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Tata Megapixel Global City Car full of surprizes


March 7, 2012

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Tata Motors continued to upstage its far-longer established automaking peers at the 82nd Geneva Motor Show overnight with the Tata Megapixel concept, a new four-seater range extended electric vehicle (REEV).

The Megapixel is the evolution of last year's Pixel concept and uses four in-wheel 10 kW motors and a 325 cc single cylinder petrol range-extending engine that generates 22 kW while charging the lithium ion phosphate battery. The result is a range of 900 km (559 miles) and an electric-only range of 87 km (54 miles).

The Megapixel has several other killer party tricks, including acutely turning wheels which give it a turning radius of just 2.8 meters (9.2 ft) and an inductive home charging system - park over the induction pad and it charges itself without needing to be plugged in. There's also those very useful automatic double doors.

The Megapixel is a good looking little beastie, and was developed by Tata's design centres in India, the UK and Italy. As a global car concept, this is both the company's evolving idea of the ideal city car for global urban environments, and the one you're most likely to see first if you don't live in India.

Tata Motors is India's largest automobile company, with enormous prospects. A few decades from now, India will be a superpower, with the world's largest population having transitioned from bicycles to scooter and now aspiring to drive a car. India's vehicle ownership ratios are currently the same as America's were in 1912 - when the Model T Ford was top seller.

Tata is already huge with consolidated revenues of US$27 billion in 2010-11 and operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and South Africa. Among them is Jaguar Land Rover, the distribution of Fiat cars in India, and the market leader in commercial vehicle sales in India. Indeed, it is already the world's fourth largest truck manufacturer and third largest bus manufacturer. Tata is unquestionably coming to a market near you, so if you think the Megapixel is worthy of consideration, it might yet become available locally.

The Tata Pixel which was shown at Geneva in 2011 had a "Zero Turn" drive system which has been evolved further in the Megapixel. When parking, the four independent electric hub motors drive the wheels in opposite directions, while the front wheels are turned at an acute angle. The unfeasibly small turning circle will enable parking in spaces you wouldn't even consider in a small car - very impressive and very useful!

The at-home induction charging system is another no-brainer. Time-saving and very convenient benefits are heavy motivators. It only takes a minute or so to plug and unplug a plug-in hybrid, but the two minutes a day you save adds up and it's one less of life's chores to tick off the list.

Getting into and out of a small car is also no easy task, and doubly difficult for the taller among us. More accessibility means much easier loading and securing of goods and children and the Megapixel's double-sliding door system and B-pillar-less design is very clever and genuinely useful.

Inside, it's bigger than you'd expect because the battery layout and hub motors maximize interior space.

Accordingly, the Megapixel accommodates four adults with luggage.

The front seats are cleverly cantilevered on the central tunnel, releasing floor space underneath the seats for additional storage.

Like every other automotive design house on the planet, Tat's has focused heavily on the human machine interface (HMI). There's a docking point on the console for a smart phone and the interface is based around a large touchscreen in the center of the instrument panel. The touch screen controls all the functions of the car, from climate to driving modes.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Too bad we won't see this in the US any time soon (ever?). I want one. Wonder if I could put a couple kayaks on top.

Bryan Paschke

very impressive if you are in the city less so if you want the Nuremburg Ring


Looks great but why the piddly gas mileage? My 1998 Peugeot 106 1500cc diesel does 70 miles per gallon (uk gallons) . This car is listed as doing 100 km/l - which is less???

I think car manufacturers need to focus on cost of distance travelled vehcile design and marketing rather than Co2 emissions. As a UK consumer where it costs £1.40 per litre of diesel this is really important!

Also I think that small engines (whether in hybrid config or not) dont always deliver best economy. As an example, my father had a motorhome based on a 2000cc ford transit, it woudlnt do more than 60 mph and gave him an appalling 12mpg at that speed. I bought a 1972 ford econoline motorhome which had a 5000cc motor, this could cruise at 70mph and do 85 mph if I wanted it to, it also delivered 17-20 mpg. It wasnt struggling.

