Who started the Tata car

India urges automakers to improve air quality

India has set itself an ambitious goal: by 2030, every newly registered vehicle is to be powered exclusively by electricity. In view of the extreme air pollution in metropolises like Delhi or Mumbai, ambition is not out of place. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari recently underpinned the plan with a warning to the auto industry to rapidly develop electric vehicles for the Indian market.

Tata Motors, subsidiary of the traditional Indian conglomerate Tata Group, has just presented the prototype of an electric version of the small car Tiago at an event in Millbrook, UK. According to the company, the maximum speed of the Tiago EV is 135 kilometers per hour and the range with one battery charge is at least 100 kilometers. With these key data, the newcomer, which is about to be ready for production and should conquer the Indian market from 2018, would be the fastest electric car there - and possibly also the most lucrative. The selling price, it is said, will be in the basic version at 328,000 rupees (around 4700 euros). The e20 Plus from market leader Mahindra costs almost twice as much.

There is still a lot to do in order to implement the vision of dare to phase out the combustion engine and thus automobile air pollution from 2030 onwards. Electric cars are still a pure niche product in India as well. Only 5000 of the three million new vehicles sold in the previous year were in this segment. In addition to Mahindra as the only domestic manufacturer to date, BMW, Toyota and Volvo also have e-cars or hybrids in their range. But the latest news from Tata shows the direction in which we are heading. In addition, it was not by chance that the company opted for the Tiago when it came to choosing an electric car. This has been sold in India with great success since 2016. Experts believe that the same drive technology could soon also be used in the Tata Nano. It was once started as the cheapest car in the world, but the latest sales figures were no longer as great - the electric version could give the Nano a boost again.

A lot is happening in other companies too. The business paper “Mint” reported that the Indian conglomerate JSW is forming a joint venture with the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding, parent company of Volvo, to produce electric cars and related components such as batteries domestically. The JSW Group, which belongs to billionaire Sajjan Jindal, announced a month ago that it would invest almost 600 million euros in the development of vehicles with electric drive. The cooperation with the Chinese partner would give the Indians access to its know-how in batteries and charging systems. Both on a global scale and in the ambitious future plans on the subcontinent are still the greatest weaknesses.

According to Ashok Jhunjhunwala, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai and chief advisor to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energies, it is high time the country started producing its own components such as batteries. Otherwise you risk being left behind and in a few years' time you will have to import almost all of the components from abroad, like oil now. Reference is also made to the fact that battery prices have fallen from 600 to 250 US dollars in the last five years - and are forecast to be only 100 dollars in 2024. This is what makes low-priced models such as the Tiago EV for the Indian market possible in the first place. In any case, the range of charging stations must also be greatly expanded.

The Korean manufacturer Hyundai was previously oriented towards hybrid development for India. In view of the pressure from politics, he now wants to adapt his electric models to the Indian market and has started talks with suppliers. Meanwhile, the local commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland, which launched an electric bus last year, is working on ways of installing the same drive system in cars and trucks with only minimal changes. To this end, they have teamed up with the start-up SUN Mobility.

The "Economic Times" also reported that the state-owned company Energy Efficiency Services wanted to launch a tender for 25,000 electric rickshaws, three-wheeled small taxis, in December. Several companies such as Lohia Auto, Electrotherm, Kinetic Green and, above all, market leader Mahindra, who is also a pioneer in the development of such rickshaw models, have already announced that they want to get into the ring.

With mopeds and motorcycles, as can be read on the website pluginindia.com, progress is progressing even faster than with cars. A number of manufacturers already have 100 percent electric two-wheeled vehicles on offer or are about to launch them on the market.

In any case, it is important to massively expand production capacities by 2030. Until then, the annual new registrations in India will be ten million vehicles, all of which should then run on electric basis according to the policy, writes the business service Bloomberg, referring to figures from the International Energy Agency, which classifies India's plans as "ambitious": Finally that would be around eight times the 1.3 million electric vehicles that are on the world's roads today.

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