Tata Nano micro-hybrid planned

Tata is planning to launch a micro-hybrid version of the Nano, according to media reports. However, there is no confirmation from the company.

This news, if true, means that a Nano hybrid is even farther away. And that is not good news. A cheap Nano hybrid could have leapfrogged current car technology in India, but looks that is not going to happen for a while.

Autocar India which reported the news failed to get a confirmation from Tata Motors, however.

A Tata Nano micro-hybrid is not bad news – far from it. Micro hybrid tech can increase the fuel efficiency of the Nano a bit, and nobody is likely to complain about that! We already have a Mahindra Scorpio micro-hybrid in India, but there is no data available on the sales of that variant.

tata nano photo
Photo: Tata Nano

The price of micro-hybrid Nano could be slightly more than the top-end petrol version priced at Rs. 1.92 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

Sources hint that the micro-hybrid technology for the Nano could be supplied by German tier I supplier such as Bosch and Continental, who are supplying crucial parts such as engine components for the current Nano petrol version.

How does a micro hybrid work? When the engine is idle, the micro hybrid system detects it and switches off the engine. The engine can be switched on instantly by depressing the clutch. This is especially handy during frequent stop-go city traffic. Micro hybrid thus helps in avoiding unnecessary petrol consumption during engine idle conditions. When implemented in Nano, the fuel efficiency can further be improved to around 25 km/litre. Currently, as per ARAI, Nano returns a mileage of 23.6 km/litre.

Tata Motors is planning to launch a diesel version of Nano soon. The price of the diesel Nano could be 15-20% (approx Rs. 27,000) more than the petrol version. Nano diesel is expected to be powered by a 2-cylinder, 700 cc diesel engine that would return an incredible 40 km/litre mileage. This mileage could make the Nano diesel’s running cost in par with some of the 180 – 250 cc motorcycles running in the country.

If the micro hybrid technology is cheaper and reliable, it would not be a surprise if Tata Motors uses it in both the petrol and diesel versions of the Nano. Thus with the impressive mileage figures, the Nano’s will be a darling among fuel economy conscious buyers. Further, the recent petrol price hike and expected price hikes for diesel, will make the car buyers focus on fuel efficient models in the market, thus favoring Nano’s micro hybrid version when launched.

Sales of the Tata Nano have been steadily increasing in the recent months. In April 2011, the company sold 10,010 Nano cars, the highest ever monthly sales since its launch in March 2009. The attractive marketing strategies such as selling the car in Big Bazaar, zero down payment, Nano in exchange of two-wheeler, 4-years/40,000 warranty has boosted the sales.

The Nano micro hybrid is an example of greener technological developments of Tata Motors. It has to be noted that Tata Indica Vista Electric has been developed by the Indian auto giant for European markets. The company has showcased Tata Ace electric and Tata city buses with hybrid technologies and they have been used in the 2010 Commonwealth games conducted in New Delhi.