GM Partners With India's Reva for Electric Spark Mini-car

Companies say the car will be on the road within a year

General Motors said on Sept. 24 it had teamed up with India's Reva Electric Car Co. to develop a plug-in version of the GM Spark mini-car as the company embraces electrically powered driving.

GM and Reva said the new electrically powered Spark mini-car would be on Indian roads in a year and that they saw an eventual market abroad for the vehicle, which is aimed at city commuters.

"Both our companies have had technology teams working together for many months," said Karl Slym, head of the Indian unit of GM. "I can say with great confidence that in 12 months an electric Spark will be on Indian roads," Slym said.

GM will piggyback Reva's electric battery-powered technology onto its best-selling Chevrolet Spark, which has sold 3.5 million units around the world. The car will have an automatic transmission.

Reva, which launched its first electric car in 2001, is a global leader in producing low-cost electric cars.

Chetan Maini, deputy chairman of Reva, said the collaboration was aimed at making India "a global hub for the development and manufacture of electric vehicles and related technologies."

"Development of small electric vehicles is a growth area around the global automotive industry," said Nick Reilly, president of GM International Operations. "This cooperation with Reva will accelerate GM's progress to meet the emerging needs in many parts of the world."

In August GM took the wraps off its Chevrolet Volt petrol-electric hybrid -- an electric vehicle with back-up gasoline power for longer journeys that will go on sale next year.

Electrically driven vehicles, based on battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology, offer the best long-term solution for providing sustainable personal transportation, GM said.

Slym said the two companies were still deciding on pricing but added it would be "very competitive." The Spark sells for around 300,000 rupees (US$6,258) while the Reva retails for around 350,000 rupees, depending on model.

Slym added the partners expected annual sales "in the thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands" for the electric Sparks in India. But he said the numbers of electric cars sold would rise with Indian consumers increasingly environmentally conscious.

Reva has sold around 3,000 cars since 2001 -- half in Britain and half in India.

The Reva, which can seat two adults and two children, can cover 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a single charge of electricity. New planned models will offer greater distance.

Even though power outages are widespread in India, most cars in the country are charged at night when demand is less, Reva's Maini said. India's Center for Science and Environment says the country's cities are becoming haze-filled due to "killer pollution" caused by vehicle emissions. "Electric cars offer the solution," said Maini.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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