far better acceleration and significantly better top speed (80km/h) would be far more suitable for owners who wish to use their cars outside of the city.

Driving a Reva is extremely simple. It has no gearbox, just a switch to select forward, reverse and economy modes. The car has a superb turning circle and its tiny size means it is always easy to park.

The brakes take a little time to get used to, as they work differently to a normal car. The Reva has 'regenerative' braking which means that when you put your foot on the brake pedal, the electric motor switches into a generator and uses the momentum of the car to recharge the batteries and slow the car down. The harder you press the brake pedal, the more energy you put back into the batteries.

The first 30% of braking on the Reva is done this way: press the brake pedal harder and normal braking kicks in, slowing the car down with brake pads as they would with any other car.

It means that with care, it is possible to drive the car anywhere and never use traditional brakes unless you have to take emergency action to avoid another car or person.

In terms of feeling, regenerative braking does not feel as positive as more traditional braking, and that is what takes a little time to get used to - for first time Reva drivers, the braking does not feel particularly confident, even though it still stops the car. The newer cars have improved this, making the car feel like any normal car on braking.

Around town, the performance of the car is responsive enough to be fun, and its small enough to nip through the traffic extremely well. Its also good to know that where ever you are going to there will always be a space to park in - the Reva is so small it can squeeze into the tiniest parking space where other cars cannot fit.

A lot of people who have never used an electric car think that you loose convenience with an electric car - if you run out of charge, you can't easily refuel the car, but in reality that is not the case. For a lot of people, they will never do a trip of more than 50-60km, and the convenience of going out to the car and knowing that you've got enough fuel to get where you want to go without ever having to visit a fuel station is liberating.

Furthermore, if you need to get a charge up at your destination, most people are more than happy to lend you a plug. An 80% charge takes around 2 hours, which means that by the time you've finished doing whatever you were doing and your ready to drive home, your car is charged up again.

There are Reva owners in London who use their cars all day long, visiting customer sites - if you can 'top up' your charge when visiting customers, it is possible to cover 200km in a single day if you so wish to.

Would I recommend a Reva? Yes I would. What it does, it does very well. It's not a long distance car, it is purely a city car, but it performs as a city car well and does what you would expect it to do.
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Old 16th February 2009, 15:40   #2
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Mike! Great write up on your Reva. Seems to be serving you quite well! Don't remember seeing a review of the Reva on this forum before.

Is the G Wiz easily available in the UK and what is the service back up like. Have you had any issues with the vehicle in your 3 years of ownership?

Would also be great if you can upload photographs of your car.
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Old 16th February 2009, 15:41   #3
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Wow, that real user's point of view is extremely informative. Its unfortunate that the plug-in anywhere and recharge idea is not at all feasible in Bangalore where the Reva is made. I wish a few corporates, at least, took an initiative to promote these.
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Old 16th February 2009, 16:19   #4
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I'll be visiting Bangalore at the end of this month, so I'll be able to see the place for myself and see how Reva are doing.

In London, there are lots of public charging points for electric car owners to recharge their cars. Most of these charging points are currently free. A few other towns and cities in the UK also have a few charging points but these are few and far between.

However, there are a growing band of owners offering charging points from their own homes, and one or two other businesses starting to offer charging points as well. It's still a trickle rather than a flood, but more and more charging points are becoming available.

Furthermore, my experience is that if you phone ahead and make arrangements in advance, people are normally more than happy to offer a plug. Most of them are curious about the car anyhow and I've never had someone turn me down. I know a few people who will quite often phone up a pub or restaurant in advance and 'book' a charging point when they reserve a table for a meal and have never had a problem.

I'm lucky - I have charging facilities at home and at work. There is another electric car owner about a mile from where I work who also offers a charging facility and I am trying to persuade the local authorities to open up a network of charging points around Coventry where I live - they have a network of six charging points around the city but they are only available for council business at present.

