Will Tata's eMO Electric Car Ever See Production?
Once again, you're probably going to get swept up with the news that Tata (the Indian conglomerate that also owns Land Rover and Jaguar) is going to revolutionise the automotive world. This time, the hoopla will be about the new eMO electric car, a concept that the Indian industrial giant revealed to great effect. The details of the eMO's exact performance potential are unimportant. What will be shouted from the rooftops is that - and haven't we heard this before from Tata - that it could have an amazingly low (for an EV) estimated price tag of US$20,000 (Dh73,500). "See, it can be done" will be the crux of the headlines as the true believers proclaim that sceptics' worry that all EVs are expensive is completely wrong. Or is it?
You might remember a similar hullabaloo in late 2009 when Tata revealed the original Nano. A paradigm shift for the automobile industry was the refrain then as the media hyped its sub-US$2,000 price tag. The question of the day was how traditional car makers could possibly survive when some little upstart of a company could sell people a car so cheaply. Surely, we - save perhaps the truly monied - would also soon be running around in little Indian runabouts. After all, who could resist the lure of a car that barely costs as much as a pair of bespoke shoes?
Well, the Indians for starters. The Nano is considered a failure in its own country, with current sales running at about one third of the projected 250,000 annual production (last September Tata sold only 1,200 Nanos, hardly what one expects from an econocar in a country of more than one billion). Why? The kinder of critics point to the lack of a diesel powertrain, others report spontaneous fires. But what's killing the Nano is that it's too cheap. Visiting motoring journalists may have been amazed. Unfortunately for Tata, its intended audience is seeing it as simply cheap rather than value-packed. I suspect the company's concept EV will be more of the same; much ado about the possibilities but precious little focus spent on the realities.
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