Indian Renault Kwid ‘hybrid’ travels 150 km in EV mode [Update]

Kerala-based HyMotiv company has created the world’s first Renault Kwid hybrid electric car as a project with no plans for immediate commercialization. The base car the alternative energy mobility solutions provider has used is a Renault Kwid 0.8 SCe and the specs are impressive.

The Renault Kwid 0.8 SCe comes with a 799 cc naturally aspirated three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 54 PS (53.24 hp) and 72 Nm of peak torque at 4,386 rpm. The modified Renault Kwid has an additional 34 hp electric power, and interestingly the extra power drives the rear wheels. The electric motors generate approximately 65% of the system power, which means that the car drives more using electric energy than petrol.

HyMotiv has used American electric motors and controllers and a Chinese battery pack in the Renault Kwid hybrid. It does plan to replace the latter with a locally made battery pack as the next step. The battery used is much bigger than in typical hybrid electric cars, as it gives a driving range of 150 km. In hybrid mode, where the Renault Kwid Hybrid effectively becomes an AWD vehicle, it is possible to achieve a fuel economy of 48 km/l. For reference, the regular Renault Kwid with the 0.8-litre SCe engine has a fuel economy rating (ARAI) of 20.71 km/l.

Renault Kwid electric (K-ZE)
India will get a pure electric Renault Kwid priced well below Rs 10 lakh. Renault K-ZE (Renault Kwid electric for China) pictured for reference.

The Renault Kwid hybrid HyMotiv is not just electrified but safer, because it has disc brakes at the rear. HyMotiv has developed a fatigue detection system that is not built into the car but inside special spectacles worn by the driver. If he/she closes eyes, an alarm is set off in two levels; the first-level alarm gives a haptic feedback with a vibration, and the second-level alarm gives even audio warnings from the speakers additionally. The team intends to work on monitoring brain waves to enhance the fatigue detection system’s accuracy.

We caught up with Iype Koshi, Chairman and Managing Director at Hymotiv Private Limited, and here’s what he told us about the project:

We did the Kwid as a retrofit model, we’re a startup company, we established in September last year. It’s not just the Kwid, but we can do this for any other vehicle. Depending on the capacity and weight of the vehicle, we may have to design a different motor.

We are done with 99% of the vehicle, and in fact car manufacturers have started contacting us, and we have started talking with them. What we thought originally was that old or used vehicles can be retrofitted with batteries and in-wheel motors and get ARAI certification. We are looking for partners who can understand the product and further market it commercially.

On the price of the retrofitment, Koshy said:

If the car (Kwid) is given, it may cost Rs. 5 lakh for the kit. The cost depends on the Lithium Ion battery used – if you want a higher capacity and mileage, naturally the cost is higher. 70 per cent of the cost goes towards the Lithium Ion battery. We are having a tie-up with a company in Kerala that is assembling Lithium Ion batteries for this project.

When asked if the company plans to retrofit the Kwid as pure electric vehicle, he said:

We have a car like that – we have converted a Maruti 800 to an electric vehicle. I feel that hybrid works better for the transition period, there are not many charging stations and the charging time is a lot, it may take 4 or 5 years to come to that stage where there is enough charging infrastructure.

People will be reluctant in buying electric cars because there is a question of how they can charge when traveling to another city. That is why we stuck with a hybrid solution – if the distance is less than 150 km, you can switch off the engine and use it as an electric vehicle. Many people in India cannot afford to have a second vehicle for doing long distance journeys.