I have a fear that this little car, llike the Smart 4-2 will be absolutely thrashed by its UK owners who all drive it on the motorways at some point and will want to travel at 80mph. This little 1 cylinder will be screaming its tits off to acheive less than this speed and will no doubt have poor economy as a result.

my two uneducated - but experienced cents... :)


I make 100km/l as about 280mpg, not bad, though you must add on the cost of the electricity if you re-charge from the grid. I'm guessing that's the fuel consumption when backing up a fully charged battery. Once the battery is run down and the little engine is trying to recharge it and power the car, I imagine it would struggle to compete with a fully-laden tuk-tuk.

Ben Grillet

70 mpg vs 100 km/l? It's a fairly easy comparison (heck, type it into Google to get it done for you!) 100 km/l is roughly 235mpg... considerably more than the 1500cc diesel's 70mpg. But, hey what's the point in researching the basic fundamental of your argument? Also while we're at it, why not compare like for like? a Ford Econoline is a completely different kettle-of-fish to a Transit. the gearing and engine characteristics of a transit are intended to pull the vehicle efficiently when fully loaded (upto over 7.5tonnes), whereas an econoline is really a recreational vehicle, where it's PRIMARY use isn't to pull heavy loads. Also aerodynamics have a huge affect on engine load (and hence, economy) and there could be serious differences between the two vehicles. As for attacking car companies over their obsession with co2? Well that's hardly fair, the obsession with co2 come from the government's own taxation and penalty systems which hugely affect new cars buyers (especial fleet and company car purchases), and believe it or not, car companies have to make car's that can be sold, so they can keep hundreds of thousands of people employed. Like me.


Jeremy a 100Km/l is a lot of range for pretty much little fuel. Lets do the conversion: 70 miles equals 112,65 km. A UK Gallon is 4,55 liters. Those 70 miles per gallon roughly translates into 25Km/l. So the first idea of of your post give the advantage to the "little car" because indeed have fuel economy. If you check the specification sheet (last image in the article) it says the maximum speed is 110 Km/h or 68 Mph. The car is designed as a city dweller not a road runner. you can use it to travel but don't do it fast. Opposite to tradition that little engine is not there to give power directly to the wheels but to the battery. That's why is called a range extender and it won't be screaming to achieve any speed. It will keep and optimum regime of work to charge the battery. The economy won' be reduced. Now if you want to go fast then the distance will be very short.

Marco Gonzalez

@Jeremy Davies : i don't know how you calculate your consumption or i must have mis understood it. A consumption of 1 L/100km is like 1/4 of your 70 mpg!! So it seems to be a very nice car...


@Jeremy.davies :

Do you know that everybody doesn't live in UK..... ? Do you know that everybody doesn't "overall" need to cruise at 80 mph.... ? Do you know that the average "milage" of a city car in Europe is less than 50 Km / day ?


Eric Drakar

Brilliant! Why can't Ford and GM make cars like this?


As with any innovative and efficient small automobile, this is best as a shared vehicle (in a carshare, carclub, peer-to-peer system...). We better hope that the population of India doesn't fully "transition" from bicycles to automobiles, as the world cannot handle all this would require -- and Indian roads would fill up. China is realizing now that it has made some mistakes in this area and at least some brave mayors there are guaranteeing a future for cycling (and use of public transport).

Todd Edelman

Jeremy Davies, funny you should attack a company for making a car, why not attack other car companies or their design concepts. And you're comparing different types of vehicles shows you have no concept of mileage and vehicle types. This car has very respectable mileage for its size and category. The only problem is that it quickly moves off the concept stage and be in production.

Dawar Saify

This is the way for future mobility, even if never plugged in, thermal motor can be used at its optimum efficiency, and one cilynder motor can be much mor fuel efficent than four cilynders.. This means a great savings of what need to be considered a world's "common resource". Another consideration to be made is how many kilometers are done each year outside the radious of 87 km. I believe not so many for most people.. Not to mention that if I were the owner of a commercial centre, by example, i would let my customer charge their car for free, with a 3kwh hour outlet cost would be less than 50c per hour (and in italy energy is the most expensive), I think it is a good deal! Right now electricity costs less than 1/10 th of gasoline, and governments do not like to increase its cost beacouse of the higher impact over the middle class, ask yourself when there will be a real alternative and gasoline will be used mostly by Lamborghini owners.. Price will be the same?

