The government’s role in emission should be confined to drawing up a road map; it must not be dictated by the choice of technology, leaving it instead to the manufacturers, said Guenter Butschek, chief executive officer and managing director, Tata Motors, on Thursday as the company unveiled a new technology platform called Ziptron.
The modular technology will power all electric cars (e-cars) Tata Motors launches in the future. The first high-speed, fast-charging e-car with this indigenously developed technology will go on sale in the last quarter of the current financial year.
“Let the government determine the emission standards. Let’s make sure the government is technology agnostic, except when it is about e-mobility. But even there it’s not for meeting emissions, but for building an ecosystem that allows a faster adoption of electrification. It’s for a different reason,” said Butschek, adding that when it comes to meeting emission standards, the choice of technology —gasoline direct injection, a plug-in hybrid or something else — should be a manufacturer’s call. “Technology is a competitive factor; let the government not interfere in it,” he added.
Emphasising the co-existence of internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric vehicles (EVs) in the future, he said Tata Motors has developed Ziptron in-house by tapping into its global engineering network. Under development for four years, the technology has been tested across 1 million kilometres (km), he said.
Shailesh Chandra, president, EV business and corporate strategy, at Tata Motors, said all Ziptron-powered EVs will have a range of 250 km and will come with an eight-year warranty on the electric motor and the battery system, thereby addressing key concerns plaguing the current fleet of e-cars on Indian roads.
India sold a total of 3.3 million units of passenger vehicles. The share of e-cars however, was less than 3,000 units. Presently Tata Motors — that sells the electrified version of the Tigor and Tiago models — and Mahindra & Mahindra’s e-Verito are the only two players in the mass e-car segment. A lack of charging infrastructure, range anxiety, and a premium one has to pay over the traditional ICE-powered models have made EVs unattractive to buyers in the personal segment.
“The idea is to overcome all barriers that make e-cars aspirational,” said Chandra. In order to get economies of scale which, in turn, would help push down costs through the new technology, Tata Motors will strive for commonality across segments in which it introduces the models. While Chandra refused to divulge details, he said the company will steer clear of hatchbacks, as it will be tough to launch a model in that segment at a cost-competitive price.
In his address to shareholders at Tata Motors’ annual general meeting last month, Chairman N Chandrasekaran had said the company had ‘recalibrated its ambitions higher’ in the EV space after the recent announcements by the government to boost demand. As part of the plan, it was looking to launch multiple EV models.
Tata Motors has been working with group companies, Tata Power and Tata Chemicals, to create an ecosystem for EVs. It recently announced a partnership with Tata Power to install 300 fast-charging stations by the end of this financial year in five cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.