Automotive

Tata Megapixel Global City Car full of surprizes

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The Tata Megapixel has acutely turning wheels which give it a turning radius of just 2.8 meters, an inductive home charging system and some very useful automatic sliding double doors.
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The Tata Megapixel has acutely turning wheels which give it a turning radius of just 2.8 meters, an inductive home charging system and some very useful automatic sliding double doors.
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The Tata Pixel Concept car from Geneva 2011.
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The Tata Pixel Concept car from Geneva 2011.
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Tata Motors continued to upstage its far-longer established automaking peers at the 82nd Geneva Motor Show overnight with the Tata Megapixel concept, a new four-seater range extended electric vehicle (REEV).

The Megapixel is the evolution of last year's Pixel concept and uses four in-wheel 10 kW motors and a 325 cc single cylinder petrol range-extending engine that generates 22 kW while charging the lithium ion phosphate battery. The result is a range of 900 km (559 miles) and an electric-only range of 87 km (54 miles).

The Megapixel has several other killer party tricks, including acutely turning wheels which give it a turning radius of just 2.8 meters (9.2 ft) and an inductive home charging system - park over the induction pad and it charges itself without needing to be plugged in. There's also those very useful automatic double doors.

The Tata Megapixel
The Tata Megapixel

The Megapixel is a good looking little beastie, and was developed by Tata's design centres in India, the UK and Italy. As a global car concept, this is both the company's evolving idea of the ideal city car for global urban environments, and the one you're most likely to see first if you don't live in India.

Tata Motors is India's largest automobile company, with enormous prospects. A few decades from now, India will be a superpower, with the world's largest population having transitioned from bicycles to scooter and now aspiring to drive a car. India's vehicle ownership ratios are currently the same as America's were in 1912 - when the Model T Ford was top seller.

The Tata Megapixel
The Tata Megapixel

Tata is already huge with consolidated revenues of US$27 billion in 2010-11 and operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and South Africa. Among them is Jaguar Land Rover, the distribution of Fiat cars in India, and the market leader in commercial vehicle sales in India. Indeed, it is already the world's fourth largest truck manufacturer and third largest bus manufacturer. Tata is unquestionably coming to a market near you, so if you think the Megapixel is worthy of consideration, it might yet become available locally.

The Tata Pixel which was shown at Geneva in 2011 had a "Zero Turn" drive system which has been evolved further in the Megapixel. When parking, the four independent electric hub motors drive the wheels in opposite directions, while the front wheels are turned at an acute angle. The unfeasibly small turning circle will enable parking in spaces you wouldn't even consider in a small car - very impressive and very useful!

The Tata Megapixel
The Tata Megapixel

The at-home induction charging system is another no-brainer. Time-saving and very convenient benefits are heavy motivators. It only takes a minute or so to plug and unplug a plug-in hybrid, but the two minutes a day you save adds up and it's one less of life's chores to tick off the list.

Getting into and out of a small car is also no easy task, and doubly difficult for the taller among us. More accessibility means much easier loading and securing of goods and children and the Megapixel's double-sliding door system and B-pillar-less design is very clever and genuinely useful.

Inside, it's bigger than you'd expect because the battery layout and hub motors maximize interior space.

The Tata Pixel Concept car from Geneva 2011.
The Tata Pixel Concept car from Geneva 2011.

Accordingly, the Megapixel accommodates four adults with luggage.

The front seats are cleverly cantilevered on the central tunnel, releasing floor space underneath the seats for additional storage.

Like every other automotive design house on the planet, Tat's has focused heavily on the human machine interface (HMI). There's a docking point on the console for a smart phone and the interface is based around a large touchscreen in the center of the instrument panel. The touch screen controls all the functions of the car, from climate to driving modes.

