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Start Here – Journey to sustainability

I’m set to receive the Tata Nexon EV soon (as in, tomorrow). One of the objectives of these writings is to share the homework and learnings I’ve been doing on the way so far. Here’s the first post logging everything for the benefit of the fellow current and future green-footed people!

Prelude

I’ve been sensitized to the whole EV concept since 2003, since I set foot in Bangalore for my first job, and saw the cute Reva there on the streets. However my electric urges didn’t take centerstage till Elon did his thing with Tesla.

Since then, I’ve been hoping to be a part of the movement myself since a reasonably long time.

The core intent is the ethical aspect of it all. You see, “change what we can”. That, and well, I can’t help not trying to buy the latest cool thing. But we’re trying to look great here, so let’s not talk about that. Ok. Well. And since I’ve already taken the jump (and burned the money), I intend to further the cause by sharing of my journey with EVs here. Hopefully the transparency will speed things up at both sides – the manufacturers, as well as the customers.

The Nexon EV

How I came to conclude on the Nexon EV (I’m going to call it NEV for the rest of this post) is a topic for another blog post, but the events which led to its purchase are as follows. We have a Ciaz AMT petrol 2017 model, whose instalments ended in May this year (2020). My dad drove an old but faithful Alto, and I decided to force him to exchange our cars, and promised him that I’ll be getting a car truly “for myself” soon. (no I didn’t identify with the Ciaz). TBH, a few days driving the old Alto speeded things up ๐Ÿ™‚

The test drive

I soon got in touch (early September 2020) with the dealership to test drive the NEV. They came 30kms to where I live from the showroom, and it was raining continuously that day. I drove the vehicle on a 15km route to my office, which actually is in a suburb of Jaipur, and the path is full of real big potholes which swallow your entire car at times, and “desi” speed-breakers made by the villagers. Those who’ve experienced them know what I mean. It is typically an electricity pole laid tall-edge-up across the road, with cement filled on the sides to make their small “walls” look like slopes. Also, these are made at the whim of whoever decides that the vehicles are going too fast in front of their homes. On village roads, there can be as many as six of them in a span of 100 meters.

So, this was the proving ground of the NEV. About the Ciaz and the Alto, they always scrap their bellies at more than one place unless they are made to climb obliquely on these “speed-breakers”!

However, NEV rode high and graceful through these challenges. It could totally prove itself by way of example.

I also gave a shot to the famed “S” mode, and it lived up to its hype. The Ciaz is definitely nowhere near that acceleration. Earlier I used to drive a Getz petrol manual, which I loved for its first gear kick. The S mode of the NEV easily exceeded that kick by a good margin. The wheels literally spin in place the moment you press the pedal, till the Car’s momentum catches up and the thing gets moving.

The “D” mode, however, isn’t great. The acceleration in the 0 to 20 kph zone feels slower than needed (even if you floor the pedal). Definitely slower than Ciaz AMT’s. It’s workable though.

Other members of the family loved it too. A general comment was, “it doesn’t feel very different than the Ciaz”. (they’ve been burned by the e2o, when I once tried to forcibly convince them into buying it 6 years back).

Dad had comments about the lesser cabin space, and the lack of that premium door-closing “thud”, the general logic being, a car this costly must feel more premium than this. But the SUV feel over the sedan was recognized and appreciated.

Anyway, it was meant to come to our home the day TATA launched it, and the test drive was just a formality. The good thing about the test drive was, no deal-breakers were raised by family members. (as I mentioned earlier, the e2o purchase was sabotaged at this stage. More on that someday later).

Some more notes on the test drive: The dealership (Roshan motors, Ajmer Road Jaipur) took about 4 days to bring the Vehicle over for the test drive. The reason I got (which was true, as I later noted) was that the Key salesperson for EVs, Dharmendra, was on leave.

The day Dharmendra returned, he called me, and got the Vehicle for the test drive the next day.

Before the purchase

One unexpected, but admittedly pleasant, thing that I noted was, nobody followed up on me after the test drive was delivered. Classically, the salesmen turn into bloodhounds after the act ๐Ÿ˜€

Dharmendra, on the other hand, is a darling!

The odd follow up calls started coming after 4-5 days, and once every 3 days or so.

Anyway, I don’t think it is due to a policy or such. Because whenever Dharmendra called, he would always try to drum up urgency and rush me ๐Ÿ™‚ this was even after when I assured him that I’m already getting the vehicle, the comfort which I never really could see in his soul till the final day!

I always found their customer-handling somewhat rustic. For example, a few days back, when I was on the 90% preparation mark, and hoped to close the remaining 10% in the next meeting, I asked Dharmendra to “come over for some discussions across the table”, he was rather clear at saying that I should call him only when he can hope to win the booking.

However, somehow I didn’t get upset, and I confirmed that I’m almost certain that’s why I’m calling him over!

Well, after the test drive, I did all the customary geek stuff – made myself sick binge-reading all the Internet matching “Nexon-EV”, seeing all the repetitive reviews made by random people, including those made by Malayali guys, and other such stuff. Here are some resources I found that you might find interesting:

Resources

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There is a Nexon Owners Club on twitter and they are kind of a common voice of first-adopters. They have also compiled a grievances list and gave it all at a meeting with the VP of electric mobility at Tata Motors, Mr. Kulkarni! Good place to join! Also see their Youtube channel to get immediately disillusioned about the Nexon EV :D. If you drop your decision to buy the NEV after visiting here, you are doing the right thing. If you decide to still buy the NEV, you are doing a righteous thing. (as in the world will be thankful to you like it is to the unnamed martyrs. That should be a joke. Amen).