Federico Galloni

What the heck I'd love to ride in one and maybe buy one.

Richie Suraci

Awesome design - I would buy this today, lets hope Tata do a better job of getting it to production faster than VW etc. We have been tantilised with 200mpg cars before but nothing has yet appeared near the showrooms.


This is the most promising urban car design I've seen. The question is whether or not something like this can be brought to American cities, meeting the DOT safety standards, and at a competitive price (without a $10,000 tax credit).

Pat Kelley

Speaking from Detroit, Wow! This is a little beauty and it sure looks great in the candyapple colors.

The basic concept is that of the Volt and the Converj or the ELR. Same T shape layout for the batteries so less danger from a side impact collision. GM knew what it was doing. Others with the bed of batteries are in danger.

The Doors, the individual wheel motors, the unbelievable turning radius, the beautiful interior, the gorgeous lines... this is a REAL statement.

If Tata tried to market it here at a low price we would have a quantum leap Model T and it would turn the world on to inexpensive, responsible transportation.

And what's interesting is that if they created an 8 power wheeled version as the Japanese Professor has done, the luxury market would be taken as well, having created the safest, smoothest, quietest ride of all.

I now wonder where their designer studied. He's good!

Bill Dickens

Island Architect

Sounds like an ideal economy car to me. We would have to have a minivan or microvan for long trips however. Americans families tend to have two or more vehicles anyway.

Ron Wagner

To answer the complaint about maximum speed: freeways in California have a tendency to be clogged and allow an average speed well below 69mph, so even on freeways the Tata could survive. And if public demand called for more speed, I'm sure future models could easily accommodate it. Overall, this seems worth trying.

Rich Mansfield

Excellently designed, easily accessible using walker/wheelchair. Outstanding!!! Sadly, since it is outstanding; we probably will not see this Tata in the US. I like this and I like the US so I can only dream a similar design will make it here.

Chris Jordan

This is done almost right, closest I've seen on the market. Gas generator only needs repolacing with a high efficiency diesel. Can I buy it in North America?

Max Kennedy

I wonder was there a misprint on the Tata extender 325cc petrol engine.

I have a twin 350cc petrol engine generator, which is 5KW, even at that, a 3KW kettle has an effect on it fuel consumption. This vehicle has four motors, a total of 40KW. In addition, this little 325cc engine is going to generated 22KW. It does not seem to add up.



I like it! Just add a solar cell roof for self charging in the parking lot.


I called the Nissan dealer to see if the Micra II would become available in the US but was told that it was limited to Europe because it would not pass the safety standards here. I suppose this may also happen to the Megapixel. The Megapixel power system is especially well balanced because it uses electricity from the power pack to run the four hub motors and then the small petrol motor or a home charger to replenish the charge on the batteries. Just because the hub motors are rated at 10 Kw each and the charger system is rated at 22 Kw does not throw the system off balance because when a car is in cruising mode, it does not use maximum HP. In fact, I estimate that a car of this size in cruising mode should use only about 8 Kw, depending upon speed. Higher power would be needed for increased speeds to overcome air resistance. The front of the car is designed well but I do not like the flat back which will cause suction at higher speeds. If the back could be tapered, the upper speed limit would rise. However, since the Megapixel is designed as a city car, most of the time it would be doing under 45 mph so for this purpose, it would be alright.

Adrian Akau

re; jeremy.davies

Blame the green fascist who foisted the AGW fraud and the people that believed them for the emphasis on CO2. ............................................................................................................................

Aside from the electrical hybrid system I like it. make it a pneumatic hybrid and I'm there.


Proud Indian :)

Abby George

That shape is surprisingly aerodynamic. Have a look at the Merc 2005 concept Bionic Car based on the "boxfish": http://www.gizmag.com/go/4133/

Brian Hall

Yes you are all right, there has been some gross negligence on my part as my eyes saw 100 mpg on the (hard to read) data sheet that was in the image set. Indeed 235mpg is very very good. I woudl buy one tommorow.

