The Reva is essentially a city car – she loves city traffic and jams. So taking it on a 500 km highway trip from its old Akola home to its new Pune home was an interesting adventure. In a long distance trip, the constraint is having a town which is approximately 100 km from your last charging point. The actual distances between stops ranged from 90 to 120 km, thanks to Akola Pune route not having any major ghats. Took delivery of the car at 0700 hrs on Day 1 – and because of the inexperience with the car and the hunt for charging points could only reach Jalna, a distance of 200 km from Akola, with a stop at the 110 km mark at Mehekar. Next day was required to do a marathon 300 km. Start was at 0500 hrs. First stop was about 120 km away at Nevasa Fata. The next was 110 km away at Shirur. And the third stop was home. 8 hours of cautious driving – and 8 hours of bindaas charging.
Loved the car’s regenerative braking feature. Have had debates about how much does this help with the car’s range – but one thing is for sure, the brake shoes will last a lot. I must have used the brakes not more than 25 times in a 500 km journey. The car was driven with efficiency meter ticking between high and very high. The AC was switched off – and there were no passengers or luggage. This helped the cause of range. Rolling up the windows, tucking in the outside rear view mirrors and tailgating trucks are measures which add to the efficiency.
By and large roadside people were helpful. Only 2 of the 3 people I approached for charging on the first stop refused help. They hadn’t seen the car, because I roamed around charger in hand. Then onwards I made it a point to make sure that they first see the car. After that, people went out of the way – disengaging their compressors, opening up their kitchens.. Would like to make special mention of the owner of Hotel Madhuban in Jalna – he actually deputed an electrician with me to check out suitable points. The logical charging points are the puncture repair wallahs. They are the ones with the 15 A sockets which are used to power their compressors. The sad story with them is that being temporary sheds more often than not, the earthing is non-existent. With the new Reva charger design that is an issue – since it does not allow current to pass if earthing is absent. Fortunately, Mahendra (the previous owner) had lent me his old cable, which was a god-send.
I assume that most of the time I was using about 20% of the motor power. With a 17 kW motor – and an average running time of 3 hours, this means that I was using 17*0.2*3 =10 units of energy. In fact the first puncture wallah I recharged at, Imran from Mehekar, had a special meter for his compressor plug. And we ended up using 10 units in the 5 hours the car was connected to the plug. What was interesting was arriving at pricing for charging. Imran suggested I pay 100 Rs for every hour that I spend in his company – we negotiated it down to 300. Later on I decided that it is better to make an upfront offer of 200 – and that is what I paid the next 2 times. I tried haggling it down to 100 at one location, but the gentleman insisted on 200. So that I guess 200 is the floor as far as battery charging pricing is concerned.
The instructions on the control console were quite helpful –Engage hand brake, Push charging port in fully etc. However, sometimes the software irritates. For example, during the first stop some enthusiastic members of the public opened the front bonnet – and then the wiper stopped working. And then it rained – for all of 4 hours. So there I was trying to wipe off the windscreen every 5 minutes – and thanks to some non stick coating on the windscreen, the water refusing to get absorbed by cloth. To the company’s credit they kept up the door open warning all the way to Pune. It took a helpful Customer care at the company when I called after my return, to tell me that the bonnet is also a door. And when the bonnet is open – not only does the alarm get set off, but the windscreen wipers also stop working.