Selling a tandem seating car could be a psychological challenge, in spite of it being easier to manoeuvre in city traffic. Maybe some people would label it as a high end bike with seats. Kalpit believes that the three tasks that the EaS-E will be only doing are: Going to office, Picking up kids from school and buying veggies - looks like housewives will be a major target segment. Nevertheless, the features that are required for the runaround city car have been thought through: Cruise control, pedal less driving for traffic jams.
Was unhappy about the pseudo SUV boxy stance - would end up increasing coefficient of drag. Kalpit has wanted a conservative design so that his car can have mass appeal. This meant more conventional linearities rather than curves. Another reason for the higher rake angles is space - the same reason that the Nano also adopted a similar design language. The back is also raked up - giving it a Ritz kind of appearance from the side. Again, the reason is to give more headroom to the rear seat passenger(s). At 3 m length, it is good enough for two rows of seats, The e2o was a 2 door - and Mahindra Reva felt that it could have been easier to sell with 4 doors. The four doors do give a great choice for passengers in exiting and entering. It will also help standardize the product for both LHD and RHD markets. The earlier prototypes of the EaS-E were trikes - because quadricycles were not allowed in 2016. Consumer feedback about trikes was not good - and thanks to Bajaj’s lobbying for the Qute, the government did give in - and re-created a quadricycle category.
But what makes me fall in love with the vehicle is the width - at 1100 mm, it will be the narrowest car on Indian roads. Hopefully it will be the reason congested city roads would love the EaS-E. But PMV, which stands for Personal Mobility Vehicles, will have to work hard to give a very car-like experience to the EaS-E, else it is doomed to meet the same fate as the Nano.
Kalpit needs to work more on energy efficiency. He plans to use a 8 to 10 kWh LFP prismatic battery, which may give him 100 km of range in city driving without AC. The website claims a range of 160 km, but that is in standard test conditions, without AC on. Switching on the AC can reduce the range by almost a third. Two ideas that Kalpit can think of - using R13 tyres instead of the R14 he uses currently. R13 is also the e20 size. We can also experiment with treads to reduce rolling resistance. And the other is to have a glass separation between front and rear, so that he can reduce AC load in the scenario of single seat usage.
I would have preferred a 15 kWh pack, which would assuredly given a 120 km range, even with AC on. The website mentions a 50,000 km, 3 year warranty on the battery pack. I think they should offer a 5 year, 80,000 km warranty. Fast charging is not usually an issue with small packs - as you can achieve a full charge in 4 hours. Plus you don’t expect intercity drives in this vehicle. A 7 kW charging option is being explored.
PMV plans to offer two motor options - a sedate 10 kW peak power or a sporty 15 kW peak power. I would recommend that PMV only offers the lower power motor - as range is sacrosanct - the rest of the features being much lower in priority. Incidentally, a quadricycle cannot go above 15 kW peak power, and should weigh less than 450 kg without the battery pack. Top speed that can be offered is 70 kmph. Methinks that Kalpit should go in with the minimum specs that are acceptable by MV regulations - as a commuting car is definitely not going to be expected to have Ferrari specs.
The e20’s space frame is good from a safety perspective. It is also preferred if you are not sure about your volumes and don’t expect numbers to ramp up too soon. It can fit FRP panels easily. In fact the first Tesla also used that. But the space frame makes for a pathetic suspension. Production is supposed to be happening in a Chakan facility. PMV may not get a second chance as far as basics are concerned. A Monocoque chassis is required.
The car in its current avatar weighs 575 kg with its under seat battery pack. (I would have loved an underfloor pack, as it would have improved handling.) But then it is expected to go in for a BIW body, which again should help improve rider comfort as a BIW body can deform to absorb road undulations. PMV Needs to do better weight management, get total weight to 500 kg. BIW will help there too. Build quality is much better with BIW. With FRP panels door gaps tend to be in cm. We need it to make the EaS-E's door gaps to be less than 2 mm.
Talking of suspension, the car will have McPherson struts in front and trailing link in rear. Would only be able to comment on how good or bad it is, after I have a longish driving experience, which Kalpit has promised will happen in the first quarter of 2023. It has to be comparable to the Tigor at the minimum. Customer expectations on EV quality have changed a lot since the years of the Reva and the e20. Will the likes of the under development Mahindra Atom and Bajaj’s electric Qute be competitors? Comfort levels of the EaS-E have to be better than both these products.
We should have discussed funding - because lack of finances can be a sure shot project killer. The current team size seems to be quite small - my guess is less than 10. Do you really need a lot of people to start a company? I don’t think so - because with EVs you are more an aggregator than a builder. The good part is that you have a CEO who is ready to listen - and that’s a good thing.
Kalpit uses a Honda City for his commute today - and should switch to an EV himself to understand the real life challenges of using an EV in traffic. If Kalpit prices the EaS-E around 5 lakh then his car could end up being the first and only car for quite a few green folks. I could count myself in them - but for that it is the EaS-E, more than Kalpit, that needs to do the convincing.