REYKJAVIK, ICELAND—Believe it or not, the Indian-made Reva EV is the most popular electric car on the planet today—there are more than 2,000 on world roads. The Reva is a comparative bestseller (nobody’s selling a lot of EVs yet), despite the fact that the car is, to put it mildly, not very good.

The great advantage of the Reva is a) It’s cheap; and b) It benefits from European laws favoring EVs, such as free parking and freedom from the London congestion tax.

But did I say it’s not a very good car? With much hilarity, a team from the British show Top Gear crashed a Reva into a table. The table won. Independent safety tests had appalling results. The British media have had a lot of fun with the Reva. I’d never actually seen one until encountering an example here at the Driving Sustainability ’09 conference. I was blithely handed the keys, my first drive ever in Iceland. Here’s a look at the car on video:

The two-seater Reva had a Blaupunkt Mumbai stereo with “My Sweet Lord” playing as I took my drive, sliding front windows (saves weight), cloth seats, a red painted metal dash and a small dial gearshift. There are a variety of models, but no big difference between them. With lead-acid batteries (a lithium-ion version is also available), it has a range of about 50 miles—if you’re willing to stay in it that long.

I floored the Reva on the busy streets of Reykjavik and found myself doing a heady 30 mph (after a while, that is). Then I reached a stoplight, which allows me to say categorically that the Reva has the worst brakes I’ve ever encountered on a car.

But help is on the way. At the Frankfurt Motor Show today, Reva showed off its NXR, a much improved (and much cuter) car with lithium-ion batteries. Icelandic entrepreneurs have been looking for available EVs to jump-start the country’s electric car infrastructure, and I would suggest looking only at the NXR, not the dismal one I drove. In Europe, the NXR will sell for 15,000 euros. There are no current plans to sell any Reva in the U.S., but don’t lose sleep over it.

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.