Tata displays impressive European City car concept - the low-cost, high-tech Pixel
By Mike Hanlon
March 1, 2011
Growing Indian powerhouse Tata emphatically announced itself a player in European personal mobility at the Geneva Motor Show when it announced the Tata Pixel, a car built for European cities based on the Tata Nano. Tata claims the Pixel to be "the most package efficient four-seater in the world". The company's use of high-tech in the new vehicle includes connected services and Tata's own human-machine interface (HMI) concept, an infinitely variable transmission from Torotrak and a 1.2 liter turbo diesel offering 3.4 l/100km, but its biggest point-of-difference is that it is ultra maneuverable thanks to moveable wheels which give it a turning circle of just 2.6 meters.
The Pixel's extraordinary talent for maneuvering in very tight surroundings is due to the Torotrak Zero Turn toroidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT). The Nano's steering system is linked with the IVT control mechanism. By moving the outer rear wheel forward and the inner rear wheel backward, while the front wheels turn at more acute angles than we've seen before in anything but Nissan's PIVO I & II, the car essentially pivots around its rear axle. The resultant turning circle radius is just 2.6 meters.
As is becoming the custom with new city car designs, "scissor" doors have been used which enable the driver and passenger to exit the vehicle without requiring any footprint for door sweep.
Key functions are controlled by the driver's smart phone, running "My Tata Connect" which essentially uses the driver's smartphone or tablet as a central information display and touch-screen control panel for the car's entertainment and internet system, so the driver has the same media environment in the car as they have at the office and at home. Docking the tablet also allows a range of displays of the vehicles performance and adjustment of the air-con settings.
Even the turbocharged three-cylinder diesel engine has come in for a high tech workover with a variable coolant and oil pump and rapid warm-up technologies. The car has been optimized for aerodynamic drag in a wind tunnel, uses low rolling-resistance tyres, and micro-hybrid (stop-start) to eek out the last bits of energy so it can return a 3.4 l/100km European combined cycle (NEDC) fuel economy figure.
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