Hyundai i10 electric unveiled by SRK at Auto Expo 2010

Hyundai India’s brand ambassador Shahrukh Khan unveiled the Hyundai i10 electric car at the on-going Auto Expo 2010 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

First things first. The car is ‘unveiled’, not launched. There was no information on when the car would be actually launched. All that has happened is that we know Hyundai has an electric version of its popular small car i10, and we got to see it.

Hyundai i10 electric specs

A 16 kw lithium ion polymer battery powers a 49 kw electric motor. Lithium ion batteries are what are being used in almost all electric cars currently being produced, as they are lighter and more efficient.

Maximum driving range on a single charge is 100 miles. Top speed is 80 miles per hour, and torque produced by the electric motor is 155lb-ft.

On normal home electricity, a full charge for the Hyundai i10 electric car takes almost 5 hours – plug it in the night, and the car is ready for you to drive some 160 kilometers during the day.

Electric cars, once they start offering a max driving range of 160 kms and so on, start being practical. After all, most people do not drive a 100 kms during a single day. 160 kms means you can drive to a nearby city also, even though very long drives are still an impossibility.

Hyundai i10 electric price

No prices were announced. But we have some bad news for you. Information coming form the General Motors camp suggests that the Chevrolet e-Spark will cost close to Rs 7 lakhs. It may not be true – but if it is, when the Hyundai i10 electric car is launched in India, chances are price would not be very different.

Is that an acceptable price for an electric car?

No. Considering the limitations of an electric car – limited driving range, overnight charging hassles etc – people would be willing to pay a premium for low-cost electric driving around, but not more than Rs 1 lakh more than the comparable petrol variant. If an electric car would cost say 40 % more than the price of the petrol variant, all perceived value disappears.

Currently, the Hyundai i10 is the highest selling model from the Korean car manufacturer in India, overtaking its cheaper Santro Xing.

Why we should, or should not, buy electric cars

Do not buy an electric car for the sake of the environment – seriously. While your electric car might be a non-polluting, zero emissions car, the electricity which charges the battery more often than not comes from highly polluting sources such as coal. Your own car does not pollute, but the electricity which charges it does not come pollution-free. You are just moving the pollution from the road to another place.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a city runabout – both the upcoming electric cars (Hyundai i10 electric and Chevrolet e-Spark) – will offer you sufficient power, driving range and reasonable charging time, apart from the strength of their own companies service networks.

You will save a bit on petrol – electricity is much cheaper than petrol, and you will definitely save on running costs. On the other hand, it is going to take a long time for you recover the extra price you pay for the electric car. Which is why we said earlier that an electric car does not make sense if it is priced more than Rs 1 lakh above its petrol version.