GM Showcases Latest Electric Test and Demo Car in India

Experimental electric vehicle conversions last year by General Motors in Korea, Germany and as of last week in India, have some wondering when the company will create a pure battery electric to compete against the likes of the Nissan LEAF and pending Ford Focus EV.

On Thursday June 23, GM began displaying and testing an all-electric version of its Chevrolet Beat minicar in New Delhi. The Beat Electric is not proposed for sale anytime soon, but India was chosen as a demanding environment – as well as growing market – to demonstrate the car.

It is powered by a 300-cell, 20-kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery similar to what is in the Chevrolet Volt, but larger for the smaller, but non-range-extended car.

The Beat Electric is capable of about 130 km (81 miles) of “normal” driving – presumably at mostly lower speeds, maybe with some highway use thrown in. Recharge time with 240-volt power is under eight hours. A single-speed drive unit and an electric motor producing about 45-kW (60 horsepower) turn the front wheels.

No top speed or other tech specs were listed for the latest EV being shown by its North American-based maker in several markets other than its home market.

The Beat Electric now joins other global market cars being tested as all-electric vehicles by GM demonstration projects in Korea and Germany.

In Korea, GM announced in October 2010 it had converted three Chevrolet Cruzes and seven GM Daewoo Lacetti Premieres to all-electric spec.

The 10 Cruze/Lacetti EVs are equipped with a 31-kWh battery and generate maximum power of 150 kW (201 horsepower). They have been monitored closely to determine the amount of real-world range achievable by vehicles of their size.

On test schedules conducted by LG Chem, they may achieve a range of up to 160 km (100 miles). The vehicles can go from 0 to 100 kph (60 mph) in 8.2 seconds with a maximum speed of 165 kph (102.5 miles per hour).

Shortly before, another GM electric vehicle conversion project had begun in Germany. The electric GM/Opel Meriva, announced September 2010 has a 60-kW (82-horsepower) electric motor with torque output of 215 Nm (159 foot-pounds). Its 16 kWh battery delivers range of 64 km (40 miles), and top speed of 130 kph (81 mph).

GM said Opel’s engineers were able to integrate the otherwise bulky electric drive line without making concessions to luggage capacity or comfort.

As for the GM news of the week in India, the Beat Electric is presumably made with some trickle-down technology from the Volt, most notably the battery.

When the pending Beat Electric was last reported on, the story was it would be shown in April, but plans were stalled.

Initially, GM and REVA had intended to bring a same platform e-Spark EV to market, but those ties were severed, and GM took extra time to build the already planned for Beat EV instead – as a show car for now.

Not much is known about the canceled e-Spark, but REVA, maker of G-Wiz minicars in London, also developed the powertrain for the e-Spark. It was almost surely less high-tech than what is now in the Beat Electric prototype, which if it were offered, could be more expensive – which as you can see is a relative term.

Beat_side1

Standard (ICE) Chevrolet Beat side view.

While a price that looks shockingly low by North American standards of around $7,771 had been estimated for the GM/REVA e-Spark, Indian Autos Blog observed even if a presumably somewhat higher priced Beat Electric were offered to the public, it would be a tough sell, as its “L-Ion batteries are way too expensive for the cost-conscious Indian buyer who experiences frequent power cuts at home and work.”

Instead, a Beat diesel is expected to be the new workhorse of the line due later in July.

As it is, the Beat EV could lead to a viable city car in other markets, and surely there would be buyers for a version of it in the U.S. as well as other countries.

Naturally, far more stringent safety regulations and other hurdles could easily make it much more costly in Europe or the U.S. if it were ever to be introduced.

Unfortunately, GM Spokesman Kevin Kelly was not at liberty to divulge any advanced-tech plans, but he did say GM is looking at all kinds of options, including EVs.

He also said GM is figuring how to best tailor a car for the U.S., but there is “no firm timing” for when GM’s home market will see even an experimental EV like they already have had in Germany, Korea, and now India.

Sources: Indian Autos Blog, GM India, Korea demonstration fleet, Opel MeRegioMobil Demonstration


  • shoukathali

    all details about price.

  • Russki

    People, can someone please explain me, why Nissan Leaf costs ~$32,000
    (in US)!!!? After all, the electric car is technically much simpler than a
    gasoline/diesel car. The modern manufacturing methods [probably] already brought
    down the cost of the a battery to (~$5000), a motor to (~$1000), a car
    computer to (~$100), body with interior to around $3000. Why the heck are
    they selling a car that logically has to cost a MAXIMUM of $15,000 (with
    PHAT profit included) for a whopping $32,000!? And why are they feeding
    us the cr^p about the supposed high cost of the battery and safety
    equipment for the electric car? Well, as it turns out Chevrolet is
    thinking about releasing a fully electric car [probably] based on our Chevrolet
    “Aveo” for only $7,771 with PROFIT INCLUDED!
    How come in India an electric car costs close to $24,000 cheaper than
    here!? (Don’t tell me that air bags and reinforced bumpers make up the
    difference. This is clearly not true. Labor? Most of the components are probably made in Asia. Assembly cannot cost that much…)

    Looks like we are being reaped-off in broad daylight boys and girls. I might be wrong. Can someone shed some light on what the heck is going on here?

  • James Davis

    Why is it so difficult for GM to learn. They are so far out in left field when it comes to technology that Mrs. Jones third grade class out performs them. Does GM not realize that the world is leaving them so far behind that they have already been placed on the endangered species list. Give it up GM, you have already severed your life support line. You are a terrible blight on America.

