Among many other things, we have told you in the past about how Tata Motors' highly-awaited SUV, the production-spec H5X, will come with a 2.0-litre diesel engine. Now, we can tell you that Tata could also look at introducing a hybrid variant of the SUV at a later date.
UPDATE: H5X SUV officially named Tata Harrier
At a recent interaction, Rajendra Petkar, CTO, Tata Motors, explained how the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) norms could necessitate the inclusion of hybrids and electric vehicles in the manufacturer's line-up and how that means a hybrid H5X could be a possibility some time down the road.
"The selection of the technology would always depend on what you want to achieve. Definitely one has to meet the regulations. The first phase of CAFE was implemented in 2017 and the next one is going to be there in 2022. If it’s going to be mandatory for compliance to the CAFE, and if (hybrid) supports compliance to CAFE, why not? Our ability to deliver advanced technological options is very much there. I think we need to look at whether it makes sense and then at what point of time it would make sense," said Petkar.
Aimed at cutting carbon emissions from carmakers, CAFE norms don't take into account the individual fuel economy of each model, but the average of a carmaker's entire fleet. The first phase of CAFE norms necessitated cars to be 10 percent more efficient, while the second phase - due in 2022 - will require them to be 30 percent more efficient. Under these norms, a car's fuel economy will be rated on the basis of how much fuel it consumes to run 100 kilometres. And with the norms set to tighten by 2022, more carmakers could turn to hybrid technology to meet them.
In addition, Petkar confirmed that the H5X will be built at Tata's plant in Chakan, Pune, and also shed some light on what the powertrain strategy for the H5X will be. He hinted at the fact that there could also be a petrol engine option on offer.
"What is going to dictate the powertrain strategy in the time to come is how we would like the consumer to perceive our car. The H5X, being an SUV, sporty, stylish kind of vehicle, we're going to offer the performance, which matches or exceeds that of the vehicles in that class. If you look at the trends, the kind of reduction that is happening in the price between diesel and petrol, the natural tendency is to go towards petrol. Therefore, there is a play not just for diesel, but also for petrol engines."
Interestingly, the Optimal Modular Efficient Global Advanced (OMEGA) platform on which the production H5X will be built can also be modified for electric vehicle applications. Tata is also working on advanced battery tech for future EVs so theoretically an electric H5X could also be a possibility.
The production-spec H5X is expected to launch in the first half of 2019, with its design staying largely true to the concept. Lower-spec variants of the production-spec H5X will come with Hyundai Creta-rivalling pricing, while the higher-spec trims are expected to undercut the Jeep Compass. The SUV will be offered with five-seat and seven-seat configurations.
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