Tata Motors goes for hybrid, electric cars

Wednesday, 6 January 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Business Standard: With uncertainty around diesel engines because of rising pollution in the cities, Tata Motors is moving towards hybrids and electric vehicles. The Mumbai-based company, traditionally been dependent on diesel engines, is working on partial hybrids and fully-electric systems for its future range of passenger vehicles. It is also working on a new generation of less-polluting petrol engines.

High cost of batteries has always been a deterrent in the success of electric cars. However, with China investing heavily in electric vehicles, the cost of batteries has begun falling. China is also battling with record-high pollution in its cities, leading to a mass interest in electric cars.

“We have worked across, for our passenger and commercial vehicles, on hybrid technologies and battery electric technologies. The barrier to electric technology is the high cost of batteries. Battery costs have started to come down. The rate of reduction cost is accelerating. We have always seen hybrids as a path towards this type of technology and we will see this getting integrated into our future vehicles,” said Timothy Leverton, president and head, advanced product engineering, Tata Motors.

In September, car market leader Maruti Suzuki launched a mild hybrid version of Ciaz, with a 1.3-litre diesel engine. The combination of electric-diesel power plants helps the sedan deliver a company-claimed 28.09 km/litre.

Though the initial purchase price is higher, mild hybrids are more cost-efficient, delivering superior mileage without compromising on power and performance.

Sports utility vehicle market leader Mahindra & Mahindra has put micro-hybrid technology in its Bolero and Scorpio, resulting in improved fuel efficiency of five-eight per cent.

Tata Motors has been experimenting with electric vehicles for some years. “We actually ran a fleet of Vista electric vehicles in the UK couple of years ago and did a year-long trial on the UK roads,” Leverton added.

“We are commissioning a battery assembly pilot line in Pune, which gives Tata Motors an in-house source for this commodity,” said Nick Fell, director and head of Tata Motors European Technical Centre PLC, in an interview to an in-house magazine.

Tata is also investing in compact petrol engine technology. The company developed 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine for its upcoming hatchback, the Zica.

The new engine will be offered alongside the 1-litre diesel engine, also been developed from scratch.