December 03, 2010

Tata reveals Indica Vista electric car with 150 mile range on one charge with a price around $10,000 and an electric truck

Tata Motors used the Thailand International Motor Expo 2010 as the venue to introduce an electric car based on its Indica Vista and a variant based on the Ace pickup.

The Indica Vista EV is powered by a super-polymer lithium-ion battery that promises 200 km on a single charge and an acceleration of 0 to 100 kph in 10 seconds. The EV is the first product from the Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) and Mijo Grenland/Innovation of Norway — TMETC has a 70 per cent stake in the Norwegian company. This is the first time the EV has been seen in the Southeast Asian market.

Gizmag - The Tata Indica Vista EV hits the market early in 2011, carries four people, has excellent performance and can run 150 miles on a charge. Most importantly, the EV is based on a best-selling, mass-market car from the Indian market where it sells for less than US$9000 and its performance in the recent Future Car Challenge verifies its extreme energy efficiency.

This kind of car has the range and cost and carrying capacity to make proposed plans for India and China to go all electric vehicles by 2020 feasible. The remaining hurdles are to be able to make enough batteries or capacitors with comparable cost for about 500 million cars and trucks and to build out the charging system.



Tata is India’s largest automotive company with revenues of US$20 billion in 2009-10.

In a recent test on a 58 mile route, the Indica EV completed it with only a 36% depletion of the lithium ion phosphate batteries. This would give a vehicle range, in typical real-world driving conditions, of approximately 160 miles, producing an efficiency equivalent mileage of 176 mpg plug to wheel. That’s not quite in the same league as Tesla’s 240 mile range, but its price is expected to be a fraction of that of the Tesla and considerably lower than Mitsubishi’s iMIEV and Chevrolet’s Volt.


Making the batteries or capacitors at high volume and keeping costs low is an issue

Ergosphere (Engineering poet) discusses the benefits of new capacitors with near battery level energy storage

Nanotek Instruments and Angstron Materials have a supercapacitor which has energy storage over 80 Wh/kg. This is in the performance region of nickel metal hydride materials and getting close to lithium-ion, in a material which can handle 1000 A/kg. The claimed energy capacity of 85.6 Wh/kg, assuming a working voltage range of 0 to 4 volts, gives a capacitance of about 38 farads per gram; charging and discharging at 1 A/g, this could go from empty (45% voltage) to full in 80 seconds... or the reverse.

Charging or discharging, this is pretty impressive. 1 A/g @ 2 V is 2 kW/kg, or 200 kW from a 100 kg capacitor. That's 268 horsepower at the low end of the discharge curve (half voltage to full).

The energy stored can be increased by cooling it, releasing both electrical and heat energy at the same time.

The specific heat of the material is not given, and I won't estimate it. But if the capacitor is cooled from 80°C to "room temperature" while holding the voltage constant at maximum followed by a normal discharge, the energy available on a cycle rises from 136 Wh/kg to a whopping 186 Wh/kg. This is in addition to the heat released, which is (at least initially) hot enough to provide fast windshield defrosting and a nice, warm cabin within seconds of activation. Instead of being disadvantaged in the cold, the batacitor-electric car could wind up having better creature comforts than anything currently on the market.

If 1/4 to 1/2 of the storage system is active material, such a temperature-managed capacitor would eke out 45-90 Wh/kg. A Chevy Volt-sized pack storing 10 kWh would be about 111-222 kg (245-490 lb). This brackets the weight of the actual Volt battery (375 lb). It would also be able to take a recharge in less than 2 minutes.

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