In the United States, General Motors is completely sold on extended-range electric vehicles — like the new Chevrolet Volt — but isn’t too quick to commit to the idea of a new battery electric vehicle. Abroad, that isn’t the case; in fact, the automaker just begun testing a new electrified version of the Chevrolet Beat for the Indian market.
The Beat EV (also known in some markets as the Spark; no pun intended) is powered by a 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and propelled by a 45 kW (60 hp) motor and a single-speed drive unit. GM indicates that under normal driving conditions, the Beat EV’s range should be in the neighborhood of 81 miles. Recharging time is estimated to be close to eight hours when using a 240-volt charger.
Those numbers are a bit shy of the current gasoline-powered Beat 1.2, whose 1.2-liter I-4 yields 80 hp while returning an estimated 44 mpg on a combined test cycle.
Still, the Beat BEV is part of GM’s “tailored for India” engineering program, which was created in an attempt to demonstrate and inject greener technologies into the country’s fleet. It’s no small feat, either, with car ownership in India exploding exponentially within the past decade. The range may not suit India’s longest of commutes or heaviest of lead feet, but it could cope well with India’s average commute length of 29 minutes and infamous traffic jams.
For now, the car remains merely a prototype, but if Indian motorists express a sincere interest in electric cars and the country’s charging infrastructure continues to grow, don’t be surprised if GM pushes an electrified offering into the growing market in the years to come.