Tata Motors : UK production gives Vista EV a headstart on Nissan Leaf
Tata Motors Limited announced this week that small scale production of the Vista EV supermini has now begun in Coventry and that full scale production should commence next year.
The Vista EV is the final production version of the Vista EVX prototype which proved its credentials by winning the Most Economic Small Passenger EV and the Most Economical and Environment Friendly Small Passenger EV awards on last year’s inaugural RAC Brighton to London Future Car Challenge.
The production-ready Vista EV was exhibited at this month’s Geneva Motor Show where a Tata Motors’ representative hinted to AROnline that an announcement about the start of UK production was imminent. The first 25 Vista EVs are to be supplied to the Technology Strategy Board (TSB)-sponsored Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrator (CABLED) Programme but the company currently plans to assemble a total of 1500 units in all.
An additional 23 workers have been recruited by Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc (TMETC) which already employs 200 staff at the company’s facility on the University of Warwick’s campus in Coventry and more will be hired as production increases. Interestingly, TMETC has opted to follow the same production model as that adopted by MG Motor UK Limited for the new MG6 – part-built vehicles arrive from India and then the batteries, transmission and interior trim are added.
With our Technology Centre at Warwick University, this is an extension of that activity and with our own manufacturing unit, Coventry is the natural place to be. Everyone is looking at this (electric vehicle technology) and, as the volume of vehicles grow, they will become more cost-effective.” Steve Ocock, General Manager – Manufacturing, Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc
Steve Ocock, TMETC’s General Manager – Manufacturing, told BBC News: ‘With our Technology Centre at Warwick University, this is an extension of that activity and with our own manufacturing unit, Coventry is the natural place to be. Everyone is looking at this (electric vehicle technology) and, as the volume of vehicles grow, they will become more cost-effective.’
The Tata Vista EV has a range of 110 miles with a top speed of 71mph and the TMETC (and former MG Rover) Engineers we spoke to in Geneva earlier this month saw the car’s role as that of an urban runabout rather than as a motorway cruiser. However, unlike, for instance, the MINI E, the Vista EV can accommodate four people. The Engineers heaped praise on the Nissan Leaf but pointed out that the Vista EV looked more like a proper car which should appeal to the more conservative buyer. The car which AROnline examined in the metal was certainly not a headline-grabbing Concept car but a fully-functioning, production ready EV.
The remaining vehicles in the batch of 1500 units are expected to go on sale to the general public at the beginning of 2012. The exact on the road price has yet to be confirmed but sources have suggested that will be between £25,000 and £30,000. However, as the Vista EV qualifies for the Government’s £5000 Plug-In Car Grant, the actual purchase cost should be reduced to a more affordable level.
Mind you, saving the planet apparently has another additional cost – the Coventry Telegraph recently reported that a Vista EV had been ticketed for overstaying a three hour time limit while allegedly recharging in a Coventry car park…