Electric vehicles are all the rage today, and the legion of tiny runabouts with whirring electric motors under their sheet metal are hailed as the future of motoring. But not every automaker who ventured into EV manufacturing, especially those who adopted the technology in its early days, had the good fortune of being greeted with such eagerness. Indian brand Reva was one such.
Built first in 2001, just over a couple of years after the Smart Fortwo came out, five years after General Motors introduced the EV-1, and two years before Tesla was founded, Reva’s electric car was sort of a pioneer. But the pioneering bit was limited to the timing in its case. There was nothing groundbreaking about the electric car, know as Reva-i in India and other markets and as G-Wiz in the UK market. Just over two and a half metres long, and built with flimsy fiberglass, the Reva-i had the structural strength of an eggshell. In fact, it didn’t qualify to be crash tested, and was classified as a quadricycle in export markets. Its unfortunate looks, aggravated by its skewed height to length ratio, didn’t do the Reva any favours either. Nor did the meagre 17bhp maximum output from the 4.8kW motor and lead acid batteries.
Despite its awkward looks and underwhelming performance, it found a decent number of buyers in some markets, especially those that gave EV users tax and congestion charge exemption and free parking. But safety concerns mounted, first when the company recalled battery chargers for overheating and potential fire risk, and later when a scientist was killed in a much talked about accident in London. Although steps were taken to blster its safety credentials, its popularity waned quickly and Reva stopped producing it in 2012.
Although it was one of the earliest electric vehicles in the world, and the best-selling for a period, it’s best known as a car that features in almost every ‘worst cars of all time’ list.
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