Electric car to hit chilean market by 2009

"City Car Reva" Will Cost US$13,000. Be on the lookout for a new breed of car in Santiago’s smog-choked streets later this year, when multinational energy giant Endesa releases Chile’s first 100-percent-electric vehicle. Cam, an Endesa subsidiary, expects the green light from Chile’s Transportation Ministry before 2009. Santiago Times, 31 de julio de 2008.

The "City Car Reva," which operates entirely without gasoline and releases no air pollutants, would sell for about US$13,000. That could be good news for Santiago, since tailpipes account for about 70 percent of carbon monoxide emissions in the metro region. Cam expects to place about 60 of the electric vehicles on the road in the first year of sales.

Though the Reva (and its potential competitors) release no emissions at the tailpipe, they’re not entirely guilt-free, environmentally speaking, said Paula Vasconi, geophysical engineer with Terram, a Chilean environmental organization.

"We need an analysis to determine whether this would really reduce air pollution or just move it somewhere else," Vasconi told The Santiago Times.

Plugging into the grid requires energy from somewhere, be it a coal-fueled power plant, hydroelectric dam, natural gas plant, wind farm or other source. So while electric cars have the potential to reduce the burden on Santiago’s air quality, they are only as clean as the electricity that powers them. And much of Santiago’s power comes from regions outside the metro area, Vasconi said.

On a charge costing less than US$2, the small, silent Reva can travel about 60 kilometers, according to Endesa. Its maximum speed is 70 kilometers per hour. A full charge of the car’s battery – which can power it 80 kilometers – takes 8 hours via a cable plugged into any household electrical socket. But only two-and-a-half hours of plug time provide the battery with an 80-percent charge.

With its small size and limited distance capabilities, the Reva is designed for short trips in high-density urban environments like Santiago. Manufactured in India, the two-door car can carry two adults and two children and requires no special maintenance. It has already proven successful in London, for example, where its drivers are exempt from tolls and may plug in at no cost. About 2,000 electric cars now operate on the streets of the English capital.


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