The Tata Nano is no longer the world's cheapest car! Jostling along with Tata Nano, this July, will be Tara Tiny and Tara Titu. These are zero emission, electric cars and cost only Rs 99,000! And they come from the Tara International stable.
Tara S Ganguly, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, had a big dream. And he set about realising it 'in a small way.' Tara International has teamed up with China's Aucma, a leading player in the electrical vehicles and appliances segment, to manufacture these cars.
At the moment, four variants of electric cars are ready at the Tara International factory at Palta, a few kilometers from Kolkata. These are Tara Tiny, Tara Titu (two-seater and four-seater, respectively), Tara Shuttle, and Tara Carrier. While Tara Tiny and Tara Titu are priced at Rs 99,000 (approximately), Tara Shuttle and Tara Carrier are priced at Rs 500,000 (approximately).
The company will also launch electric bikes priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 35,000.
The Tara series cars are available in electric red, black and white. Bikes comes in varied hues -- green, blue, red.
Each of the cars can be recharged daily at 220 volts through 15 amp sockets, whereas the bikes can be recharged through 5 amp sockets.
A daily 6-hour charge enables bikes to travel 80 to 100 km, whereas the cars (all variants) need 8 hours of charging to cover the same distance.
Some of the cars that are available at the moment at the company's factory are left-hand drives as "they are meant for the markets in the United States and China," informed Ganguly. "Those meant for the Indian market are being reassembled at our workshops."
Apart from West Bengal, the company's other production centres are located in Pondicherry and Lucknow.
Ganguly played down the competition-with-Nano line. He categorically stated that neither he nor his cars have any intention of taking on the Tata Nano. "Nano is a Rs 1-lakh car. In its case, it is the cost that is the centre of attraction."
"But the cars that I have conceptualised are 'green' cars. Therefore, the question of comparing these (environment-friendly cars) with the Nano doesn't arise at all," he said.
"The only note of similarity between the two happens to be the price, while the Nano is a Rs 100,000-plus car, my Tara small cars are priced approximately at Rs 99,000," he said.
When asked why had he planned to launch electric vehicles, Ganguly replied, "Electric cars perform certain jobs much better than any other alternative - gasohol (a fuel mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline), biodiesel, compressed natural gas and liquid petroleum gas."
"One, they are simple, because the number of moving parts are fewer in number - just 35, compared to over 2,500 for gasoline-powered vehicles. Fewer parts mean less maintenance and simpler service. Also, electric cars do not need oil, filters and coolants."
Do battery operated cars have any disadvantage? "The only disadvantage lies in their speed. These cars cannot run faster than 50 kms an hour. But then that is supposed to be the sane speed for confined and populated areas," he justified.
Tara International has teamed up with China's Aucma, a leading player in the electrical vehicles and appliances segment, to manufacture these cars.
The company has introduced 'distributed manufacturing on contract system,' informed the company vice president Biswajit Das, while speaking to rediff.com.
"It means, the company is training a group of units at various parts of India to assemble the car and bike parts, repair and maintain them. The company plans to set up 50 such units across the country, out of which five are ready as of now."
Tara International has so far tied up with a few Indian companies to set up charging units at shopping malls across the country. Neither Ganguly nor Das want to reveal these companies' names at the moment.