36 comments
robinyatesuk2003
very impressive if you are in the city less so if you want the Nuremburg Ring
jeremy.davies
Looks great but why the piddly gas mileage? My 1998 Peugeot 106 1500cc diesel does 70 miles per gallon (uk gallons) . This car is listed as doing 100 km/l - which is less??? I think car manufacturers need to focus on cost of distance travelled vehcile design and marketing rather than Co2 emissions. As a UK consumer where it costs £1.40 per litre of diesel this is really important! Also I think that small engines (whether in hybrid config or not) dont always deliver best economy. As an example, my father had a motorhome based on a 2000cc ford transit, it woudlnt do more than 60 mph and gave him an appalling 12mpg at that speed. I bought a 1972 ford econoline motorhome which had a 5000cc motor, this could cruise at 70mph and do 85 mph if I wanted it to, it also delivered 17-20 mpg. It wasnt struggling. I have a fear that this little car, llike the Smart 4-2 will be absolutely thrashed by its UK owners who all drive it on the motorways at some point and will want to travel at 80mph. This little 1 cylinder will be screaming its tits off to acheive less than this speed and will no doubt have poor economy as a result. my two uneducated - but experienced cents... :)
Ben Grillet
I make 100km/l as about 280mpg, not bad, though you must add on the cost of the electricity if you re-charge from the grid. I'm guessing that's the fuel consumption when backing up a fully charged battery. Once the battery is run down and the little engine is trying to recharge it and power the car, I imagine it would struggle to compete with a fully-laden tuk-tuk.
RCbaby
70 mpg vs 100 km/l? It's a fairly easy comparison (heck, type it into Google to get it done for you!) 100 km/l is roughly 235mpg... considerably more than the 1500cc diesel's 70mpg. But, hey what's the point in researching the basic fundamental of your argument? Also while we're at it, why not compare like for like? a Ford Econoline is a completely different kettle-of-fish to a Transit. the gearing and engine characteristics of a transit are intended to pull the vehicle efficiently when fully loaded (upto over 7.5tonnes), whereas an econoline is really a recreational vehicle, where it's PRIMARY use isn't to pull heavy loads. Also aerodynamics have a huge affect on engine load (and hence, economy) and there could be serious differences between the two vehicles. As for attacking car companies over their obsession with co2? Well that's hardly fair, the obsession with co2 come from the government's own taxation and penalty systems which hugely affect new cars buyers (especial fleet and company car purchases), and believe it or not, car companies have to make car's that can be sold, so they can keep hundreds of thousands of people employed. Like me.
Marco Gonzalez
Jeremy a 100Km/l is a lot of range for pretty much little fuel. Lets do the conversion: 70 miles equals 112,65 km. A UK Gallon is 4,55 liters. Those 70 miles per gallon roughly translates into 25Km/l. So the first idea of of your post give the advantage to the "little car" because indeed have fuel economy. If you check the specification sheet (last image in the article) it says the maximum speed is 110 Km/h or 68 Mph. The car is designed as a city dweller not a road runner. you can use it to travel but don't do it fast. Opposite to tradition that little engine is not there to give power directly to the wheels but to the battery. That's why is called a range extender and it won't be screaming to achieve any speed. It will keep and optimum regime of work to charge the battery. The economy won' be reduced. Now if you want to go fast then the distance will be very short.
LSD
@Jeremy Davies : i don't know how you calculate your consumption or i must have mis understood it. A consumption of 1 L/100km is like 1/4 of your 70 mpg!! So it seems to be a very nice car...
Eric Drakar
@Jeremy.davies : Do you know that everybody doesn't live in UK..... ? Do you know that everybody doesn't "overall" need to cruise at 80 mph.... ? Do you know that the average "milage" of a city car in Europe is less than 50 Km / day ? Regards.
DemonDuck
Brilliant! Why can't Ford and GM make cars like this?
Todd Edelman
As with any innovative and efficient small automobile, this is best as a shared vehicle (in a carshare, carclub, peer-to-peer system...). We better hope that the population of India doesn't fully "transition" from bicycles to automobiles, as the world cannot handle all this would require -- and Indian roads would fill up. China is realizing now that it has made some mistakes in this area and at least some brave mayors there are guaranteeing a future for cycling (and use of public transport).
Dawar Saify
Jeremy Davies, funny you should attack a company for making a car, why not attack other car companies or their design concepts. And you're comparing different types of vehicles shows you have no concept of mileage and vehicle types. This car has very respectable mileage for its size and category. The only problem is that it quickly moves off the concept stage and be in production.