Mahindra has launched its e2o all-electric city car in the UK today, aiming at a gap in the market between the likes of Renault’s Twizy and Zoe. The e2o is a compact three-door hatchback that comes in two trim levels – City and TechX – with a starting price of £12,995 including the UK Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG).
The e2o has been produced for a few years by Indian firm Mahindra as an entry level EV and will arrive in the UK as the start of a comprehensive brand roll-out. Though already having a UK presence in the shape of SsangYong, Mahindra is set to expand both in terms of territory and model line-up in the next few years.
To start with, the e2o comes to Europe with the UK chosen as the first market to launch in. Further down the line, other Western European countries will then get the e2o – with Scandinavia expected to be the next region chosen. Until then UK buyers, and in particular those in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Milton Keynes – though this is a national launch – will be the only ones able to get their hands on the EV.
Mahindra’s plans are fairly relaxed and different compared to what you might expect from a major multi-billion pound company launching in a new market. For example, there are no concrete projected sales figures, and the buying and after sales experience will be digital. The company has done its research though and intends on the e2o being seen more as an electrical device such as a smartphone than a car, where online sales are commonplace.
The customer’s experience is designed to be hassle-free from start to end. There are no dealerships to go and visit, instead customers can arrange for a test drive and the car will be delivered to a certain location. When ordered, the car gets delivered to home, and servicing will be carried out by mobile technicians who will come to the car rather than the other way around. The car will also be transmitting data to engineers while it’s being used to monitor wear and tear, battery condition etc., technology brought over from Mahindra’s Formula E racing outfit.
At the launch, the senior management were keen to remind the audience that Mahindra was one of the founding teams of Formula E, and expects the trickle-down of developed systems from race to road within three to four years. As mentioned, the e2o is almost the launch of Mahindra in the UK as a brand, not just the launch of a new car, and sources revealed that at least one other EV model is in the pipeline – one larger and with a longer range than the e2o.
Sticking with the new car though, the e2o is a tiny four-seat electric city car that has an official range of 79 miles and a top speed of 63mph. The model is available for the full £4,500 PiCG Category 1 funding, with the entry level City trim costing £13,000 as mentioned, while the TechX costs £15,995 – both prices including PiCG and there are no battery leasing costs. Mahindra will also set up hire purchase, PCP and business leasing schemes as values are determined. These haven’t been established yet as prices have only been revealed today.
Charging specifics have been announced with a full charge from a three-pin plug in nine hours. The e2o uses a Type 2 socket for charging and comes with a three-pin cable. The top spec TechX will also be available with ‘rapid charging’ for a 0-95 per cent charge in 90 minutes and has a second socket which fits CHAdEMO connectors.
Mahindra e2o features include app connectivity for pre-conditioning, remote locking, trip planning and setting the charge on a timer. One very interesting feature is a ‘Revive’ function that will give the driver an extra eight miles of range when the battery has been drained, intended to allow them to make it home, or to a charging point. I was told that this is strictly in case of emergency though and has a limit of two or three uses per year. Any more will damage the battery.
The TechX model comes well equipped with a colour touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, WiFi hotspot, DAB radio and reversing camera.
Although Mahindra is pitching for a gap in the EV market, it actually targets conventionally powered car owners, hoping to persuade them that a second car could easily be a small EV. It’s possibly a good call since although there is a bit of a gap in the EV market at that level, the recent price cuts by Peugeot and Citroen on their iON and C-Zero respectively put the small Mitsubishi i-MiEV based models right in the gap where Mahindra is aiming. Both models are similarly priced and a little larger than the e2o.
Although we haven’t been able to try the e2o on the road yet, there was plenty of opportunity to prod and investigate the Mahindra city car. Initial impressions are that weight has been kept to a minimum – which is a backhanded compliment that some features feel cheap and flimsy. The glovebox door, speakers and bottle holders for example don’t scream high quality, but in all seriousness, weight and cost savings are crucial for a car this size.
The e2o does sit four adults, though it’s cosy inside when they are average-sized males and you wouldn’t want to go a long distance with a full complement of passengers. There is a small boot at the back and a surprise load space in the front under the bonnet – as one witty colleague pointed out, just like a Porsche 911 then!
Although the materials used aren’t of the highest quality, the interior did feel fairly well put together, and the top spec model especially is well equipped. We shall wait to pass judgement on the Mahindra e2o until it has been tested on UK roads, but the employees who have tested it said they enjoy the way it drives.
Until then, we the public will have to do as Mahindra is doing – wait and see. There isn’t a huge fanfare, expensive launch, mass creation of dealerships, and expectations announced that simply can’t be matched; and this seems a very sensible way to go about things even if unconventional. The e2o brings a new car and brand to the UK, and if that means even more choice for plug-in car buyers, that can’t be bad at all.