In the summer of 2010, in anticipation of launching the Vehicle Programs and Development group, Tata Technologies decided to create a complete vehicle as an internal engineering study. As a company with a history of dedicating its resources to specific customer needs, this was a shift in gears.
The group considered numerous concepts. The objective was to highlight the company’s focus on sustainability, as well as its global experience, knowledge-based modeling, capacity and innovation across its portfolio of services, which covered the entire product and process developing cycle, including product and market definition, concept and styling, vehicle architecture, engineering and design and digital validation among others.
The team started reviewing relevant media on electronic Vehicles. “We found very mixed results, ranging from huge optimism to abject pessimism and everything in between,” says Kelvin Fisher president of Vehicle Programs and Development group. He further added that there was much to study, including a plethora of concepts and reams of data, as well as local and governmental incentives and infrastructure.
“We studied and considered what type of electric vehicle is required for different uses, each having a specific purpose and goal,” says Fisher. “We discussed demographics, identifying who would be interested in each segment, determining and what innovation and technologies we could bring to this market, with an overall concept of that be an affordable electric vehicle.”
This analysis led to a combined product and process design to find the right balance in areas such as vehicle cost ownership and usage, innovation and technology and consumer features and usable interior space.The research also led to a focus on a city or “New Urban” electric vehicle with an emphasis on the design following the functionality and use of the vehicle. Keeping a low cost of ownership was a priority. The target was to create an electric vehicle that could be purchased for an estimated MSRP at $ 20,000/- (US), without any government or state incentives.
“We believe that most vehicles on the market are actually oversized and over – specified for the majority consumers daily use, “says Fisher. “Our objective was to fund the right size for this type of electric vehicle and the appropriate range and speed, without reducing safety and daily usability.
The team’s vehicle architecture group worked at minimizing the exterior footprint of the vehicle, but maximizing the interior space, including seating for four full-size adults. The team then added flexibility with the rear seating area doing double duty, offering great cargo space. Finally, to make sure everybody can use this vehicle comfortably, the team designed the vehicle with four doors positioned to make entry and egress incredibly easy for the vehicle of this size, with easy access to the cargo area.
Simultaneously, the development team integrated this over all architectural package with additional unique product design features that are inherent with electric mobility, like shorter over hands, which led to a flush profile cowl, giving a more uninterrupted aero dynamic profile. Combined with large windows this creates a dramatic sense of spaciousness and all around visibility for all occupants of this vehicle. To increase the space for occupants, the team focused on minimizing the disruption of interior features with thoughtful integration of driver controls and displace into the structure.
Another important aspect of the study was to ensure a low carbon footprint and employ a strategy for reuse.“We wanted to reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing, assembling and all associated process, so a Small Assembly Footprint methodology drove our manufacturing solution. This eliminates the traditional body shop and paint process and uses as many ‘green’ product materials and processes as possible. The eMo’s overall structure incorporates a steel safety cage at the front and rare,fascia and exterior doors are recycled panels with mold- in colors. The glazing is a mix of required safety glass and low-mass polycarbonates. This eMO study also used our extensive CAE global knowledge and CAE stimulations were performed to make the current safety standards and regulations in all major markets.”said Fisher.
The power train- a unique liquid – cooled , duel – motor, front – wheel – drive system coupled with an air – cooled, 18.4 – kilowatt, high – energy/density battery – provides the pulse of the vehicle, enabling a vehicle range of 100 miles a top speed of 65 miles per hour. The suspension incorporates an independent front lower A arm and MacPherson struts. The rear suspension has a semi- trailing link with separate mounting shock absorbers and springs. Front disc and rear drum brakes are antilock with electronic stability control. Steering is provided by an electric power – assisted rack – and – pinion system.
To sum it up, Fisher said the eMo reflects Tata Technologies’ unique multi-dimensional approach, its DNA of innovation, as well as its intimate understanding of the demands of both developed and developing markets. The vehicle also benefits from the company’s global delivery model and its proprietary Knowledge – Based Engineering platforms to develop products faster and more cost-effectively.
“We believe this engineering study shows a very pragmatic, innovative and cost – feasible solution for daily- use electric vehicles in a new urban environment,” says Fisher. “And we believe the markets exist for a vehicle demonstrating this intelligent combination of performance, safety, function, price and environmental responsibility.”
And there is more to come. “This study is the first in a series of thought – provoking concepts to showcase out capabilities across the current and future automotive landscape,” he added.
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