Also I understand that the little single cylinder would be in generator rather than drive configuration, however I think that I am right in sayign that most owners of small city cars both in the UK and Europe (@Eric Jean Journeaux!) will make inter-city runs frequently and people in the UK (and on the continent Eric) DO hammer these cars so this little engine will be at full power as a generator if the driver is trying a fairly standard European cruing speed.

To avoid confusion - I am a greeny and actually imported the first Plug in Prius into Australia to sell in the worlds first green superstore (FAILED!), I have owned 2 x Priuses! I am of course all for CO2 reduction. But as a marketing man, mpg is the number to focus on, it speaks to both the green buyer who already understands that high MPG = low emissions and the general consumer who might think that a green car is not going to give them the features that they are used to in a normal car ie, power, speed and comfort.

I think if you have a large placard out side a Tata dealer that shows a Ford Focus and a MegaPixel and the comparison of costs for completing 500 miles - this would really trigger a response from all consumers.

BTW if you want to have a look at what a failed Eco Superstore looks like - go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NtnvWcVrFk&context=C45d85ddADvjVQa1PpcFNe2cs6bNtqP2lQkdl-2yUQuoGMakyZqm4=


The "greenness" of the car is utterly irrelevant, as is CO2 as a "forcing agent" for the climate. Efficiency and convenience are worthwhile for their own sakes.

I wonder if we're going to need a new acronym. This is sort of a PHEV, except that it's not "plug-in". It uses inductive charging! So I guess "IHEV"?? :D

Brian Hall

Nice car,

But I do have to question the obsession with 4 wheeled, 4 seater boxes when most vehicle use is by single individuals (Seeing one person driving one of those monster pickup trucks in the US or the obscene 5000cc + utes in Australia is enough to leave me swearing for the whole day. Ditto the obsession with speed. Nuremberg Ring! Goodness gracious me.

Why not concentrate on personal transport covered elec-assist 3 wheelers that give you a bit of exercise but not make you sweat (the Dutch developed Drymer is a good example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtHyF8DQ9ls&feature=related) and if you must have a 2-seater then MIT MeidaLab's folding , networked city car http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1MSMj08BVU.

And if you must have everyone in one box, say going on a holiday, then hire the damned thing.


The double doors strike me as an alignment nightmare down the road. I also wonder about how it takes a hit. The Pixel is barely 1300 pounds. I've driven 1300 pound cars before, but getting in an accident with anything larger than a motorcycle is likely to fold this thing like an accordion. If it comes anywhere near passing US Federal crash tests, I would be shocked.

Having said that, it looks pretty neat to drive.

I do wish the pickups had made it here to the states though. Maybe push Detroit to get it together when it comes to small trucks.


to LSD and the other posters who dont know- a litre is somewhat closer to a quart than to a gallon- a whole lot closer. And a 100 km is about 60 miles. Please go read some dictionary before you keep babling innane things like "these are the same milages..."

Ah- TATA, who couldn't get the Nano plant because the incompetent Indian gov't blew the whole process. The same Indian Gov't which is consistently one of the most corrupt (bribe powered) 9on the globe! Pray for Tata!


I agee with VoiceofReason on the sliding doors. I think that the safety features will have to include sensor activated external airbags and/or also foam steel. I think it would be simpler to use a foam steel system since foam steel is supposed to have excellent shock absorbant qualities and would be much simplier/cost effective to install.

Adrian Akau

Hi Jermy.davies - as to your ??? 70 Mpg = 4 L/100 Km; Actually = 4.0354419476 l/100 Km, as per http://www.markporthouse.net/rangie/fuelconsumptionconversion.htm# (That is a bit worse!)

This car is rated as doing 100 Km/l, which is to say 1 L per 100 kms = 4 x better than your 70 Mpg (UK gallons).

Next - my 2000 lb, 15 year Old, Lead Acid Powered, Highschool converted, Electric Conversion of a Pontiac Firefly - now known as 'Electricfly' (www.myelectricfly.com) uses about 14 kW to drive at 100 Kph (62 mph). I have driven it up to 108 Kph, but had to brake for traffic. The above mentioned 'Range Extender' is capable of 22 kW output, so I could probably go about a full 145 Kph in my car, and I aslo know that Lead Acid Powered Conversions - when switched over to Lithium Iron Phosphate, use aobut 30 - 40% Less Energy to move them, based on the experience of those who have Tens of Thousands of Electric Miles in their Vehicles.

