Tata Will Offer World’s Cheapest Hybrid

The world’s cheapest car could become the world’s cheapest hybrid.

Indian carmaker Tata Motors will offer a micro-hybrid version of the Nano—its ultra-affordable small car—according to a leading Indian business television channel. Micro-hybrid technology allows a vehicle to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by about 5 to 10 percent.

The report on CNBC-TV18 said that Bosch, a leading German engineering firm, will supply the micro-hybrid, also known as a stop-start system, which automatically turns off the car’s engine while the vehicle is not moving. Bosch already supplies fuel and braking systems to the Nano.

CNBC-TV18’s Sumantra Barooah said that the micro-hybrid technology would add 4,000 to 6,000 rupees to the Nano’s cost—meaning an additional couple of hundred dollars. Barooah said, “It becomes a challenge to how much the engineers can control the cost of this technology.” With the micro-hybrid Nano, Tata will attempt to use the auto industry’s least expensive hybrid technology in the world’s least expensive car.

Micro-hybrids can be deployed at a much lower cost than full hybrid systems, and are therefore forecast to become widespread as countries adopt tighter standards for fuel economy and fuel emissions.

In his report, Barooah said that a micro-hybrid version would join diesel and all-electric variants of the Nano. The micro-hybrid technology will first be rolled out in the Tata Indica.

The People’s Hybrid

Tata created an international stir in January 2008 when it unveiled the Nano, claiming that it would be the world’s cheapest car. With a starting target price of approximately US $2,500, the Nano could make private car ownership accessible to tens of millions of Indian citizens. Tata nicknamed the Nano as “the people’s car.”

While the four-passenger vehicle would be aimed primarily at the Indian market, the 33-horsepower Nano could have an impact in other global markets—if the car could be proven safe and reliable. To reach major markets throughout the world, the Nano would also need to pass emissions standards—an issue which could be addressed by using the micro-hybrid technology.

Tata aimed to begin an annual production of 250,000 units of the Tata Nano in 2008, but has not announced that production has begun. There’s no indication when the micro-hybrid and electric versions of Nano would be scheduled for production.

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  • Boom Boom

    I’m all for TATAs (wait that didn’t come out right…) but I gotta say that this BS about the “micro-hybrid” label is totally lame. Call it start-stop technology, but we’ve got to stop calling it “hybrid” in any way. Hybrid is a combination of two engine types (Gas/Electric, CNG/Electric, etc.). This car has no hybrid. That isn’t to say that start-stop doesn’t save gas. It does, and that is great. Put it in every car made, tomorrow. But using hybrid in the name confuses it with actual hybrid vehicles (which typically save much more gas). Just because the marketing arm of a company calls it a “micro-hybrid” doesn’t mean that the media needs to repeat it.

    Soap box, out.

  • hybrid-man

    Boom Boom,

    I agree multiple definitions, or micro-definitions for a product/technology cause confusion in the marketplace. Hence, parallel hybrid; series hybrid; two mode hybrid all define specific drivetrain configurations, where full-hybrid, mild-hybrid, muscle-hybrid or micro-hybrid steam from a PR position.

  • Still Waiting

    “Tata aimed to begin an annual production of 250,000 units of the Tata Nano in 2008, but has not announced that production has begun. There’s no indication when the micro-hybrid and electric versions of Nano would be scheduled for production.”

    Sigh… It’s now 2009, even none hybrid version has not been produced yet. Another company with more hype and no action.

  • jon

    Stillwaiting. . . the company has just made this announcement and you may not have heard but they have had to move their entire operation due to the sticky indian political scene. I think fuel efficiency is very much in their interest not just greenwashing.

  • AP

    If a domestic manufacturer announced they were bringing out start/stop technology, the headline wouldn’t have “hybrid” in it; the manufacturer would be lampooned.

  • Madhu Sudan Vashist

    I have heard so much hype but nothing on the road. Hope Tata will build the roads also because I don’t find any place to drive the car any more in big cities. People with 50K (1K US$) are buying Honda City for 5500K (11000 US$) when they work 2Kms away and don’t drive more than 5K Kms per year. Pity that no one in 1Bn people can talk sense.

  • Madhu Sudan Vashist

    Not sure if you are aware of Indian politics or not, TATAs knew from the start that Bengali Babu discuss too much and produce nothing and that is true in their form of Communism also. Those days are over when they were brains now they are over loaded trains.

  • bharath automobiles

    We are still waiting.So far,people are opting second hand cars.Now used cars are getting at cheaper rates.1 lakh car will challenge the used car market

  • dude

    it is the uglyest thing evr

  • Vinayababu

    It is well known what happened to Nano.By this time Tata would have come out with the promised Nano had not ugly Bengal politics had its way in forcing Tata to shift their massive half completed production setup under construction from Calcutta to Gujarat with all the component manufacturers and thereby almost lost one and half years in their efforts. Let us be patient for some more time. Tata is a reputed company and they will come out with Nano.

  • Santosh Sharma

    Tata Nano is best. Its car for massed and its doing wonders. Give everyone a car at unbeatable and unthinkable price. Once it offers Hybrid cars the brand value is going to increase and it will be good for everyone.


  • Avinash Lewis

    Hi, First of all

    1. Tatas have ruined the car image by fixing 3 NUTs on tyres when usually 4 are required, Now tell me how much more cost would increase by that extra NUT. “not more than 500 Rs.”
    2. The 2 cylinder engine instead of 3,
    3. The Vibration because of that 2 cyclinders, No wonder they have sold 550 nanos last month instead of that 10,000 units to reach that break even.
    4. Availability of parts,
    5. Simple Composite Body would have reduced the weight.
    6. The company has to think fast to win customers.

    Now compare this with Maruti Cervo, Or Maruti Alto K10

    Is Girish Wagh or some one in the company Listening?.

  • janeangel

    That’s great approach by Tata. Actually we need this, Tata Nano is the great creation by Tata makers. It is a World’s cheapest car and can be classified as a smart car due to its compact and clever design. It is a fuel efficient car and because of its size its running off smoothly from traffic. Tata Nano Review

  • janeangel

    Great going!!

  • Teresa Felch

    When and where will this Tata be available? The people need an inexpensive vehicle, now, not later.

  • sukhwinderfoss

    I am agree with you that India will soon be home to the world’s cheapest car. Tata Motors, already entrenched as India’s largest manufacturer of four-wheeled vehicles.It is very great achievement for INDIA.not only this, Pepsi and coke have majority sales in india, boeings largest outstanding order is for india based airlines, All american car manufacturers look at that as a lucrative market…

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