Meet The Man Who Gave India Its First Electric Car
Chetan Maini is a man with a vision, the pioneer of electric vehicles in India. What began as a start-up in Bangalore, with innovation and perseverance grew to give India its first electric car Reva.
A graduate from the Stanford University, Chetan Maini was drawn to solar- and electricity-powered cars since his days in college. In 1994, he started working on Reva. After seven years of hard work and trials, Reva was finally launched in 2001 by his start-up, the Reva Electric Vehicle Company. Maini handled this herculean task without any generous financial backing, building a network of 200 automobile vendors to aid his journey.
How Reva performed
Reva was launched about seven years before the Roadster, the electric car by Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. While the Roadster had a much higher sale rate than Reva, it is noteworthy that Musk was backed with support from the Silicon Valley investors. In comparison, Reva was manufactured at a cost only 10 per cent of what Musk required. For it’s low scale of manufacturing, Reva performed quite well in the market, selling cars globally, with sales in countries like the UK being higher than those in India. The reason behind the relatively lukewarm response Reva received, when compared to Tesla, can be directed to the lack of financial backing, advertising, and a focused electric vehicle promoting policy in India. Maini’s efforts did not go entirely unnoticed, though. He successfully secured $20 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and the Global Environment fund in 2006, and managed to catch attention in the Indian market too.
Tie up with Mahindra & Mahindra
Soon, realising Reva needed financial banking and a bigger name associated with it to get noticed, Maini agreed to sign over an acquisition to Mahindra & Mahindra in 2010. Though not an independent venture, Maini continued to be the CEO of the Mahindra & Mahindra Reva. In 2011, he assumed post of the CTO. He was then involved in development of electronic applications for the various automobile departments of the M&M group. Along with this, he was part of the team that built M2Electro. M2Electro is an electric race car built for the Formula-E championships, analogous to the Formula-one races. The car performed impressively, finishing third in the Beijing eGrand-Prix. With a maximum speed of 225 kmph, the car accelerates from 0 to 100 kmph in 2.25 seconds. In addition, he worked in close association with the Central Government to launch the National Electric Mobility Mission, the Board of which he was a part of. Having accomplished all this, Maini now wants to fulfil his goal of a successful start up, while continuing his association with Mahindra Reva and Formula E in advisory capacity.
With over 20 years of experience with electric vehicles, he has successfully developed six electric, solar and hybrid electric cars in India. Last year, he participated in various programmes, travelling and building up knowledge and experience to launch his start-up, so he can return to his passion of “building technology, energy management, and personal mobility.” His prime goal is to contribute to environmental protection and to the reversal of global climate change. His exemplary work has been well-deservingly recognised and appreciated worldwide. Between 2001 and 2005, he was recognised via the YEO Thomas Alva Edison Award, the SESI Business Leadership Award, the Design Excellence Award for best concept design, and the Monte Carlo Sustainable Mobility Award.
The World Economic Forum named him one of the Young Global Leaders in 2011. He has received the Indian Business Icon Award, the Top Gear Man of the Year award, and has been listed as one of India’s Top 50 Influential People by the Business Week. Chetan Maini’s is a story of a man who dreamt and fulfilled his dream with very limited resources. He knew when to compromise and positively join hands with a bigger company to keep his vision alive, and to further aid in development of environment-friendly technology. Having achieved what he wanted, he now has the courage to return to his passion and chase his goal once again. His goals is not self-centred or grossly monetary, but to bring about a significant change in a world struggling with air pollution and resource depletion. He stands as an example of innovation, ingenuity, wisdom, positivity and courage to all of us, while at the same time drawing attention to the urgent issue of climate change.
The Logical Indian appreciates and lauds Mr. Chetan Maini for his stellar work in the field of sustainable technology development, and would like to wish him the very best for a successful venture ahead.