Ironically making a small electric vehicle is a far greater challenge than making a super car that runs on juice from a battery pack. It is not so much an engineering challenge, as it is one of market logic and relevance. However controversial the topic continues to be, and even as the ‘Hows’ and ‘Whys’ are debated, the future of the automobile is going to be electric. There will be a ‘yo-yoing’ of both the costs-vs-benefits equation, and the EV ecosystem’s availability and reach, but finally it will find its own balance. And mass adoption of EVs will be only a matter of time. In that context, will the new Tata Tiago EV be the first of many to push further onto that boundary. Is it the small electric hatch you’ve been waiting for?
Tata Motors is the passenger EV market leader in India by a long margin (86 per cent share). The company has been a pioneer in nearly every segment of the affordable/ accessible category of the passenger vehicle market. After the success of the Nexon EV, and the introduction of the Tigor EV in the affordable electric sedan category, the Tiago EV is set to break further ground. While market expectations might have put mass adoption of passenger EVs past 2025, when Maruti is due to unveil its own EV for the masses, Tata Motors has taken the lead again with the new Tiago EV. So, what does the new electric hatch bring to the table?
The Tiago EV’s design is nearly identical to the conventional fuel version of the hatch. The small car’s look was already quite progressive and clean with a sharp front profile. It shares its front design with the Tigor sedan too. So, the front fascia is identical to the Tigor EV; the Tata Motors’ signature humanity line, tri-arrow theme and the EV-specific teal blue coloured accents have all been carried into the Tiago too. The bonnet grille is a solid panel (no engine under it) with some of the tri-arrow elements decorating the corners. It is good to see that Tata Motors hasn’t skimped on any features or design elements for the Tiago versus its sedan sibling, after all, EV buyers are likely are more mature and discerning.
The alloy wheels are different compared to the Tigor EV, but they continue to be 14-inch rims. There is also the option of specifying the Tiago EV with a contrast roof.
Tata Motors has smartly chosen not to position the new electric hatch like a stripped down, over simplified version of the Tigor EV; instead, the hatch gets all the hardware and even more software enabled features compared to the sedan. Company officials have clarified that Tigor EV owners needn’t feel cheated, because the suite of additional features will soon be available as over-the-air (OTA) updates for them too.
The Tiago EV’s cabin is also similarly kitted out. The dsahboard layout and the individual elements on the dash and door panels are all identical. But, in keeping with the positioning, Tata Motors has retained a lot of the premium hatch segment features that may have otherwise been kept out in an attempt at building to a price. On the contrary, the Tiago EV gets stuff like auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, leatherette seats, electric door mirrors etc.
In fact, fully automatic climate control and 45 different connected car features are part of standard kit in all variants. Depending on the trim variant, the cabin also gets an 8-speaker Harman Kardon infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The hatch is also fairly loaded with safety kit offering features like tyre pressure monitoring, hill start and descent assist, and two airbags as standard.
Power to the people
The Tiago EV will be offered with the option of two different battery packs - a lower capacity 19.2kWh and a 24kWh. Tata Motors officials say that production of the versions with the 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack will be prioritised based on customer expectations. Naturally, that version offers the longer driving range of about 315kms per charge (MIDC rated range). The 19.2kWh is said to offer a rated range of 250 km. Real world range will definitely be lower, and will depend on driving style and traffic conditions. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a 55KW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor. Torque generated is 170Nm, and Tata Motors claims a 0 to 60kmph run can be done in 5.7 seconds. The Tiago EV is also being offered with three other battery charging options in addition to the standard wall socket charger that you can use at home.
Depending on the variant you choose the car can also be had with either a 3.3kW AC charger or a higher capacity 7.2kW AC fast charger that can be installed. It will need to be plugged into the wall socket overnight for a full charge, but the 3.3kW charger will give a full charge in about 7-8 hours and the 7.2kW can deliver the same in about three and a half hours. There will also be the option of charging the car at a 50kW DC fast charger which can deliver an 80 per cent charge in about an hour.
Tata Motors says that the network of public charging stations is growing rapidly across the country and that it has already installed over 200 charging stations in apartment complexes which should enable more EV owners to find charging slots near their residences.
Should you buy?
Tata Motors is offering the Tiago EV with an 8-year or 1.6 lakh kms warranty for the battery pack and electric motor to clearly send out the message that it is ready to bet on the reliability of the system. The ZipTron architecture on which the Tiago EV has been built is an extensively tested and tried platform. The e-hatch itself is on a vehicle architecture that has been adapted from the conventional fuel Tiago and it’s X0 platform. The fact that it has been adapted from an ICE platform has disadvantages like the need for a split battery pack under the rear passenger seat and fuel tank area, which then intrudes into and limits the amount of boot space in the Tiago EV. But it has its cost advantages compared to a brand-new EV-specific platform, which then translates into a price advantage for the car buyer.
The Tiago EV has been officially launched and bookings will be opened later this week. Deliveries are however expected to begin only in January 2023. Priced between ₹8.5 lakh and ₹11.8 lakh, this is the most affordable EV currently in the market. We will have to wait for a few weeks to get our hands on the Tiago EV for a full on-road review.