A few months ago, we bought a Tata Tigor. The relatively small price differential between the Nexon and the Tigor has ensured a cannibalisation of sales as most folks think that the extra couple of lakhs invested is worth the status shift from small to big car. With the Tiago, Tata Motors has made decision making easier. At an entry level price of Rs. 8.49 lakh, it gives the economy loving Indian customer a frugal car, whose capex is something that most folks should be ready to spend. The entry level Petrol Tiago is 5.4 lakh ex showroom in Pune. And paying an extra 3 lakh should be a no brainer for a person who is doing 1500 km a month. With a savings of Rs, 10,000 per month, you should be able to recover the extra investment in under 3 years. And if you are really comparing apples to apples, the best comparison is with the Tiago XTA AMT model, which is the entry level automatic - which costs Rs. 7.8 lakh - a premium of just 70 K… and a payback of a few months.
My guess is that sound economics like this will see the Tiago easily achieving between 50 K to 100 K bookings in the first few weeks itself. The only suspense to some extent is the prices offered by Citroen C3 for their new electric offering. The Mahindra XUV 400 is more in Nexon Max territory - and I don’t think the Tiago buyer will have Mahindra in their consideration set.
I have been urging most EV OEMs to offer battery options. And am happy to note that based on the Nexon experience, TML has taken the plunge and are offering 19.2 and 24 kW battery options. When I spoke to Anand Kulkarni, he mentioned that no electric car from the TML stable will have an ARAI range of less than 250 km. What does that translate to in real life terms. I would use a multiplying factor of 0.6, so you can have a peaceful 150 km daily commute and not worry about your driving style.
My take is that people should seriously look at the smaller battery option. From an environmental perspective, small is beautiful. There is a lot of embedded energy in a pack - and it makes sense for you to live with your needs rather than spend on your greeds. Another advantage of a smaller pack is that you should be able to get that teeny weeny increase in efficiency with a 50 kg reduction in weight, thanks to the smaller pack. You could have also found a better power to weight ratio, if the same motor had been used. But TML has decided to tune down the motor to a peak of 45 kW from 55 kW in the larger pack models. So the zippiness of the smaller battery car may not be the same as the bigger battery car.
As a Tigor owner, I do feel cheated. With Tiago’s impressive feature list like cruise control and rain sensing wipers, I can justifiably ask why was I charged 3 lakhs extra? Well - Anand did share with us that an announcement of upgrades on the existing Tigors can be expected in a few weeks’ time. TML will have to look at positioning the Tigor if they want the model to continue. My suggestion would be to have a battery pack option of 30 kWH for the Tigor. Like the Tiago, TML can go ahead and remove the spare wheel in the Tigor Max. With a real life range of 250 km a lot more intercity travel will be possible with the sedan.
So where’s the catch? There are two things that TML will have to look at. One is eco system. Most of small car India uses roadside parking. And how would an electric car fit in this scenario. Frugal charging infrastructure at community level would go a long way. Maybe the electric rickshaw entrepreneurs can teach a thing or two to the TML / Tata Power team about affordable charging.
Would like to conclude with my wish list for the TML team. Please get the wh per km down. The Tiago is not very different in efficiency than its heavier sibling, the Tigor. I get a wh/lm figure of between 85 to 90 when I use the car without AC in city drive. I expected the Tiago to return figures of between 75 to 80 wh per km. This would have meant a real life range of 200 km with a 20 kWh pack. That would be cool. I hope that TML can seriously look at how future EVs can breach the 900 kg mark, yet having decent NCAP ratings. Only a grounds up EV can do that job.