Yesterday General Motors began displaying and testing a Volt-related, all-electric version of its Chevrolet Beat minicar in New Delhi.

The EV is not being proposed for sale anytime soon, but India was chosen as a demanding environment – as well as growing market – to demonstrate the car.

The potential world market EV is actually the latest battery electric conversion by GM, which has previously announced electric vehicle demonstration programs in Germany, Korea, and China.


Chevrolet Beat Electric launch. From Left: GM Vice Prsident, Corporate Affairs, P. Balendran, GM India President and Managing Director, Karl Slym, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Sumit Sawhney. (Photo credit: Indian Autos Blog).

The Beat Electric is powered by a 300-cell, 20-kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery similar to what is in the Volt, but larger for the smaller, but non-range-extended car.

It is said to be good for about 130 km (81 miles) of normal driving. Recharge time with 240-volt power is under eight hours.

A single-speed drive unit and an electric motor producing about 45-kW (60 horsepower) turn the front wheels.

No top speed or other tech specs were listed for the latest EV being shown by its North American-based maker in several markets other than its home market.

GM’s Kevin M. Kelly, manager, electric vehicle and hybrid communications, told us a bit about the German and Korean EVs of which readers of GM-Volt may already be familiar as they may also of GM's Chinese ventures.

In Germany, the electric GM/Opel Meriva, announced September 2010, has a 60-kW (82-horsepower) electric motor with torque output of 215 Nm (159 foot-pounds). Its 16 kWh battery delivers range of 64 km (40 miles), and top speed of 130 kph (81 mph).

Opel Meriva EV1.

GM said Opel's engineers integrated the electric drive without making concessions on luggage capacity or comfort.

"The electric Meriva may look like the production car, but is a pure research-vehicle. We are testing charging at high currents in less than one hour, as well as the communication protocols between the vehicle and charging station,” said Opel Vice President of Engineering Rita Forst.

In Korea, on October 2010, it was announced that three Cruzes and seven GM Daewoo Lacetti Premieres were converted to all-electric spec.

The 10 Cruze/Lacetti EVs are equipped with a 31-kWh battery and generates maximum power of 150 kW (201 horsepower). The products in the demonstration fleet have been monitored closely to determine the amount of real-world range achievable by vehicles of their size.


GM Daewoo Lacetti Premiere EV and Chevrolet Cruze EV.

On specific test schedules conducted by LG Chem, the demonstration vehicles may achieve a range of up to 160 km (100 miles). The vehicles can go from 0 to 100 kph (60 mph) in 8.2 seconds with a maximum speed of 165 kph (102.5 miles per hour).

In China, GM said in April this year it would showcase none other than the Volt as well as the Electric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V) concept. We have not heard of any EV conversions there yet.

The Chinese Volt and EN-V were part of a test drive involving officials from the Shanghai Municipal Government, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the International Energy Agency, along with representatives from Electric Vehicle Initiatives (EVI) member countries and pilot cities.


Gives a new meaning to being green with EN-V. We were not able to confirm whether this one gets five NHTSA stars for frontal impact protection, but kind of doubt it.

GM said it would help promote the demonstration and commercialization of electric vehicles in China by sharing its latest advanced technology achievements and expertise, contributing to the development of electric vehicle infrastructure and standards, facilitating international exchanges and promoting electric vehicles.

“No company has made greater advances in vehicle electrification than GM,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. “We are pleased to be sharing our achievements and expanding our cooperation to ensure a cleaner, greener future for China and its people.”

While the China, Korea, and Germany stories may be old(er) news for some of you, the big news this week is in India regarding GM’s latest Chevrolet EV presumably made with trickle-down-tech from the Volt.

When we last reported on the India Beat , the rumors were it would be shown in April, but plans were stalled.

Initially, GM and REVA had intended to bring a Spark EV to market, but those ties were severed, and GM built its own Beat EV instead – as a show car for now.


Side view of a standard ICE Beat.

While a price of around $7,771 had been estimated for the GM/REVA e-Spark, Indian Autos Blog observed even if the Beat Electric was offered to the public, it would be a tough sell, as its “L-Ion batteries are way too expensive for the cost-conscious Indian buyer who experiences frequent power cuts at home and work.”

Instead, a Beat diesel is expected to be the new workhorse of the line due later in July.

Tailored for India

As it is, GM said it timed the Beat EV to join its fellow GM EVs in honor of the recent World Environment Day (June 5), and its engineers would evaluate it as a world environmentally sensitive car.

“General Motors is committed to providing customers around the world with electrification technologies that will reduce their fuel consumption, helping them save money. GM India will lead in this ‘tailored for India’ demo program for battery electric technology, with Chevrolet Beat chosen as the best way to evaluate the technology, said Karl Slym, president and managing director, General Motors India. “We are delighted that Chevrolet selected India as an important market to test battery electric technology, while recognizing the capabilities of our engineering team to help identify ways to make this technology more affordable.”


Chevrolet Beat EV. (Photo credit: Indian Autos Blog)

Aside from Beat EV, GM India is already offering a range of alternate fuel vehicles including Chevrolet Beat LPG, Chevrolet Spark LPG and Chevrolet Aveo CNG.

The Beat EV could lead to a viable city car in many markets, and surely there would be buyers for a version of it in the U.S. as well.

Coincidentally, automaker Think Global of Norway declared bankruptcy a couple days ago, and will not be launching its similar purpose $36,495 City minicar in North America.

We know of no plans to bring the Chevrolet Beat EV to North America, but if it could one day be offered in India for around one-quarter to one-third the sidelined U.S. Think's price, we dare say it could be a seller even at two-to-three times the Indian price in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Kelly was not at liberty to divulge any North American advanced-tech plans, but he did say GM is looking at all kinds of options for the North American market, including EVs.

He did say GM is figuring out how best to tailor a car for the U.S. but there is “no firm timing” for when GM’s home market will see even an experimental EV like they already have had particularly in Germany, Korea, and now India.

What do you think GM-Volt readers? Aside from the Volt and what ever Voltec model is next, is America ready for a General Motors battery electric vehicle of its own?

Sources: Indian Autos Blog , GM India , Korea demonstration fleet , Opel MeRegioMobil Demonstration , Shanghai EV International Pilot City Partnership