Start the conversation
By Jason Simpkins
Tata Motors Ltd. (TTM) has an eye on the future – and soaring oil prices in the present – as it prepares a fleet of econ-friendly automobiles that should be ready for action in the decade to come. The new vehicle line would showcase cars capable of running on electric, hydrogen and other alternative and organic fuels.
Most of Tata's efforts have been focused around the company's Indica, a compact hatchback, popular in India and Europe. According to the Times of India, the company wants to produce five electric variants of the Indica using lithium ion batteries that will run up to 200 km on a single charge. It is also interested in building an Indica hybrid, which would combine electricity and petroleum-based fuel to average 20 km per liter.
Like many of its rivals, Tata is also very interested in the fuel cell. The fuel cell, an electrochemical device capable of generating power from hydrogen, is currently one of the world's hottest technologies. Almost every major automaker is researching or building their own version of a hydrogen-powered car. Most recently, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC) – an automaker generally regarded as having the best all-around engine technologies on the planet – revealed its FCX Clarity model, which was designed around a fuel-cell technology.
Now, Tata is gearing up to roll out India's first hydrogen-fueled vehicle in a partnership with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). According to a recent report from DNA Money, the vehicle in question will be a mini- or microbus scheduled to debut in 2009. ISRO will provide its recently tested cryogenic engine technology.
"We have been successful in adapting the system for a bus or car engine and are fine-tuning it. The vehicle will be ready in two years. It will emit only water vapor and will not pollute the environment," ISRO chairman G Maharani Nair told DNA. A car is rumored to be next in line.
Unfortunately, the cutting-edge technology is very costly. Honda plans to lease about 100 of its FXC Clarity models for three years at $600 a month next year, losing a relative fortune on each one. Honda won't say, but it's estimated each car costs at least $300,000 to build. Also, cars powered by hydrogen require hydrogen-fueling stations, which are few and far between.
Still, Tata's foresight and determination to keep up in the fast-moving and highly competitive automotive industry is evidence of just how serious the company is about making a name for itself as a market leader.
News and Related Story Links:
- Money Morning:
Pimp My Ride: Tata Motors Looks to Burnish its Brand
- Indian Space Research Organization:
- DNA Money:
Tata hydrogen vehicle to roll out in 2 years
- USA Today:
FCX Clarity: Bring on the hydrogen stations