Tata Indica EV - click for a high res gallery
Although the all-electric Tata Indica on display at the SAE World Congress in Detroit this week is not the soon-to-be-released model, there's a lot we can learn from the vehicle - and from TM4's Eriz Azeroual - about how the technology will be implemented when the new model goes on sale in Norway either later this year or in early 2010 (yes, this is later than previously expected). Tata Motors showed off the Indica EV at the Bologna Motor Show in December, but the hatchback is making an appearance in Detroit because of the work that TM4, a subsidiary of Hydro Québec, did providing the permanent magnet motor and the inverter. TM4's Azeroual (he's business development manager there) told us that a limited number of the Indica's are already testing in Norway and that Tata Motors is "a cool company. Very aggressive." Even though they're most famous for the Nano and apparently wanting to dominate the low-end automobile market, in Europe market they want to be known for electric vehicles.
Norway is a perfect entry point to bring an EV to Europe because there is a high tax on gasoline-powered vehicles. The high cost of electric vehilces isn't totally equalized by the taxes, but EVs and gas-powered vehicle prices end up being "comparable" in Norway and this presents customers with an "interesting choice," Azeroual said. Following the Norwegian introduction, Tata plans to expand the Indica EV to other European markets and then possibly the U.S.