Indian Electric Car May be Built in Upstate New York

Last Updated Sep 21, 2009 1:26 PM EDT

India's Reva Electric Car Company may be planning to build a multimillion-dollar auto plant in upstate New York. According to a perhap overeager report in Syracuse's Post-Standard, the deal includes both state and federal incentives and is in its final negotiating phase.

Amazingly enough, because Reva has delivered some 2,000 battery cars it is the global frontrunner at the moment. Although its bare-bones two-seat EV (marketed as the G-Wiz in Britain and the Reva in India) is not very good (see my test drive, in Iceland--), it is inexpensive ($6,000 to $8,000) and available--and ideal for avoiding London's onerous $8 a day congestion charge (it's even higher for gas guzzlers).

Encouraging initial sales led Reva to announce last February that it would double production and build a new factory in Bangalore with capacity to produce 30,000 cars annually. The company also upped the ante at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week with two new, more attractive and presumably more credible EVs, the four-seat hatchback NXR, and a two-seat sports car called the NXG (for 2011). It's the NXR that would be built in Syracuse or its environs.

It's unclear if the Reva car plant in New York's Onondaga County would be dependent on the $40 million in federal Department of Energy loan guarantee funding the company is waiting to hear about. The newspaper report said the plant would employ 100, but those jobs aren't in the "help wanted" columns yet. The Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York, another possible funder, declined comment to Cleantech Group because the deal "isn't finalized."

According to the newspaper, however, "several government and development officials said this week that almost all of the pieces are in place to make the deal, including state and federal financial incentives."

Unlike China's BYD, Reva does not have any of Warren Buffett's money. It's a joint venture between India's Maini Group and California's AEV, with some financing from the Global Environmental Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.