Using the platform of its 2012 eMO four-occupant electric-powered concept car, Tata Technologies debuted the eMO-C commercial vehicle during an open house in March at the company’s new North American Engineering and Innovation Center.
Tata Technologies’ eMO-C (electric MObility-Commercial) is the first variant from the engineering service company’s 2012 eMO (electric MObility) concept car.
“The eMO-C has a 70% carryover of eMO’s content,” Kevin Fisher, Tata Technologies’ President of Vehicle Programs & Development, said during an SAE Magazines interview at the firm’s new 10,000-ft2 (929-m2) North American Engineering and Innovation Center in Troy, MI. Sixty engineers are currently working in Troy, but that center's workforce is expected to reach 100 engineers by the end of 2013.
Compared to the eMO, the eMO-C has no front passenger seat, and a flat-load floor replaces the rear seat. The eMO-C also lacks the eMO’s rear doors.
“To assist with loading and unloading, we designed a one-piece polycarbonate rear hatch that lifts and slides open. The tracks for the roof rack serve as the guide when the hatch door slides overtop the roof. This unique design means there is no intrusion on the available interior space,” explained Fisher.
Tata Technologies is seeking global patent protection for the lift-and-slide rear hatch design. Some of the eMO project’s15 patented items—ranging from product features and materials methodology to architectural elements—also appear on the van, which is 7.7 in (196 mm) shorter in overall length than a Fiat 500 A-segment hatchback.
Unlike eMO’s full physical vehicle reveal in January 2012, the eMO-C shown to media and others on March 14 was a computer-generated vehicle. Once the patent process is more entrenched, likely within six months, Fisher said a hardware model of the rear hatch will make its debut. In its virtual showing, eMO-C’s 53 ft3 (1.5 m3) of cargo space includes an 8-ft-long (2.4-m) loading zone going from the vehicle’s rear to the area adjacent to the driver’s seat.
The delivery van variant retains eMO’s liquid-cooled, dual motor front-wheel-drive system and its air-cooled, 18.4-kW·h lithium-ion battery system. But eMO-C offers multiple powertrain options.
“While the eMO’s personal mobility was fixed for an all-electric driving range of 100 miles, there are three battery options for the eMO-C to match the user’s delivery route,” Fisher said, referencing the choice of a 50-, 100-, or 150-mi (80-, 161-, or 241-km) range battery system.
Like the eMO, the delivery van uses an independent front lower A-arm and MacPherson struts. The rear suspension has a semi-trailing link with separate mounting points for shock absorbers and springs. Both vehicles have an antilock braking system with electronic stability control and an electric power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system.
The van variant maintains eMo’s front fascia and front doors. All body panels, including a van variant-specific rear fascia, are made with molded-in-color recycled polymer. And like eMO, the van would be assembled in a manufacturing facility without a traditional body shop or paint shop that accents green product materials and processes.
eMO and eMO-C share the same 85.8-in (2179-mm) wheelbase, matching front and rear tracks of 53.9 in (1369 mm), and width of 60.6 in (1539 mm). But the van’s 132-in (3353-mm) overall length is slightly longer than the eMO’s 117.9 in (2995 mm).
There are no plans to produce and sell the eMO-C. Still, Tata Technologies’ engineering study analyzed various factors (including a shared manufacturing footprint for both vehicles) to arrive at an MSRP for each of the three powertrain options. eMO-C with a 50-mi range is $15,750. The 100-mi-range vehicle is $19,750, and the 150-mi-range variant is $23,750.
The firm’s internal research estimates the per-mile cost to operate the eMO-C at 1.6 cents. “We really think the trend in North America and in Europe is for small delivery vans,” Fisher said.