  • James Davis

    If you step back a couple of feet and reread this article again and think about other articles similar to it, it will become very clear to you why the Leaf sells for a fraction of the cost in Japan as it does in America and why the Leaf in Japan gets triple the mileage per charge there as it does in America and why Telsa can no longer boast about getting 150 to 300 miles per charge. Two little simple letters explains it all…GM. Look what those two simple little letters did to Norway’s Think and Ford’s Fusion EV and all of China’s EVs that sells there for $2,500.00. When those cars comes here, that $2,500.00 dollar car went up to $24,000.00 and its miles per charge dropped to 40 because those two little letters said that Americans don’t drive more than 40 miles per day. In Japan, the Leaf can be fully charged in less than 15 minutes, in America it will take you 8 to 12 hours…all because of those two simple little letters.

  • Hal

    Not that know the specific cost of the Nissan Leaf. However I have been involved product development or 30 years. You can safely assume that most high volume products have a 3 times multiplier on the low end and as much as 8 times or more on the high end. Another product development metric is the time when all investment is payed back and the product is a cash generator. Typically 1 year or 6 months is preferable. I would assume a Ford car has a payback under 6 months. That should give you rough idea of the possible costs on a product. If a product price is $30 k and it has a 6 times multiplier then you can assume cost is in the realm of $ 5 k total. Typically, the lower the production volume, the higher the multiplier….or the newer the technology, the higher the multiplier. Dealers of course get very little of this profit passed to them.

  • James Young

    James, do you have links to back those claims up? I’m not saying you’re wrong or disagreeing with you but I would like to see some proof of that. Another reason it’s cheaper over there is LABOR.

  • schanie

    A Google search for “price of nissan leaf in japan” shows that the Leaf is selling for about $40k in Japan. So, about 30% more than the US price. Similar searches show the Leaf has the same recharge time and range in Japan as it does here. Unless, of course, Google is in on the GM conspiracy.

    James Davis has been a persistent GM-hater on here.

    I’m glad to see GM experimenting with modern, affordable, pure EVs.

  • James Davis

    Sure, Mr. Young; this site and its sister site, plug-in cars.com has all the proof you need. I did not make this information up; I got it from reading this site, Scientific America, Alternative Energy Vehicles, American Scientific, Alternative Energy Batteries, Telsa Motor Company, Nissan’s web site and this sister site’s articles. I have been reading this site and its sister site for years and I do have a good memory on what the articles contain…but not a good memory on when the articles were posted. You will have to do this research yourself with key words like: alternative batteries. I also read Secretary Chu’s web site a lot to see what new electric car batteries, and alternative energy sources, are being developed and when he says this new technology will be coming out. There is a new super charge battery coming out that they call ‘sludge’ and the miles between charges will blow your mind away. I think MIT is developing it and the Rocky Mountain Institute is coming out with a super charge battery that can be used for commercial use with businesses and homes. RMI also developed a complete car body and frame out of carbon fiber that one man can pick up and carry off. They are using RNI’s technology to build dragsters that can withstand a 150 MPH impact and the driver, most often walks away with a few scratches and a couple of cuts. They are promising these new batteries by 2014 to 2016 at the least.

    I do not know if you have noticed, but GM’s CEO is a republican…not saying too much bad about the republicans, but they have always been against clean energy research and GM is forcing America and our auto manufacturers to stay away from electric car manufacturing and new electric car battery technology, because GM wants to stay with fossil fuels and they think the Earth will clean up their mess…the Earth will in about 250,000 years.

    Did you notice that there has been only one article on this web site about Ford’s Fusion EV and nothing about Telsa’s roaster and family sedan? …and the same applies to this site’s sister site.

    Don’t take everything on this site as gospel until you check it out on more detailed sites like Scientific American and American Scientific.

  • Andres

    I smell Paranoia…do aliens have something to do with all this??

  • Shines

    JamesDavis you say “Did you notice that there has been only one article on this web site about Ford’s Fusion EV and nothing about Telsa’s roaster and family sedan? …and the same applies to this site’s sister site.” I can click on Technology at the top of this page and select electric and see an article for each of the Tesla models.
    And there is no article about Ford’s Fusion EV because Ford does not make a Fusion EV. Ford is coming out with a Focus EV. There is discussion about the EV mode of the Fusion Hybrid (the hybrid can go up to 47 MPH in EV mode before the ice engine kicks in. Still the Fusion is not an EV nor a plug in hybrid. What you read and what you say you read on this site seem to be 2 different things.

  • Gaurab Banerji

    I think independent local companies should come up with a solution to electrifying the existing petrol cars. We can simply replace the piston engine with a motor and couple it with the gear shaft. Its done in US and 100s of DIY videos are available online.

    Indians should be given the freedom to alter their own cars and get them inspected and approved by the RTO.

    the link below might prove helpful.
    http://www.carwale.com/forums/ViewThread-6985.html#post65626

    Another option is not to replace an engine but to replace the fuel with hydrogen gas. Metal hydrides can be worderfully used to store hydrogen simply. and hydrogen can be made at home using electrolysis and even using solar panels at home or on your car roof for some extra punch.

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/storage/metal_hydrides.html

    Hydrogen can be used as fuel in todays normal petrol cars and its just like using CNG or LPG kit.

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  • tapra1

    General Motors in Korea, Germany and as of last week in India, have some wondering when the company will create a pure battery.PC Talk

  • Car

    Need more electric substations in india before thinking of buying electric cars. Greener world is needed but our government .. need not to say anymore. One should also think about mobile charging vehicles for breakdown support.

    Time currently demands for hybrid cars on which government should
    provide reasonable subsidy.

    website : http://www.autoworldcar.com

  • Ashu Agarwal

    I am interested to buy electric car ” Beat “

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