Tata charts green drive despite western scepticism
GENEVA, March 8 — India’s Tata Motors signalled its green drive at the Geneva Motor Show with a new hybrid, described as the firm’s future, even as Western auto giants struggle to get customers to buy such cars.
“The Tata Megapixel, developed by our design centres in India, the UK and Italy, is our idea of a city car for discerning motorists in any megacity of the world,” said Prakash Telang, managing director of Tata’s India operations.
It “also denotes the company’s future design direction,” he added.
The four-seater that the company describes as a “smart global range extended electric vehicle” combines a lithium ion phosphate battery and an on-board petrol engine generator for recharging on the move.
Tata, which reported US$27 billion (RM81 billion) of revenues for 2010-11, said the vehicle runs for 100 kilometres on just one litre of fuel.
The Indian group’s officials did not reveal the target price for the vehicle, but if it is low, it could be a serious competitor in the green car sector which has been dominated by Toyota’s Prius.
Toyota has sold two million Prius vehicles in the 14 years since the hybrid’s launch and dominates the US market, selling nearly half of all new hybrids despite a growing number of offerings from its competitors.
Western car makers admitted the high prices of such cars were turning consumers off.
Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG, said carmakers are now investing large sums in designing cars that produce lower gas emissions, amid a global move to go green.
However, he bemoaned that customers were unwilling to fork out for the innovations.
“Customers are definitely paying more attention to CO2 emissions than they did a few years ago, but they are not necessarily paying for them,” Zetsche lamented.
One case in point is General Motors’ Volt hybrid, which was voted Car of the Year at the Geneva show, but which has had such a lacklustre reception in the United States that assembly lines will be temporarily shut.
Last week, GM said production of its electric Chevy Volt would be suspended for five weeks to reduce capacity in line with demand.
GM sold 8,000 Volts last year, less than the 10,000 units forecast in its first year.
Susan Doherty, president and managing director of Chevrolet Europe, defended the move to halt production, saying GM did not want to operate in old ways that brought it to bankruptcy in 2009.
She said however that “electricity is the way go in the future.”
The Geneva Motor Show opens its doors to the public from today, with 260 exhibitors to showcase 180 novelties.
The show closes on March 18. — AFP-Relaxnews