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Geneva show: Tata’s plug-in hybrid Megapixel concept

All-wheel drive, sliding doors for Tata’s plug-in hybrid Megapixel city car concept

8 Mar 2012

INDIAN car-maker Tata Motors used this week’s Geneva motor show to unveil its Megapixel concept, a plug-in hybrid successor to the three-cylinder diesel Pixel it showed at the Swiss show last year.

Like the Pixel, the Megapixel has no B-pillars, but instead of the earlier car’s dramatic scissor doors, entry is via a pair of sliding doors on each side.

The doors part from the centre of the car, with just a thin seal between the adjoining windows.

Viewed from the side with the doors open, the Megapixel’s four seats appear to float as they are only attached to the central ‘transmission’ tunnel that holds the battery pack, providing extra storage space in the gap between the seats and the floor.

Inside the minimalist cockpit are a smartphone dock and a large touchscreen on the dash to provide traditional switchgear functions plus infotainment and connectivity options.

Running under the power of its Lithium-ion phosphate battery alone, the Megapixel has a claimed 87km zero-emissions range.

47 center imageTata claims the Megapixel can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes using a fast-charger, or wirelessly if parked over an induction pad.

A 22kW single-cylinder petrol engine is used to charge the battery and feed power to the four 10kW electric motors for a combined 500Nm of torque at the wheels and a 900km total range.

Improving on the Pixel’s Zero Turn steering system, the Megapixel employs an electric motor at each wheel that can be driven in opposite directions while the front pair do most of the steering, resulting in a remarkable 5.6-metre turning circle and easy parking for the 3.5-metre-long car.

For comparison, London taxis, noted for their impressively small turning circles, and Toyota’s tiny 3.0-metre-long Toyota iQ can complete a U-turn in about eight metres.

Tata says the Megapixel displays “Indian uniqueness” with its colours, graphic themes and materials while recognising global styling preferences.

The stylists have seemingly been inspired by cars such as the Opel Meriva, Mercedes-Benz B-class and Kia Rio.

The headlight lenses extend right across the centre of the car, replacing the traditional radiator grille, while front and rear bumpers feature a matrix of tiny circular air vents, as seen on similar concepts like the Kia Pop from the 2010 Paris show, the Smart Forspeed from Geneva last year and the original Pixel.

The windscreen extends from deep in the bonnet into a panoramic glass roof and the glassy theme extends along the Megapixel’s flanks with the effect of one long window that sweeps under the ‘floating’ C-pillar into the glass tailgate.

Both the Pixel and Megapixel provide a peek into the future of Indian megacity cars, an area pioneered by Tata with its sub-$A2000 Nano, the world’s cheapest new car.

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