Maxximo Electric – Van, School Bus & Truck

The year 2014 is coming to and end and pretty soon the Electric variant of the Mahindra Maxximo Van, School Bus and Truck is expected to make its entry. It’s been too long in the waiting and I was expecting it to be released around Diwali 2014. Do note that the Diesel variant had already been running around since 2010 but now I expect it to, finally, make landfall within the next 6 months…bole tho…by December 2014 or maximum by March 2015.

The existing Diesel Maxximo is handed out (without air-conditioning & power steering) as the cattle class carrier. Mahindra did not even bother targeting the family car owner… they prefer to keep this vehicle as a commercial vehicle. The Maxximo could have obeen ffered as a better vehicle with bigger engine, bigger wheel & air-conditioning and with these three in place it would have been an excellent vehicle to own because of the amount of luggage and people it could carry. Whenever the Electric Maxximo is released I hope it to have bigger wheels (at least E2O size if not bigger) as the wheel-well is deep and possibly the only vehicle where you can easily upgrade to much bigger sized wheel. Due to the better torque of the Electric Engine an upgrade to a bigger wheel should not be a big speed problem especially starting off from the traffic lights. It would be a big blunder to offer it without air conditioning option and if they do release it as a non-AC van then they might as well release it without wheels.

I would even demand a 15 inch LED screen for the passengers and 7inch screen-E2O-like on-dash with controls, reverse camera, GPS and  good quality music player. Then…I really wouldn’t mind if the speed limit would still remain around 80kms as that’s the electric car E2O’s limit.  I do expect a range of around 120kms per charge & on the exterior I would definitely like alloy wheels and solar panels on the car roof especially if I am not going in for a roof top carrier… this would increase the range from 120kms to at least 140kms and if I am going to use the car just twice a week I would not need to plug it in to recharge the car. Maxximo Electric Truck could have a range increase of 100kms if the panels are incorporated in the way it is mentioned much below.

Maxximo has a useful grab-pole near the door and even the side-step – this feature should be there in all its vans.

But one of the best thing about this vehicle platform is that it is being released as an all-purpose van, school bus and even a truck. Maybe that’s why Mahindra looks at it as the commercial-vehicle-only workhorse.  I feel with the right size wheels and a little luxury thrown in… this boy can really turn up the heat.The biggest drawback of Maxximo is its tiny wheel paired to its small diesel engine that cannot go over 70kmph. Now note that this is even below the speed of E2O the battery car. I desperately hope that Mahindra Reva can patch this ugly mar by releasing bigger wheel as now with electric engine a bigger size wheel is not too heavy for the engine. The electric variant is obviously going to be faster than its diesel variant .. about

Another drawback is the front bumper of the Maxximo… it stretches much ahead of the wheels rather strangely. Maybe bigger size wheels might decrease this “look” .

Mahindra has introduced the SafeEye tech in the Maxximo Mini Van VX school bus. The highlights of this new feature include:

  • The School Bus comes as a Seven Seater.

  • Integrates GPS based messaging service and real-time tracking of children which is accessible to parents / school administrators on their android phone or PC.

  • SafeEye will provide the following safety notification services to stakeholders while the school bus is in transit:-

  • Location & speed tracking on GPS map and through SMS alert.

  • Emergency notification in case of accidents, deviations from pre-set route or non-scheduled stops, etc.

  • CCTV / Still Camera – tamper proof camera equipment stores video footage up to 48 hours.

  • Webcam / Live Feed – additional option of live feed through 3G network to keep track of school van in transit.

Although the two-cylinder diesel mini truck Maxximo has a payload capacity of 850 kilograms the electric variant will have lesser capacity of around 600 kilograms.

The possibilities with this mini truck is endless.

Mahindra is also looking to export its Maxximo electric to Europe and the US. The cost of the Van starts from Rs 300,000 for the base version. But many a times when selling similar low priced car like Tata Nano everyone imagined the car to sell like hot cakes. But the real problem is that the people who buy low cost car have another problem – that of parking it. Lower income people living in cities like Mumbai, especially the full-family-on-bike folks that were targeted, usually own very little public/private parking space. While a bike can be parked on the edge of the road, in a lane,  on a footpath or even inside the house… finding space to park a car even the tiny Nano Car is very difficult… especially those in buildings in the cities. In India, villages should have been targeted for sales of such cars.

Then there was also this negative publicity from rival companies that “Nanos were bursting into flames” that completely stopped the early sales. Tatas are a trusted brand in India, even the brand “Sachin Tendulkar” comes second, yet some how, for almost a year the people felt let down by the company … but now enough people have bought a Nano car for everybody else to realize that it is not some “cheap” car nor is the company pulling a fast one on them. People are finally coming to terms with the Indian ingenuity and its frugal engineering… Nano, E2O and ISRO Space Missions are not just low cost but have cutting technology.

Maxximo Truck – excellent choice for start up business

These were the only two reasons reason that Nano sold less than expected.  Also releasing a car with only one side mirror,  no A/C, & no Power Steering options were not very clever of Tata either and customer-surveys finally arm twisted Tatas to implement the basics amenities and this warned Tatas not to brand its Nano customers as cattle class. Finally a case where the Indian lower-middle class asserted themselves. Today, the Nano has brought about these minor upgrades and one can see that the Nano has notched up steady sales and the sales will only improve as the price of petrol keeps increasing.

