Generally, if you’ve seen one automotive manufacturing facility, you’ve seen them all. But the Mahindra Reva plant in Bengaluru, Karnataka is revolutionary in itself and is one of the reasons why the Mahindra e2o’s carbon footprint is so miniscule. The first shock comes to you even as you are approaching the facility and you get the first glimpse. You’d expect an automotive plant to be massive, but the place where the e2o is made is probably as big as an aircraft hangar – it even looks that way too!
The building is designed to provide natural light through the day in a structure that is extremely spacious on the inside despite housing not just the assembly lines, but the administration offices and test areas as well. Yet, this plant can produce about 30,000 cars a year and at the same time is a lot more efficient than a normal manufacturing facility. All that is courtesy generating most of its own power requirements through solar technology as well as giving back power to the grid during dyno testing, etc (Read : Mahindra e2o First Drive).
The second thing that really amazes is the low levels of noise in the plant. With spot welding replaced by intricate bonding processes (a la Formula 1), the only noise you’ll hear in the factory are those of nuts and bolts being tightened. With the car loaded up on wheeled platforms that are shifted from one bay in the assembly line to the next by pure muscle power, there are no complex motors or whiny electric conveyors either.
The assembly process itself is revolutionary too. The chassis comes pre-assembled from vendors in a form that looks much like the roll cage in a modern-day rally car. The electronics are assembled separately into a composite tub that will shield the parts from underbody damage. Ditto for the battery stack. The first parts to go onto the car are the front McPherson Struts and the double trailing arm rear suspension. Post this, the two tubs holding the electronic control modules and the batteries are loaded in along with the motor and reduction gear.
The body panels are no oridinary pieces of plastic. These are made of multi-layer composites impregnated with the body colour. That essentially means that the regular paintshop is entirely eliminated and along with it, the need of chemicals and power requirements to run paint booths. These kind of body panels also offer another advantage – they turn out extremely lightweight and are key in keeping the e2o’s weight down to just 830kg. Also, being dent resistant and since the colour is actually impregnated in the composite, all you need after a light ding in the city is a quick polish (Read : Mahindra e2o First Drive).
These panels are then bonded onto the chassis and the entire rig is moved through the next steps of assembling the floor and the interiors as well as all the glass panels and doors. Of course, the all-important badges and logos come on as well before the final phase of assembly involves jacking the car up on a hydraulic lift to fit the tyres.
The Mahindra e2o comes factory-ready with a full charge, which is good for a 100km range. After it is completely assembled, every e2o is put through a suspension test and then a dyno run – which puts power back into the grid. The projector beam headlights are adjusted and then the e2o goes through a leak test in a special chamber that sprays it with water not only from above and the sides, but even from the bottom – to make sure there are no leaks getting in through the underbody and to the electronics. A quick body inspection later, the Mahindra e2o is ready for delivery!
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