Next up, team-bhp.com is a goldmine. google search “nexon ev inurl:team-bhp”, and read all that comes up. You will be a thousand times wiser. But they seem to have a constitution of their own. the team-bhp seems like a cultish thing if you wish plan on posting there.

Then, we have pluginindia.com. The videos and blog posts are great. I found this great NEV range test video from this blog. There are quite a few respectable users, who you will start relating to by the time you are done!

We also have a nexon EV section on teslaclub.in. It is not exactly full of NEV users, but the admin is very prompt and helpful. Expect your posts to be immediately replied to.

PDC, insurance and paperwork

Well, I am buying the vehicle like I’m duty-bound for it. So, despite the vehicle-buying season still some days away, I’m still getting it tomorrow because why not.

Price

The dealership has given me a handsome discount (atleast so I think). The XZ+ is costing me, landed, at Rs. 15.5 Lakhs. (RTO: Jaipur). On top, the dear Dharmendra extended the festive offer of 2 years free AMC, worth approx. 20k, to my vehicle AFTER my booking was done.

Pre-Delivery Checks

Over the internet, I’ve read experiences of people saying dealers tried to pass old vehicles as new, and other mis-experiences. I carried three learnings:

  1. Verify the vehicle mfg date from VIN number, don’t take the dealer’s word for it.
  2. Verify the ODO so you know you’re not getting a demo car.
  3. Verify the ECU software version (2.07 or greater at the time of this writing) because that piece of logic affects mileage directly.

In my case, the dealer Roshan Motors, and my salesperson, Dharmendra, both turned out to be gems (alongwith Amit, the tech guy handling NEVs for Rajasthan). What they said (vehicle mfg date 1st sep and dealer’s billing date 14th sep) tallied with the VIN number.

My VIN is located on the lower left corner of the driver side door-frame. Another interesting thing: my vehicle is the 1233rd vehicle to walk off the assembly line ๐Ÿ™‚

You can check the mfg date and month for tata vehicles from here.

The ODO was 20 kms. Great.

The ECU software version is 2.07. Great. This means that I can expect the latest efficiency figures (closer to 100 W/km) and regen levels tuned better for the highway.

Insurance

I read at places at team-bhp.com, that the vehicle insurance is too high. The quote I got form TML was Rs 58,449 (for 1 year zero-dep and 3 years TP till oct 2023). The key learning here is, you can choose not to buy insurance from the dealership, and do your own shopping! So I held back payment of that part to do some research.

A user at team-bhp.com informed that universal sompo insured his NEV at 42k. (bottom of this page) I tried reaching out to universal sompo, but all the numbers listed on their website were not working. I didn’t feel especially inspired to go with them, never mind the 16k savings.

Tried all standard portals – policybazaar, insurancedekho, coverfox. They don’t have NEV listed. policybazaar ppl also tried to get it listed but couldn’t do it on time, I was too eager to wait for them. But maybe someone else will be benefitted with this effort!

Then, someone at team-bhp mentioned that digit gave them the cover @59k when the dealer was trying to fleece him of Rs. 70k. Post in here. Mine is somewhat lower so no sweat.

All said and done, I just went with the TML insurance offer (Future Generali). I know I could have saved 5-6k here in exchange of two to three days and better research. Anyway the dealership guys did everything to delight me. (me being magnanimous AFTER scrounging the market like a marwari ;p ).

Other things were rather smooth. ICICI financed this car at 7.95% ROI.

The hidden set of cards

The info in this section was shared by Dharmendra only after I made the actual purchase. I didn’t come across this info as-it-is on any forums etc. So this might be interesting to prospective owners:

  1. Here is a list of dos and donts: Driving tips + Dos and Donts shared by the Dealership
    TLDR: Drive your car like grandpa.
  2. I was told that if you start your car while it is plugged in, it will go to limp mode, and will take a service engineer’s visit to bring it back.
  3. The sequence of plugging the charger as I was explained, is quite contrived. Something like:
    1. plug in wall socket
    2. plug it in the ev
    3. when unplugging, first remove from the wall socket
    4. then remove from the car

Or some such.

Also, there are ample instructions such as “don’t start the car for at least 90 seconds after unplugging the charger”, and “wait for 10 seconds between removal and reinserting the charger plug in the car” etc. Basically the feeling I have is, I will have to memorize and constantly follow contrived SOPs if I don’t want to blow up my car.

Pre-delivery day experience

Its going great. The delivery workflow seems totally sorted out, because since morning I’m seeing movement and messages about the progress of the vehicle, and I’m not having to follow up on anything.

The insurance was activated, the KYC docs filed (my guy tells me that all Zconnect complaints are bullshit, and you’ll have the best experience ever, and all the bad rep for zconnect is because dealers dont file KYC in time – I don’t know how they are interlinked tho), the RTO registration filed, the message from TATA Power to install my box came, and all such things. Going pretty smooth, and looks like I will be able to actually welcome the Vehicle tomorrow morning to home!

Update: I also got the registration plate number while writing this post! Not very attractive, but anyway I am told that it is a random allocation. I’ll try to block it out of my happiness experience.

Also, I’ve got Amit proactively calling me and helping me with understanding how to maximize the results with the NEV. So I know the sale wasn’t the goal of the talks, and I am quite looking forward to an ownership experience well-supported by the company, through thick and thin!

Until next time ๐Ÿ™‚

aakash@aha3d.in

Dreamer, doer, maker-turned-leader. Former electronics nerd. Passion driven, for good or for bad. A dabbler in spirituality. Moved on from independence to interdependence. Moved on from label-based identification to creating key value, in whatever format possible.