Maruti Gypsy Electric review: Future-proofing an icon

    Don’t dispose of your old Maruti Gypsy just yet. There’s an electric conversion kit that could make it future-proof.

    Published On Dec 02, 2023 08:00:00 AM

    16,363 Views

    Ignore the lifted suspension and meaty off-road tyres because the highlight of the Maruti Gypsy you see here is what lies under its clamshell bonnet. Out goes the original’s 1.3-litre petrol engine and in comes an electric motor. It gets even more fascinating. The motor bolts on to the existing drivetrain, so here’s an electric Gypsy with a 5-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive!

    Headline numbers? Well, there aren’t any if something like a Nexon EV is your point of reference. This one’s 72V electric motor makes a meek 55hp and 120Nm of continuous power. “Simplicity” was the name of the game, as Rajeev Ranadive of Pune-based Pixy Electric Cars, that developed the motor, clarifies. Air-cooling, for instance, was decided as the approach of choice owing to its lower cost and smaller packaging requirements, enabling a one-size-fits-all-type modularity. Gypsy aside, the motor can currently serve an Eeco and a Swift, and the catalogue of compatible cars will increase moving forward. The electric motor draws power from an 18kWh lithium-ion battery pack positioned under the rear seat, and there’s support for 7.2kW AC charging. 

     

    The starting process is unique. You have to twist a key on the centre console, then twist another dial beside and await a click from the motor that indicates you’re good to go, and then there’s a third knob. Flipping it to the right has the motor spin forward, and turning it to the left has the motor spin in reverse. In effect, you have five forwards and five reverse gears!

    Electric motors deliver max torque from the word go and theoretically, I should be able to get moving in fifth. First order of business is to test just that. It works! Progress is actually adequate on the flat off-road track. Working through the ratios via the Gypsy’s crisp shifting gearbox varies the performance and speed, and actually doesn’t feel unnatural or too far removed from a ‘normal’ Gypsy. What does, is the noise. Or the lack of it. It’s not quiet like the latest EVs, but the soundtrack is limited to a whirr from the electric motor... and a whole lot of rattles from the body panels of this 20-year-old donor car.

    It’s just as capable as a standard Gypsy. Max torque from the get-go counts for a lot.

    On jungle safaris – one of the use cases for an electric Gypsy – the quiet will allow you to get up close to wildlife. That said, you’d need to hope said wildlife doesn’t give you a chase because this Gypsy ain’t no Tesla. The build of speed isn’t urgent even at full throttle, in any gear. An 80km range on mild off-road trails is promised and should be sufficient for the typical leisurely jungle jaunt though.

    Appreciably, the electric Gypsy retains the original’s off-road chops. 4WD engaged, it tackled all that we put it through. A long climb up a rutted track, another climb up a rocky path, an axle twister... it did it all. And in reverse too! I did have to be mindful of being in the right gear to get the most out of the powertrain, but no change in driving style was needed. A cool factoid? The electric Gypsy didn’t sound stressed like our lead Jimny’s 1.5-litre petrol engine did over the trickiest sections of the course.

    Electric motor equals quiet progress. You’ll be able to hear the wildlife you’re out to spot.

    Aside from customer and forest use, Pixy Electric Cars also foresees the electric Gypsy fit in frontline areas as a patrol vehicle. The establishment of solar power generation units would cater to charging requirements and would do away with the need to transport risky fuel, as is currently required for the fleet of petrol Gypsys. The electric motor in use also comes shrouded by heat shields to reduce the vehicle’s heat signature. To what extent extreme temperatures would impact performance and range remains a question mark.

    For an average user though, price will be the biggest stumbling block. The electric conversion costs Rs 8 lakh and that’s aside from the cost of the donor vehicle. The conversion takes less than a day, post which the vehicle can be re-registered with a green number plate. Pixy Cars will be appointing distributors across the country for fitment.   

    5-speed gearbox and transfer case retained from original Gypsy.

    While there is promise in the idea, this electric Gypsy is best seen as a special use vehicle only. For all other needs, Maruti will happily sell you a Jimny.

    Also see:

    Maruti Suzuki finally discontinues Gypsy

    Maruti Suzuki Jimny long term review, 5500km report

    Maruti Suzuki eVX EV SUV spied in India for the first time

    Maruti Suzuki Cars

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