Chetain Maini: The ‘chalta hai’ attitude doesn’t work with me

Something that always motivated me was this vision that I had gone to a traffic light in Bangalore and everything was quiet [because it was powered by electricity]. That was so powerful for me right through; of looking at what this future was and what we could do as part of this. This was my own little internal inspiration in this area. In the late 1990s, electric vehicles were supposed to be 2 percent of the cars in California. There was a huge push by the government, tonnes of startups were launched, and there was a whole environment buzzing on electric mobility. 

At that point, I was working with an American company called Amerigon (where the Maini Group was a small investor). There, I led a team of over 100 people who were working on electric cars. [President Bill] Clinton had announced a full electric facility, we were making kits there. It was buzzing, and then suddenly the regulation said this was going to go away. So everyone shut shop.

There was a possibility Reva would not have happened because the company shut down; there was no funding available (I sought funding from auto companies, but they weren’t convinced) and I was not an entrepreneur. I was a technologist. I had never got into the financing, marketing or any other aspect of business.

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