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Electric REVA-lations part-2: Mahindra Reva and Formula E

Venkat Desirazu, 30-Dec-2014
3662 Views

Introduction

Chetan Maini’s association with racing is one that stretches back to the origins of the Reva Electric Car Company. It was a solar car race challenge that Chetan took part in that inspired him to start the company. A petrol head (or should we say volt enthusiast) at heart, it only seemed destined that Mahindra Reva would make a foray into motor sports and it has ventured  into the world of Formula E.

Formula E

One of the newest forms of motor sport to hit the racing scene, Formula E as its name suggests involves racing electric cars on street circuits. But these are not just your run-of-the-mill prepped up battery pack and four wheels on steroids. These are proper out and out FIA- spec Formula race cars. They have aerodynamic aids, racing slicks and a survival cell for the driver and looking at them you would not realise what’s sitting behind the driver.

Its only when the cars begin to move that we realise what is different. Instead of the familiar burble of the 1.6-litre V6 turbo, we hear a sort of whine emanating from the ‘engine bay’ which is basically electric power at work.

The 2014 Formula E season is the first one ever and for this year all cars have been standardised. The car has been developed by Spark and built by Dallara while the electric motors are being supplied by McLaren. The battery system has been created and is being supplied Williams F1 while Michelin is supplying the tyres.

Given the number of motor sports enthusiast among our reader base, it only seemed obvious that we quiz him on Mahindra’s involvement in the sport.

Photo:MahindraRacing

 

Why has Mahindra got involved in Formula E?

 

The decision to get into Formula E relates to a three- way benefit, the most prominent is that the futuristic nature of the sport has allowed the company to build an aura around it. Right from how it’s conducted, all the way to things like the Fanboost option which allows the fans to vote for one driver on the grid to get an additional 30 second boost.

The second reason is the trickle down of technology that is developed for racing. It is a common practice among manufacturers to run a racing programme in this regard and it appears that Mahindra is no different. We believe that Formula E, thanks to the way its run, will go a long way in the development of road- going EVs. Finally he says that thanks to its global locations and audience, it’s a great form of exposure for the company and its activities.

How much are the team involved in the development

Since this is the first season of Formula E, the role of teams has been limited due to all the components being provided. However, for the second year, individual teams will be allowed a bigger hand in the construction of the cars and for this Mahindra has set up a base in the UK and will also make use of its Bengaluru facility which currently only provides technical support. This will give the teams a chance to develop innovations for the sport and then consequently transfer the technology to its road- going cars.

Photo:MahindraRacing

If there is an Indian team with a local base? Why

He says that it’s only a matter of time before the sport makes its way to India but for that it would need a lot of local support. Possible venues include a track around Cubbon Park in Bengaluru, the SeaLink in Mumbai and the Raj Path in New Delhi.

Chetan believes that it would be a great success in India as the sport would be bringing the racing to the people rather than them going to a purpose- built facility. Just as we were wrapping up the topic, I jokingly suggested that Mahindra Reva offer the e20 to Formula E in the form of a support car race. He seemed quite enthused by the idea and would consider it if all things went according to plan.  

What does the Mahindra Halo Represent?

It seems that Mahindra Reva has already been developing some racing DNA for the future in the form of the Halo Sports car. Unveiled at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo, it represents the kind of work that the company is doing in a direction that Chetan calls ‘making the EV look really good’.

It has a range of around 200kmph with a 160kmph top speed and a 0-100kmph time of less than eight seconds. The designs of both the outside and inside are revolutionary and represent the future of Mahindra’s EV range.

Being that big of a car person himself, Chetan has a range of specially prepped Revas which he uses to travel around Bengaluru. These Revas have larger batteries, tuned suspension, bigger wheels and obviously look much cooler than the normal car.

Some pundits have predicted that in the face of growing environmental concerns, motor racing will become an anachronism. However, with the concept of Formula E and work into vehicles like the Halo there is hope. Literally like a giant hiding in plain sight, we believe that Mahindra Reva has a plan for the future and will strike when the time is right with a large range of products and solutions.

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