See Safe Eye Video below:

Coming back to the vehicle… Maxximo Mini Van School Bus is the only car/van/bus to offer such excellent safety features. The Bus provides safety measures in compliance with all the regulatory requirements on school bus safety. It comes with a frontal crash structure and side-impact beams to minimize impact of collisions. The vehicle also has child locks for the rear doors, fire extinguisher, an emergency exit, a first aid kit and a glass breaking hammer for emergencies. Prices for the Diesel variant with Live streaming was Rs 4,90,000, add another 3,00,000 for the Electric battery plus conversion and the price should be in the range of Rs 8,00,000 similar to E2O but offering amazing utility.

The Maxximo chassis is a tough nut  as there is an impact absorbing structure between the front bumper and chassis minimizes chances of injury in case of a collision.Take a view of its crash test below:

The Maxximo van can also be custom designed like the Omni-Licious Café:

If Mahindra for a while can let Maxximo grow above the commercial (cattle class) Category then I feel that there will be 4 Category of people who will find a Maxximo immensely attractive:

Did you count the number of people?… did ya? EIGHT and all comfortable!

1.      The small family The Indian small family usually consists of 6 people (1 couple, 2 children and 2 grandparents). The DINKS (Double Income No Kids folks) too would find this car useful and they will be able to cart more of their friends & grocery around than their friends with 5-seater-car. Carrying 8 people instead of 4 or 5 is almost double the capacity and that clearly doubles the “real value” of the car.. and when one goes on a trip doesn’t one like to drag all of their friends along?

Omni vs Maxximo comparison:

2. The Tourist Agent/Private Taxi guys  get business by way of:

  • customers wanting to travel with family around the city either on tours or as private taxies.

  • traveling longer distance or to reach various spots across towns in a single day.

PictureGuys with Travel & Tours agency will love the Maxximo Van

The prices usually start with an “alto” for less than 4 people and if there are more people the a SUV like Tata sumo/Chevy Tavera/Scorpio is preferred. But now the option is available for the Maxximo to be placed between the Alto and the Sumo as the people carrier.

Picture

3. Small time Business people who have to move either people or cargo or both around a lot would find this vehicle the most useful. In the above pic you can see 30-year-old Ruba S. who is up in the morning by 5am and after her husband loads jasmine flowers from a field in Salem, Tamil Nadu, on to her 1.25-tonne light commercial vehicle (LCV). At 6 am, she starts on her 160-km drive to Hosur, an upcoming industrial city in Tamil Nadu close to South Bangalore on the Bangalore-Madurai highway. Hosur is also a meeting point of flower traders before they finally reach Bangalore. Ruba arrives in Hosur by 9 am, delivers all her flowers to the market and leaves for Salem by 11 am with a load of fruits and vegetables. “The LCV has changed my life. It made me an entrepreneur when I noticed that with a small truck, multiple deliveries can be made inter-city or within a city,” she says. This is her second LCV in four years, and she is confident of being able to repay the Rs 3 lakh loan in three years. “The new LCV takes more load and is a powerful vehicle, allowing my deliveries to be faster and, consequently, recover cash faster too,” she says.

Picture

4.   Private vehicle that drops kids to schoolIf I had to drop a bunch of kids to school I would want this vehicle, especially if I was using this a fleet of 5 to 10 such vans to drop kids around. Best thing is I would be able to monitor the speed and where each van is anytime from home. The space inside would also mean the van can also accommodate even more kids than 8…possibly 12 kids… now don’t blame me… that’s how most drivers think. So if I had a fleet of 10 vans I would be dropping around 120 kids to school… which is more than what a big size bus can manage. Also for a bigger bus to reach 120 pickup locations would take an obscene amount of time while 10 small buses can easily manage 120 pickup locations within an hour. Combine that with zero refueling expense (if recharged via solar panels), zero maintenance and less working time for the vehicles the only expense would be the salary to the drivers.

Vehicle Tracking System:
If a cross country trip was to be made this would be the vehicle of my choice! My whole team, friends and family would know where I at any moment of time if the data is shared with them!

See below how the Vehicle Tracking works:

In the below video check out the shock-absorbers movement of Mahindra (around 0:03 to 0:06)… the wheels move quite a long way up and down… minimizing the jerks.

Maxximo Diesel with modified luggage area this area could have Solar Panels on top, front, sides and rear.

Malayalam review of its Diesel variant below:

Excellent official video of the Mahindra Gio Diesel starting at 165,000 a vehicle that gives a milage of 27 kmpl:

The electric version of the Gio is also expected along with the release of Maxximo. Gio costing just 165,000 could also bring out a proper electric auto rickshaw . This Electric Autorickshaws can double the income of the owners and drivers if they make the switch from petrol to electric as they will not have to pay for petrol or waste time standing in long CNG queues.

Check out below the Gio diesel auto rickshaw feedback in Hind. These feedbacks are given by people who are not only well aware of vehicles and have been driving different kind of vehicles for thousands of kilometers in their entire life and each video is very good feedback unlike feedback of a car user who drives probably 300kms a month. These vehicle owners cum drivers have driven about 5,000km per month driving an average of 166kms per day. Now 166 kms per day that too for multiple clients is quite a short distance. This short distances (166kms) makes both Gio & Maximo perfect choice for an electric vehicle. While it may be true for a car owner to travel interstate and over 200kms-600kms to holiday spots the commercial vehicle runs mostly within a much shorter perimeter. I sense these electric commercial vehicles to do better business than E2O will ever do in India , at the same time once these owners become aware of the benefits of Electric vehicles they would start buying E2O thus the effects will rub on E2O sales. Thus these commercial vehicles will only help the sales of E2O.

Geo Mini Truck feedback:

Excellent user feedback of Gio Mini Truck (diesel) in Marath below:

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