Here are a couple of pictures of my car:

There are lots more pictures of my car on the Reva Car Club web site (also known as the G-Wiz Owners Club) which I run. For obvious reasons, I'm not allowed to post the web address here, but a quick google will unearth the site.
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Old 16th February 2009, 17:47   #5
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I remember seeing the revas far more commonly in london than in bangalore and feeling proud that it is made in india. Sad that it hasnt met with much success here.
Like the thread starter said, I think its mostly the mental block that is keeping people away from this car, and, oh- the silly price tag that we have to bear here in India.
Old 16th February 2009, 18:35   #6
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1. What type are the batteries? Lead acid? Sealed? Or requiring water top up frequently? Or something else?

2. What is the body made of? FRP? If so, what about "disposal" of the body shell at end of life of the car?

What will the economy mode switch do?
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Old 16th February 2009, 19:29   #7
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Mike, what kind of maintenance has the reva required since the two years that you have owned it?
Has the charge life decreased, etc?
I'm planning to get one myself...
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Old 17th February 2009, 11:04   #8
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Thats a nice writeup on a product Made in India and successful out of India.

I was looking for a cheap auto transmission car and Reva came to my mind, did the test drive in Delhi. But seeing the price had to relent back. It costs more than a Santro, around 4 Lacs.

Outrageous pricing, the dealer told me the taxes are still very high on the car. I still believe the goverment, may be, is not keen on promoting this car (could be the pressure from other auto industry folks).

If it comes around 1.5 L, I would buy it any day.

Mike, How much you paid for this car?
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Old 17th February 2009, 11:25   #9
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Nice review, Mike. Thanks for sharing. I agree that the Reva makes a lot of sense as a local runabout. That said, the Reva's success in India has been limited by:

1. The pricing. Strange that governments around the world give the Reva better tax benefits than at home. However, independent of the tax benefits, Maini has priced the Reva at an over-optimistic 4 lakh rupees.

2. Battery technology : Though the same has been addressed to an extent with the Reva i, the technology of electric car batteries is yet in the nascent stage. Furious development work world-wide will ensure a disruptive technology in the next couple of years.

3. Charging facilities : British & American style homes are conducive to charging an electric car via a port in the garage. However, 20+ storey apartment style buildings with strict society management do NOT allow any kind of alterations.

4. Restricted Highway ability : In range, safety, speed & passenger capacity.

5. Basic car for the price : I believe the Reva is classified as a quadricycle in the UK? For 4 lakh rupees, it is a terribly basic car with limited functionality. If the price was made more realistic in India, the car would surely ensure a higher shot at success.

The concept certainly has potential, but needs a better strategy / implementation for success. Especially now that the 1 lakh rupee car Nano - which has about the same footprint but a far larger cabin - is just around the corner.
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Old 17th February 2009, 12:02   #10
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Nice & proud to see the first (probably) review of REVA, and that's too from London.

Reva is a god car, & people should use such electric cars more & more to save the environment.

So, Mike How long / mileage it will take to replace the battery?

Also, what kind of maintenance it requires?

& yes, As GTO has mentioned, if pricing was appropriate, i think it had been sold even more than Alto / 800 in India.

Last edited by loving_alaap : 17th February 2009 at 12:07.
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Old 17th February 2009, 13:08   #11
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Re: saving the environment, one needs to only cite the Prius. It does far more damage to the environment than you are led to believe and that is before it is even on the road. Lithium ion batteries anyone?

What kind of batteries do the Reva use? Lead acid?
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Old 17th February 2009, 13:20   #12
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Wow! So many questions. I shall do my best to answer them.

Batteries and Servicing
I've had the car for over 2 years and driven around 10,000km. Other than normal servicing, I have had to replace two batteries, which I have done myself - it's not a difficult job and the owners club has all the information on how to do it.

The batteries are lead acid traction batteries, which requires topping up with water a couple of times each month. Topping up the water is easy - there is a pipe that you plug into the car from a bottle of distilled water and a guage that shows when the batteries are full. The whole process takes about a minute.

