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Tata plans E-Nano, electric version of Rs1-lakh car news
20 August 2008

India's largest automobile company, Tata Motors plans to produce an electric-drive version of the Nano called The E-Nano, barely seven months after it unveiled the world's cheapest car, the Nano,  Rs1 lakh.

The E-Nano would be built in cooperation with the Norwegian electric car specialist firm Miljoebil Grenland, the Hamburg-based Auto Bild newspaper said.

The Nano, is slated to be released in September this year. The Nano is a no-frills basic car with a 33 hp 623 cc engine. It has no air-conditioning, electric windows or power steering that are standard in modern new cars.

With prices of basic raw material prices having risen, industry analysts have expressed doubts over whether Tata Motors will be able to sell the vehicle at the promised price of Rs1 lakh.

The detail specs of the electric-drive version of the Nano have yet to be disclosed.

Tata Motors has also signed an agreement with Moteur Development International (MDI) of France to develop a car that runs on compressed air, thus making travel very economical and totally pollution free (See: And now, a car that runs on air from the Tata stable and Tata Motors, MDI of France sign technology pact)

Incessantly rising fuel prices have pushed global auto makers to speed up their plans for electric vehicles. General Motors is redesigning its Chevrolet Volt electric car under the Opel badge, which is expected to get into commercial production in 2010. (See: GM declares Volt ready for testing; additional electric cars in development

The Opel will have a new lithium-ion battery with a range of at least 40 miles and a minimum life of 10 years. GM too is yet to disclose the retail price of the Volt.

The car will be recharged either by plugging it into a normal power socket or, when it is in motion, by a four-cylinder internal combustion engine.

Toyota also plans to come out with a plug-in car in 2010. In contrast to the Volt, it will be an petrol-electric hybrid. Toyota has said its design will cost far less while delivering almost the same performance.

Toyota has been selling the Prius, the world's first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid car, in Japan since late 1997 and in other markets since 2000, and its cumulative sales have topped 1 million units worldwide.

In July it announced plans to install a solar power generation system on its Prius hybrid car, when the vehicle goes through a complete makeover, making Toyota the first major automaker to install a popular model with solar panels. (See: Toyota plans to make the Prius greener with solar panels in 2009)

Nissan unveiled its prototype electriv vehicle with advanced lithium-ion batteries, jointly developed with electronics giant NEC Corporation, to power an 80-kilowatt motor. (See: Nissan unveils new prototype electric car as part of its its CEO Carlos Ghosn strategic plans for global leadership in electric vehicles through mass-produce zero-emission electric vehicles by the end of this decade.

Another Japanese automaker, Honda introduced the first hybrid car in the Indian market, the petrol-electric sedan Civic Hybrid through its Indian subsidiary Honda Siel Cars India. (See: Honda launches its first hybrid in India, Civic Hybrid

It also announced in June having begun production of the new FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle. The vehicle runs on a combination of hydrogen and electricity, and emits only water vapour. (See: Honda produces FCX Clarity that emits only water vapour)

Electric vehicles are expected to have limited mass-market appeal in their early years. Robert Bosch, the world's biggest automotive parts supplier estimates three million petrol-electric hybrids and between 300,000 and 500,000 electric vehicles will be in operation worldwide by 2015.

Car manufacturers have thus started working on plug-in hybrid cars that combine the gasoline energy and the electric energy to run or to propel the car. Plug-in hybrid cars enable the car to go up to a hundred miles per gallon depending on the engine and the battery installed.

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Tata plans E-Nano, electric version of Rs1-lakh car