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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

Last updated on: June 24, 2011 11:45 IST

Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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Sky rocketing fuel prices coupled with environmental concerns have led a small section of car makers to think of bringing in alternative fuel and electric cars.

Till now, India has only one electric car.

In an attempt to expand the choice, American automaker General Motors showcased Chevrolet Beat Electric in New Delhi.

The launch, however, would take some more time.

"We are delighted that Chevrolet selected India as an important market to test battery electric technology, while recognising the capabilities of our engineering team to help identify ways to make this technology more affordable," GMI president and MD Karl Slym told reporters.

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Image: Chevrolet Beat Electric.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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The electric Beat is powered by a lithium-ion battery and can go at least 130 km in a single charge under normal driving conditions.

General Motors will showcase the technology in other countries including Korea, China and Germany.

Chevrolet has already launched the Chevrolet Beat LPG recently.

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Image: The dashboard of Beat.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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Mahindra Reva: EV leader in India

At present, the only electric vehicle available in India is Mahindra Reva.

However, very soon, some more electric vehicles like Tata Nano Electric and Hybrid, Tata Indica Vista Electric and Hyundai i10 EV will be in India.

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Image: Tata Nano EV.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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Sentiment that governs acceptability of EVs

A section of car buyers in India adopted Reva but with some reservations.

The reason behind lack of wholehearted acceptance of electric cars in India is the long term non- feasibility and compactness of these cars.

Right from their mileage limitation per charge to their battery maintenance costs, the impression, in general, about electric cars is that cost of ownership is higher than petrol cars.

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Image: Mahindra Reva.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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'Go green' signal by the government

It has been quite sometime since GM expressed its intentions to introduce electric version of the Chevrolet Beat hatchback in India.

The plan finally speeded up with a green signal from the government, which is keen to push green cars by giving direct, indirect subsidies, concessional excise duties and income tax sops.

As part of the initial measures to promote green cars, the government had announced exemption from customs duty, special additional duty and countervailing duty on some parts used in the manufacture of hybrid cars such as battery pack and chargers.

Furthermore, excise duty on hybrid kits has also been halved.

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Image: Fiat EV.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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Chevrolet Beat Electric

GM India had seriously thought of bringing Chevrolet Spark EV prior to the Beat EV.

GM India had once collaborated with Reva Electric, however, the tie-up came to an end without any significant development after Mahindra took over Reva.

Though not much details are available about Beat EV, it is rumoured that GM India could use lead acid or li-ion batteries to power the car.

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Image: Chevrolet Beat.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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There will be a price difference between the two variants.

Moreover, Beat Electric is also expected to be lighter than the existing 965kg Beat petrol.

GM is expected to cut the weight to somewhat near Reva which weighs 700 kg. However, cutting down 295 Kgs from existing Beat will be an uphill task as the batteries and electric motor are not lighter.

The reduction in weight perhaps will showcase new wheels, new interiors, more use of plastic, and aluminum in the Beat Electric.

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Image: Head lamps of Beat.

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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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The mileage per charge is also expected to be around 20km higher than Reva that goes up to 80 kms per charge.

Last but not the least is the pricing.

Though there is no official confirmation regarding the Beat Electric price in India but it likely to be somewhere between Rs 400,000 to Rs 600,000.

Reva price starts at Rs 349,000 to Rs 428,000.

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Image: Karl Slym, president and managing director of General Motors India sits next to a Chevrolet Beat.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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Electric Beat unveiled. More green cars to follow

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More comfort, more economy: Advantage Beat

Some of the advantages of Beat over Reva will be its mileage, size, looks and comfortable seating.

While Reva has a comfortable seating space for two -- the rear seats are just too congested -- Beat Electric is likely to have comfortable seating for five.

The Beat EV will certainly beat Reva in looks.

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Image: The trunk of Beat.

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Beat to open new avenues for electric cars in India

The introduction of Beat Electric is seen to open a gateway for more electric cars in India.

Its success would largely decide the fate of future electric cars in India.

In the US, there is Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla, Fisker Karma Hybrid, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHV), Honda Fir EV, Mitsubishi I, Daimler Smart Fortwo ED and Think EV to name a few prominent electric cars.

In due course, some of these car makers may think of India as their new destination.


Image: Rear view of Beat.

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