Range does decrease as the batteries get older, but it does depend on how you use the car. I know several people who travel 50km a day with their cars on older batteries and because they run the car from a full battery to an almost flat battery, the range remains good.

I, on the other hand, rarely run my car from a full battery to an almost flat battery - I drive to work and back which is a round trip of 22km - and then put the car on charge. As a result, the charge indicator on the car rarely drops below 60%. However, because of the way I drive the car - charging it up whilst the batteries are still relatively full - the range of the car itself has dropped, giving me a range of around 30km. That suits me fine, because I never need to go further than that.

That said, it is very cold here in the UK at the moment - the temperature has been around 0c for the past two months - and that also badly affects the range.

Here in the UK, the Reva costs 8,000 to buy - I think that is around 5.5 lakh. In comparison, when the Tata Indica V2 was available in the UK a few years ago, prices ranged from 6,500 - 8,500.

The pricing is expensive because the car is not mass produced. Yes, it's built on a good production line, but it is a specialist car and isn't built in the same volumes as other cars. That makes the car expensive to build. In addition, you're buying all your fuel for the car at the same time as you're buying the car - batteries are expensive and it's like buying all your fuel up-front when you buy your car.

I agree with all the comments about the price though - the car will never become a mainstream product until the price comes down.

Future Battery Technology
GTO makes some very good points about the car. Battery technology is improving all the time, but I'm not so sure what is meant by 'disruptive'? Since its launch in 2001, there have been different battery packs available for the Reva and as the technology improves, so new batteries come along. Here in Europe, the lithium-ion version of the Reva has already been announced and several owners are talking about upgrading their cars.

With regards to new battery technology by the way, there is a lot of development going into lithium-ion battery technology for electric cars. However, it should not automatically be assumed that lithium-ion batteries are therefore the only battery worth having. In the UK, a new commercial electric van is being launched in two months time that will use lead acid batteries, whilst the next generation Toyota Prius is going to have NiMH batteries. Lithium-ion batteries change the problems rather than removes them, and they are frighteningly expensive - around ten times the cost of lead acid batteries. I think we'll continue to see lead acid batteries in electric cars for quite some time to come.

Restricted Highway Capabilities
With regards to restricted highway capabilities, the Reva i is significantly better than my car in this regard. With a top speed of 80km/h, the Reva i would be fine for most main roads in the UK, although it probably wouldn't be a good idea to travel on Britain's motorway network for too far in one. That said, I know some people do!

Charging Facilities
Most Reva owners in Europe own a Reva as a second vehicle, and most live in houses where they can easily charge up their cars.

However, a lot more people would have bought Reva's if they could charge their cars up at their apartments and have been unable to arrange this. One clever way to get around this problem is to make an arrangement with a local business to park and charge your car at their site (offices, shop or whatever) out of hours. From the businesses point of view, it means there is a presence when the business is closed, thereby improving security, and secondly it shows they are 'doing their bit for the environment'.

Here in the UK, many councils and a few independent car park operators have installed charging points for electric cars. Some of these are charging points in large car parks, others are charging posts that are fitted at the side of the road.

Local businesses, too, are being encouraged to install charging points.

What we have done in the UK is get a lot of electric car owners to work together to get new electric charging points set up: if only one person is asking a local government department for a charging point, it is easy for the request to be turned down. If fifty people are asking for a charging point, it is more likely that something will happen.
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Old 17th February 2009, 15:57   #13
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What is the cost of new batteries?

Probably one has to buy every 2 years.
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Old 18th February 2009, 01:45   #14
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I remember reading a grossly negative ownership review of Reva on tbhp.
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Old 18th February 2009, 10:20   #15
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Great review Mike!

Originally Posted by WanderNomad View Post
I remember reading a grossly negative ownership review of Reva on tbhp.

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