Also - the power range spread in my car - are about 67-100 Wh/Km for gentler driving, and about 277 - 285 Wh/Km for aggressive driving. Simply - the spread there - is a range of about a worst case senario of 4.25X difference (67 Wh/Km vs. 285 Wh/Km), and otherwise about a 2.77X Spread (100 Wh/Km vs. 277 Wh/Km), so how you drive anything makes a big difference!

Also - I have owned a few of these in Gas Power - First was a New one in 1987, Summer time, that I was able to get better than book ratings on my first week - at about 5.4 L/100 km! (It was rated at 5.5 L/100 Km!) 40 litre tank gave me about 800 kms on first tank, and the next year - I drove from San Antonio Texas, to Toronto, Ontario, on 4 fills of a 10 gallon Tank! (Just $40 at the time!)

I once drove a nice little Ford Escort from Glasgow to Manchester, and Back; I think it was a 1.1 Litre Engine, but when driving it hard, it sucked the gas quite quickly, and in under two hours I had drained the tank! And - those 80 Mph Slow Pokes were usually in my Rear-View Mirror, or not long in front of me! So - yes I know the flow speeds there!

So - the same is true for any vehicle - the difference here - is that electric cars store from about a half gallon of gas worth of Energy (Chevy Volt, but they only let you use half of that!), up to about a bit under 3 Gallons worth of Energy - Gas Equivalent - in the Tesla Model S, yet the Model S will give you 300 miles at 55 Mph! Point being - the tiny little energy tank - still goes as far as it does on so little energy - because of the 85 - 90% Efficient Electric Drive System.

And - yes - I had a 1981 Chevy Citation 2.8 L, with a manual 4-speed with overdrive, that reved 3000 RPM at 80 Mph, while my 2010 Kia Soul 2.0 L, with a 4 speed Auto with overdrive, runs 3000 RPM at about 60 Mph! So - bigger motors can be made to run at lower RPM's since they need less perecntage of their total power at cruise! However - my Brothers Pickup - with a '454 Camper Special' Engine - sucked the gas as if it had the camper or a 300 Gallon Steel tank filled with water - even when it was empty! (No load on the box)

It realy is nice to hear your experience with your gas powered vehicles, but it does not sound like you have any personal experience with Electric Vehicles yet. Maybe you will be bold, and do an Electric Conversion of your own - if this car sucks the big one for you! Check out my website and my blog, and you will have a good start in making good decisitons on that path!

Robert Weekley


So much it hurts. Have just passed on my Ford Tardus whoops Ka, she of the 5.3 l/100km @ 110 km/hr, 4 pax & freight, and so dumped on by immature English males it’s a laugh. Here in Oz the Ka is are suddenly being resurrected everywhere & my older men, as being close to the ultimate economical (now old) car to buy and run. I drew similar to this little lovely about 5 years ago, when in-wheel drive units were becoming available, and thought then in terms of of super-insulated-constant-running Stirling engine driving a small alternator/inverter . . . The 22 kw extender here is obviously mean for serious range/speed stretching, not just top-up charging, 20 kw being about what a car of this weight/Cd would need to cruise @ 100/110 km. The Tata lads, given Mr Tata's usual go-for-it clean sheet, have produced a doozie of a design.



I love this car! This is the best prototype I've seen in years. I want to buy one!

Andreja Sinadinovic Vijatovic

This car is a necessity for various reasons....

1.Not everyone stay in USA/UK/Europe where fuel price is dirt cheap. 2. Natural reserves of petrol / disel will be facing exhaustion in future. This kind of vehiclles attempts to conserve Them. 3. Its best suited for a city drive. 4. 100km/L is incredible.... by any standards is much much higher atleast 4 times more efficient that the regular ones. Gallons- litres, miles- kilometres know the difference.... 5. Co2 emmision reduces..... environment friendly.... 6. Design and features exellent.....

Those who have commented with ignorance..... do give a second thought.....

Looking for this one.... Tata's hats off to you

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