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Tata Megapixel concept unveils at Geneva as a new and innovative range extended electric

Move over and make some room, Opel Ampera, there's a new RE-EV coming from India's largest automaker and Tata has pulled out all the design stops for this little powerhouse of engineering.

Most Americans are unaware that one of the world's largest automakers is based in India. Tata Motors currently builds some of the most common vehicles seen on the roads of Asia and parts of Europe and is one of the more innovative world automotive companies of late. Following on their Pixel concept, which debuted last year at the Geneva Motor Show, Tata unveiled an upgraded, larger, and even more technologically advanced version, which they're calling the Megapixel.

This new concept is a range extended electric vehicle (RE-EV), which means it operates as an electric car that uses an on-board gasoline engine to extend its range in a way similar to the Chevrolet Volt or its European sibling the Opel Ampera. Unlike the Ampera, however, the Megapixel is capable of making a 180-degree turn inside a lane, can be recharged without plugging in by using inductive charging, and it is all wheel driven (has four motors); and it does all of this while seating four comfortably.

The Megapixel uses lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries that can be charged through an induction plate fitted to any parking space or garage. So, rather than plugging into a wall outlet, the car can be parked over the top of the charging station and charging begins automatically.

The car's four motors propel it to a maximum speed of 68.4mph and its total range is 559 miles, about 40 miles of which are all-electric. One of the Megapixel's greatest assets is in its intelligent use of those four motors, using them to propel each wheel individually so that, along with the car's four-corner wheel placement, the Megapixel can turn within a radius of only 2.8 meters - just over nine feet. That awesome turn is coupled with one of the more innovative door systems seen on a concept in recent times.

To top off the Megapixel's excellent city cred are its four sliding doors. None of the doors on this Tata concept open outwards, they all slide to minimize the space required to get in and out of the vehicle - a big bonus in crowded urban settings. The front doors slide forward and the rear doors slide back, giving completely pillar-less access to the interior.

The design of the car was conducted at multiple Tata locations, including their centers in the United Kingdom, India, and Italy. Tata has not released any production plans or price points for the Megapixel and since the company has no operations in North America, it's unlikely it would ever be seen here.

Here is an excellent marketing video produced by Tata for the Megapixel:


Nicolas Zart    March 12, 2012 - 10:16AM

I think it's hard to grasp how important this little car is. Not only does it come from Tata who has been virtually pouring millions of dollars into research and eyeing the international market, being the third carmaker in India, Rotan wants to jump above his competition badly.

Add to this the work they have done on the Nano, reputed to be the world's cheapest car, now they have an advanced plug-in hybrid, that's the correct term for it. Add to it induction charging, which is the simplest way of recharging an EV and PHEV, being pretty sure charging plates will pop up here in there on parking lots and you have a potential winner on your hands.

The one thing that will be interesting to see in the future is how does the in-hub motors work. The idea of independent four propulsion is great on paper but has some serious drawbacks. First, the wheels become heavy and you lower your unsprung balance. Second the gyro effect has to be counter-balanced, lastly what happens in the unlikely case a motor is shot? You have a lot of steering issues.

This car is awesome on just every any angles you can cover it. Sliding doors! What a touch!

Anonymous (not verified)    March 12, 2012 - 4:17PM

In reply to by Nicolas Zart

The four wheel, in hub motors is though not a paradigm shift is presently the most advanced and innovative energy saving concept which is already tested with jaguar and is possibly available with newer models.

There is more potential for four wheel hub concept and it is a maximized concept in terms of present day concept hybrid cars, which in fact offers more possibilities in four wheel drive and other potential areas of industrial auto mobile applications.

When jaguar announced this hub technology application which also is a power buster in addition to energy saving or maximizing, The Tata think tank did act wisely in incorporating in a small car , which though prove expensive but is sure a winner for both the buyer and for the company with potential for large scale manufacturing.

Anonymous (not verified)    March 12, 2012 - 10:53AM

If this is typical of other electric hybrids, then this is just a cancer box. It is like riding around inside a cell phone. Electromagnetic radiation in these cars is way beyond what a professional electrician is allow exposure to. Sadly, the public does not have anyone informing them about such serious risks like only some electricians do. Unless Tata is fully shielded, it will give you cancer. Period.

Aaron Turpen    March 12, 2012 - 11:08PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

How much EMF is emitted depends a lot on the car in question and how it's made. Comparing it to a cell phone is comparing two completely different types of emissions. Cell phones don't emit electro-magnetics, they emit radio frequency. A very different problem as RFR is known to be potentially much more energetic than EMFs are.

Second, EMFs are almost all short range. They don't emit in a "field" around the car, but in relatively small fields around the high-energy electric components, usually the batteries at their discharge point (terminals) and the wiring from there to the converter, which is often very near the batteries to start with. The field is much smaller than the car - much much smaller.

Test measurements using the proper tools (EM detectors tuned to specific frequencies, not the generalized ones electricians usually use on the job) actually show your steel belted radials emit more EMFs than do most EV batteries/cables.

Of course, with inductive charging.. that's a whole different EMF issue.

Aaron Turpen    March 14, 2012 - 2:36PM

In reply to by Nicolas Zart

Consumer Reports did a test on several vehicles back in August of 2010, and I did a writeup on in July that year on the ins and outs of EMFs and EMRs and how they differ in AC and DC applications as well as high voltage systems such as lithium-ion battery packs in the typical EV as well as their wiring and converters.

The Gauss meter used is a huge factor in how accurate the readings are. The standard meters used by electricians to "sense" power flow are largely inaccurate and do not give a good indication of the size of the field, nor the type.

Statis EMR, given off by DC, is smaller, lighter, and much less damaging than vibratory EMR (AC) is. Consumer Reports found the highest levels of EMFs to be in the Chevy Cobalt, a non-hybrid/electric at 30 milligaus. Nearly all vehicles, with the exception of two Chevrolets, read under 10mG and most were under 5. Those were peak readings (not averages) and were measured at the highest point (driver's feet).

Compared to an average ambient mG of 3 in most cities, most of these cars are emitting less than or equal to what we are exposed to daily. Half the cars on the list were hybrids.

Lee Brewer (not verified)    March 12, 2012 - 11:28AM

Tata auto designs are impressive. I particularly like the Indigo. The Megapixel has excellent styling and apparently an improved LED night highway illuminating design. I liked the extreme convenience of inductive charging. It would be even better if it were quick charging. However, it did not appear from watching the video that any of the windows rolled down - and I am not sure about the Global appeal - if this is true. Maybe the extreme ease of parking in urban areas will overcome the window issue. I wish them well with this car.

Aaron Turpen    March 12, 2012 - 11:12PM

In reply to by Lee Brewer (not verified)

Keep in mind that this is just a concept, not a production model. I suspect a lot of things would change at production. Not having windows that roll down would likely be a sales killer for a car, you're right.

I'm not ecstatic about the looks of the Megapixel, but its underlying features and engineering are totally awesome.