The problem with the word affordable is that it means different things to different people. While some consider $20,000 to be “affordable”, other see $100,000 as chump change. Never the less, if electric cars are to make a dent in the automobile market, they need to be below the $20,000.
From the i MiEV to the Tesla Model S. Currently the most expensive electric car gives you the best performance, up to 160 miles starting at around $50,000 or so, climbing to 300 miles at under $70,000 with options up to $100,000. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mitsubishi i MiEV comes in at the most affordable price, shy of $30,000. Both these cars and others can have a further reduction of $7,500 in federal incentives, as well as other state and local incentives if applicable. Nonetheless, the cheapest Tesla Model S is over $40,000 and in some cases the Mitsubishi i MiEV close to $17,000.
Tata Promises Below $20,000 EV. The Tata group, which owns Jaguar and Land Rover in a complete karmic twist of irony, has also dabbled with electric cars, EV and offers the famous sub-$2,000 Nano. According to the EconomicTimes, the group's engineering services outsourcing and product development IT services arm, called Tata Technologies has just finished its first feasibility Mobility, eMO study of an electric vehicle using Dassault Systemes' 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.
What this means is that the holy grail of electric cars could come from one of the oldest surviving culture in the world, India. But how will they do this and at what price? The company says it is working to leverage its global engineering team talents to meet design and cost constraints at under $20,000.
In order to do this, all systems will have to fit into a small footprint, while maintaining spacious seating for four adults. Think the original Mini here. By using the Dassault simulation software, CATIA and ENOVIA, it will quickly develop various further studies that would allow for a global collaboration to evaluate and converge on optimal solutions. In other words, the simulation will optimize ways to develop and build an affordable electric car.
So this leaves us again with two questions. Does Tata have enough money to spend on research in order to build an “affordable” car and how will it make a profit on it? The other is, is sub-$20,000 affordable enough for most people in this recession? Those are questions that we can only answer individually, based on our incomes and budgets, but if Tata does succeed in building a sub-$20,000 with enough range, say 100 miles, than it stands a chance to revolutionize the mass adoption of electric cars.