Mahindra Atom all set to become India’s most affordable electric four-wheeler [Update]

Dr Pawan Goenka, Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, has confirmed that the Atom would be launched in early 2021. Speaking to journalists over a call last week, he said “The Atom got delayed because of COVID-19, but we expect to launch it sometime in the fourth quarter of this financial year.”

Mahindra testers last month resumed trials of the Atom electric quadricycle, and the prototype here is from around the company’s R&D centre shot by reader Harshavardhana. Unveiled at the Auto Expo 2020, there is nothing different about its design or features.

Mahindra Atom Spy shot rear view

EVW has learned that the Mahindra Atom does not feature battery swapping (like the concept previewed in 2018) as the FAME II scheme does not cover it. Battery cost is not counted under the cost of the vehicle if it is a swappable model, and hence fixed battery is more popular.

Mahindra recently ‘teased’ features of its electric quadricycle in a post on Facebook. The Atom will become the first electric vehicle in the segment, seat four people (including the driver) and introduce itself as a green last-mile connectivity vehicle. Some of the listed features are Easy Luggage Loading, Large Glasses for an airy feel and ‘Extra’ interior space.

Mahindra Atom’s launch date affected by COVID-19

Showcased in production form at the 2020 Auto Expo (February), the Atom was announced to launch in the third quarter of 2020 but the pandemic had affected the supply of components, validation and testing, pushing the launch to early 2021. Now, how the shared mobility segment is affected due to social distancing can only be gauged when cities reopen fully. The Atom was Mahindra’s disruptor for the last-mile mobility segment with its roomy cabin and premium features. Not just Mahindra, but any player trying to enter this segment would be watchful.

Mahindra Atom specifications

The Mahindra Atom electric quadricycle, like the Mahindra Treo electric rickshaw and the Mahindra eKUV100 electric car, is a MESMA 48 platform product. The light EV platform supports batteries with a voltage ranging from 44 V to 96 V and motors with power and torque ranging from 6 kW to 40 kW and 40 Nm to 120 Nm respectively.

Technical details of the Mahindra Atom are unreleased but expect a power output of 8-10 kW, a real-world range of about 75 km per charge, a charging time of about 4 hours, and a top speed limited to 50-60 km/h on this Driver+3 seater vehicle. The Atom will receive 4G connectivity option that makes bookings and payments easy for users, an app that provides the driver with the status of the vehicle, while features like seat belts, air-conditioner, a winding window for the driver, 12V power outlets and steering wheel make it quite advanced to the current offerings in the market. However, there is no swappable battery system on the Atom, like the concept that previewed it two years ago. Unlike a passenger car, the Atom does not have ABS or an airbag.

The Mahindra Atom will be featuring a more advanced yet affordable thermal management system for its batteries, says Mahindra’s Chief Technology Officer, Martin Murray, in a video interaction with ET Auto on Youtube.com:

We have now developed a couple of different class-leading, affordable thermal systems for batteries. In the past, we have actually had some patents in the thermal management using air cooling that was designed looking at air flow and consistency of thermal management throughout the battery pack using air cooling. Now, we are in the process of launching the most affordable electric four-wheeler in India using thermal management with liquid cooling and we were able to do this based on experience. Looking at the system with some tools, we had some confidence and we ended up matching the performance in the laboratory with the performance that we modelled very closely. So we think that we will have very quickly have an excellent thermal performance of the battery which translates into life and into utility for the customer. Those are the areas where we have already been able to apply the technology very effectively and we are going to do it more in the future with the confidence and with the experience we gained in this application.

Expect the price of the Mahindra Atom at around the Rs. 3.75 lakh mark.