ZigWheels takes an exclusive first drive of the revolutionary Mahindra e2o in and around the Mahindra Reva plant in Bengaluru, Karnataka where it is being manufactured
Electric cars are still a thing of the future. Despite all the advancements in technology over the years, they seem like they belong to a different world – or at least they have seemed so till now. More than anything else, it has just been the rather distrusting perception of the masses that vehicles powered by electricity have no place in conventional transportation. Thankfully, cars like the Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma and the Nissan Leaf are doing their bit across the globe to change that perception. Chetan Maini, Founder and Chief of Technology and Strategy at Mahindra Reva has been doing it for years too – with what everyone in India knows as the cute little Reva. The Reva and the Reva i though, were crude compared to what Mahindra Reva has on offer now – the e2o.
The car’s name itself is in fact derived from three very different and apt analogies. The ‘e’ represents the energy from the sun, the ‘2’ (to) represents the car’s connected technologies and the ‘o’ represents oxygen – the life force that sustains all life on earth – according to how Mahindra likes to describe it. As far as we’re concerned, e2o quite simply represents a product that is as clean as H2O or water not only in its manufacture, but also in its operation and by replacing the chemical symbol for hydrogen with ‘e’, it just emphasises on its electric propulsion.
But the e2o is not an evolution of the Reva i, it is a revolution, based on all the learnings from that car – from 200 million kilometers of real world data. The e2o pushes the boundaries of what we think cars can be, and how much they can be a part of our daily lives and not just commutes to work. The ingenuity begins from the design stage itself and then continues on to the manufacturing, operation and even the after sales phases of the car’s life cycle (Mahindra e2o : Special Coverage).
When the concept for the e2o was first talked about, Mahindra turned to one of India’s leading automotive designers for the car’s exterior styling – Dilip Chhabria. DC Design churned out a car that isn’t as radical as most other electric cars are. The e2o is more like a conventional hatchback but has enough quirks in it to bring to notice that is indeed out of the ordinary. It isn’t exactly boxy either with enough kinks and curves on it to give it a decent balance. But more than anything else, it is economical to make as well. The flared wheel arches add a whole lot of character to the entire stance and the wraparound headlights give a slightly futuristic visual as well.
At the rear, the e2o is characterised by its swooping windows that also help make the rear occupants feel a lot less claustrophobic as compared to similarly styled cars. The tail lamp clusters are all-LED and flank a large grey panel with the branding emblazoned on it. The bumper is tall but gets broken up well by a black cladding at the bottom and of course, there’s no tail pipe either. All in all, we’d say the e2o is a cute looking car and one that will appeal to female buyers more than men. Then there’s that really muscular bulge along the e2o’s side profile that will really take up the attention of the male mind too!
While the exterior was penned by DC Design and taken forward by the in-house design team at Mahindra, the interiors were completely left to the manufacturer to come up with. That said, it has a rather clean layout and incorporates some very high-quality bits. The dash is dominated by the huge rectangular touch-screen infotainment system that has two micro-sd card slots – one for the navigation system and one for anything else you might want to load up on it (Read : Mahindra e2o how it is made).
The steering wheel is nice and chunky and just beyond it is the big circular digital console lit up in a nice electric blue that tells your speed, state of charge, vehicle status, cabin temperature, etc. The seats are a nice sporty design with immaculate stitching on the leather that comes standard on the top variant. Air con vents are surrounded by mock-aluminum rings and all-in-all, the e2o looks very nicely kitted from the inside as well.
The way the e2o is built is quite a departure from convention as well. With the chassis more like a rally-car spaceframe that gives high levels of protection while keeping things light, the body panels are then resin-bonded onto it. The panels themselves are made of a multi-layer colour-impregnated composite, which means they are not externally painted. Each body panel is extremely light weight and we could pick up the front doors with literally one hand! These panels are dent-resistant and in case you end up scratching your e2o lightly in traffic, all you need is a quick polish to get it back to being spanking new.