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Electric car to go on sale in Chile

Jul 29, 2008 - EFE

Santiago - A subsidiary of giant Spanish utility Endesa presented here Tuesday a zero-emissions electric car that can reach speeds of up to 80 kph (50 mph) and has a range of 80 kilometers.

The Reva offers a way to ease both the environmental problems of Santiago, which has the second-dirtiest air of any city in Latin America, and the effects of soaring oil prices on Chile, a country that imports 94 percent of the petroleum it uses. Klaus Winkler, the general manager of Endesa's CAM unit, was in Santiago to introduce the two-door vehicle. The Reva has room for two adults and two children and will sell in Chile for around 6 million pesos ($12,000).

Built in India by the Reva Electric Car Company, the car has been on the market for four years both in that South Asian nation and in countries such as Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Malta, Cyprus, Japan and Sri Lanka, with a total of 2,500 units sold.

Reva is currently working on a new model with capacity for four adults, a maximum speed of 120 kph (75 mph) and a range of up to 120 kilometers.

Taking into account the cost of replacing the car's $1,600 battery every three years, the Reva's operating cost is equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered vehicle that gets about 22 kilometers per liter (50 miles per gallon).

The battery, which connects to a standard electric outlet, takes eight hours to fully recharge, but requires only 2 1/2 hours to reach 80 percent power.

Electric motors are three times as efficient as internal combustion engines. And because electricity can be generated from a variety of sources, use of electric vehicles presents the opportunity to reduce dependence on imported oil at a time of soaring crude prices.

The Reva has a special appeal for Chile, where transportation accounts for a third of energy consumption, and for Santiago, where vehicles produce 70 percent of polluting emissions.

The silence of the car's electric motor also contributes to reducing another urban ill: noise pollution. EFE