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S.Muralidhar | Updated on March 16, 2011 Published on March 16, 2011

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Pixel   -  BUSINESS LINE

Ever since the Nano was first unveiled, Tata Motors and its premieres have had a huge following at the Geneva Motor Show. The Tata Nano Europa, the European version of the ultra low-cost car was unveiled at the 2009 edition of the show and this year too Tata designers and engineers had come up with an exciting new concept to keep the interest going for the Nano.

The new Pixel is Tata Motors’ interpretation of the city car of the future. This concept is based on the Nano platform and despite its smooth, almost cartoonish design the Pixel’s genetic background is all too easy to see. From a distance, it looks like a toy you might be tempted to string onto a key chain, a futuristic concept that maybe put to use in a movie directed by John Lasseter.

Tata Motors says that the Pixel is a new city car concept particularly meant for Europe. And though it is based on the Tata Nano, the Pixel is smaller – at just over three metres in length. Yet, it is claimed to be the most package efficient four-seater in the world, and capable of comfortably accommodating four adults, unlike a typical European city car which is either a two-seater or can accommodate two adults and two children only.

The Pixel has been designed and conceptualised by Tata Motors’ European Technical Centre. Though the design is more jelly-bean like and rounded, the Pixel’s overall construction is very similar to the Nano with wheels pushed out to the extreme and the same swooping roofline.

The big difference between the Nano and the Pixel is the elimination of the B-pillar in the latter. The Pixel is still a concept so there is not much information on the possibility of the current construction being viable, but the absence of the B-pillar does seem to open up the possibilities of enhancing space inside the passenger cabin. Most other structural features will also be similar including locating the engine at the rear and just below the rear passenger seat.

Possibilities include a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine, positioned at the rear of the Tata Pixel, though it does seem like it will be a task to package the mill in that small a space. The engine is said to be a low-friction design, featuring variable coolant and oil pump and rapid warm-up technologies. With optimised aerodynamic drag, low rolling-resistance tyres, stop-start technology, and intelligent battery charging, the Tata Pixel returns European combined cycle (NEDC) fuel economy of 3.4 litres / 100 kms and CO2 emissions of just 89gms / km, according to an official Tata Motors statement.

To take the concept of it being a European city car further, Tata engineers have also added some nimble features to the Pixel. One of them is its unbelievable ability to park in the tightest of slots in typical crowded city conditions. In addition to its small footprint, the Tata Pixel’s ability to manoeuvre and park is made possible by its Zero Turn toroidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT), which assists rotation of the outer rear wheel forwards and the inner rear wheel backwards, while the front wheels turn at acute angles. The result is a turning circle radius of just 2.6 metres. Adding to the novelty factor and assisting in its tight parking ability are the ‘scissor’ doors, which rotate upwards from the front to allow passengers to effortlessly enter or exit the Tata Pixel.

Another unique aspect of the Pixel concept is the demonstration of ‘My Tata Connect’ - the first integrated human-machine interface (HMI) concept from Tata Motors. The system is designed to provide a high level of connectivity for the Pixel user by just connecting and integrating controls for the key functions in the driver’s smart phone! By connecting the tablet or smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Tab in the demo unit) and the running HMI, the user can access key functions and check necessary data by just touching the screen of the handset. In addition to doing its job as a phone, the tablet or smartphone also serves as the infotainment display allowing changes to temperature, ventilation and aircon settings.

The steering wheel and related controls in the Pixel are also very simple and focus on ease-of-use. In the concept, the smart steering wheel, with the cut-away bottom section, sports ‘+ / –’ controls on the thumb holds, possibly to allow manual gear selection (a variation over the paddle gear shifters in current day cars). The controls could also be for controlling the volume of the infotainment system.

The Pixel concept displayed also featured a very funky automatic gear selection knob, which was simply positioned on an appendage sticking out of the driver’s seat. With the clutch pedal being absent, the throttle and brake pedals were again just marked with large ‘+’ and ‘–‘ signs to represent their functions.

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Published on March 16, 2011
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