Ask someone in the street to name an electric vehicle right now and top-of-mind brands would probably include Tesla, Chevrolet Volt and Mitsubishi’s iMiev.
Twelve months from now, there may be another name amongst that list you’ve not yet heard. Tata is best known for its US$2500 Tata Nano and recent acquisition of Jaguar and Range Rover but another of its wares appears set to make a huge impact in the EV field.
The Tata Indica Vista EV hits the market early in 2011, carries four people, has excellent performance and can run 150 miles on a charge. Most importantly, the EV is based on a best-selling, mass-market car from the Indian market where it sells for less than US$9000 and its performance in the recent Future Car Challenge verifies its extreme energy efficiency.
Tata is India’s largest automotive company with revenues of US$20 billion in 2009-10. Apart from its recent acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata is also the world’s fourth largest truck manufacturer and the world’s second largest bus manufacturer. Like SAIC, China’s most-likely-to-succeed automotive manufacturer, Tata is the market leader in a country with a billion people and automotive ownership levels equivalent to those of America one hundred years ago. Though success cannot be assured in any competitive marketplace, Tata’s expertise in low-cost manufacturing positions it well to leverage its Indian-market sales into a prominent position on the global stage.
In 2005, the company established Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) at the University of Warwick in Coventry in the UK, tapping into a vast knowledge base which has been consulting and working with Tier 1 Auto suppliers for many years.
In 2008, TMETC purchased a controlling interest in Miljo Grenland Innovation of Norway, a company which specializes in the development of innovative solutions for electric vehicles. Miljo sourced many of the major drive train components fromCanadian company TM4 and though it produces its own batteries in Norway, the battery technology also comes from another Canadian company in the form ofElectrovaya.