Revving up a revolution

Reva Electric Car Company managing director Chetan Maini describes the agony and ecstasy behind the making of the Reva, India's first electric car

Chetan Maini Bangalore: As a sixth-standard student, he built a remote-controlled toy car and won a school prize. Later, he started building toy planes and a go-cart with a scooter engine. As a mechanical engineering student, he built solar and hybrid cars. Capping it all, he designed and built India's first electric car, the Reva. And, today, he claims he can make the Reva run on a mobile phone battery.

That is 33-year-old, six-foot-tall, broad-shouldered Chetan Maini, managing director, Reva Electric Car Company, Bangalore, for you.

"Even at the age of seven I used to fix electrical equipment and also did some carpentry. As a child I did break toys," says the third and the youngest son of Sudarshan K Maini, the founder of the Rs 80-crore Maini group.

Sudarshan Maini is known to do things differently. For instance, Maini Precision Products was the first Indian company to supply high-precision components to General Motors (GM) and the first small-scale unit to supply to Bosch, Germany. Similarly, Maini Material Movement became the first Indian company to export complete material-handling solution under the Indian brand name to Europe.

To emerge out of the overwhelming shadow of the father was tough. But the junior-most Maini has effectively accomplished that with his Reva car. "Going to the US at 18 to study was the first major turning point in my life," says Maini.