He is one of the trailblazers in the field of sustainability mobility across the world. Poised on the cusp of another huge achievement in his career, Chetan Maini, CEO Mahindra Reva, tells us of his participation in the Formula E Circuit and how he successfully perfected and popularized the model of India’s firstever green car.
When most other boys were playing football and video games, Chetan Maini was building cars. Making remotecontrolled cars and planes was a hobby that manifested into a career path for this technologist. By the time he was a teen he was building motorised go-carts. His father Sudarshan Maini, who owned an electronics business at that time, nurtured his son’s hobby by encouraging him to build more cars and, many times, even sent engineers from his company to help the then young Chetan out with his projects. It was at the University of Michigan, where he was studying mechanical engineering that the idea of a cost-effective electrical vehicle first struck him. “I was a member of the Solar Car Team; we built a car that was powered by the sun and raced across the American sub-continent. We won the GM Sun Race in 1990 and it was post this that I began seriously thinking about building something eco-friendly, yet cost effective in India,” recalls Maini. After a stint in Amerigon Electric Vehicles in California, where he helped develop and design electric and hybrid vehicles, he chose to return home. “I came back to India in 1999 and realised that despite the West having embraced the idea of electric vehicles, we were still lagging behind. My family encouraged me to go ahead with my plans and I had to don many new hats – those of an entrepreneur and marketing man – in order to pursue my vision,” explains Maini.
Today, apart from the E20 small car, the company is bringing out a host of new products. They’re electrifying numerous platforms for Mahindra, their mother company; they have branched out into the Formula E circuit and have introduced the Halo electric sports car to the market. “Our products are in 24 countries across the globe and we have been named in the list of 50 most innovative companies worldwide. Things are looking up for us now,” tells the dynamic CEO of Mahindra Reva.
Not one to stand for opulence, Chetan Maini says he owns two E20 Revas, but aspires to own the Halo sport scar once it hits the market. His dream drive though is the Lamborghini Countach, a set of wheels that he has dreamed of owning since he was a young boy. Another of his hot favourites is the Tesla electric car, a drive he often indulges in whenever he heads back to the United States. “It’s only in Bangalore, when I am heading out with my family, that I drive a non-electric vehicle. But this is only because of the space constraints of our electric cars,” he tells. He also tells us (in an aside) that he is now working on the design for an electric bike in his spare hours and hopes he can come up with a viable model sometime soon.
Married and with two young kids, much of Maini’s love for technology has been inherited by his son, who loves to play with the remote controlled cars that his dad built and to create his own motor mechanisms. An outdoorsy person, Maini says he often indulges in off-road biking, scuba diving and making model helicopters, as and when time permits. However, his true love is designing electric cars and that’s what he’s perfecting each day.