Tata Nexon EV Launches In India, Starting <$20,000 — Will It Come To Europe?

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Tata Motors has just launched the home-grown Nexon EV in India for just under $20,000 (₹1,399,000) with real-world range of around 120 miles (193 km), 1-hour DC charging, 8-year battery and powertrain warranty, and 5-star global NCAP safety rating. Alongside the recent launch of the MG ZS EV and the Hyundai Kona EV in India, 2020 looks set to be a breakout year for EV sales.

Tata Nexon EV

The Nexon EV illustrates the impressive vertical integration of Tata Group. The battery cells are made by Tata Chemicals, and the battery pack assembly (30.2 kWh, liquid cooled) and motor assembly is performed by Tata Autocomp. Included in the vehicle purchase price, Tata Power will install a bundled home or workplace AC charger.

This level of vertical integration helps Tata to achieve the very competitive pricing of sub-$20,000. Potential EV peers also available in the India market are the MG ZS EV which starts from ₹2,088,000 ($29,300), and the Hyundai Kona EV from ₹2,371,858 ($33,300). All three of these compact SUVs offer fairly comparable performance of 0–100 km/h in 8 or 9 seconds, though the Nexon (4 meters long) is slightly shorter than the ZS (4.3 meters), with the Kona splitting the difference. Prospective owners may be persuaded that different refinement levels between the 3 brands justify the different price points, though the Nexon certainly appears comfortable and decently appointed at its price point.

The Nexon comes with an app to remotely control various functions, including cabin preconditioning, and includes Android Auto and Apple Carplay as standard. Here’s a great review by AutoCar India:

Sufficient Range for Indian Owners

EV range ratings in India are calibrated on the wildly optimistic ARAI-certification, which is even more generous than the now-defunct NEDC cycle. So, whilst the marketed ARAI range of the Nexon is 312 km (194 miles), translating that into EPA-like “real-world” figures, the range is more realistically around 120 miles (193 km).

Tata Nexon EV interior

At 150 real world miles, the MG ZS does offer around 25% more than the Nexon, and the Hyundai Kona EV (only selling the 39 kWh version in India), more again, with around 168 miles. However, distances traveled are relatively low in India with a typical privately owned passenger vehicle traveling around 9,000 km (5,600 miles) per year, with typical daily commutes totaling under 40 km (25 miles). Long road trips are not part of the culture, so there’s very little practical added utility in the MG’s 150 miles or the Kona’s 168 miles, over the Tata’s 120 miles — all are more than adequate for a large portion of prospective EV owners.

Likewise with DC charging. The MG ZS can in theory charge at up to 85 kW, substantially higher than the Tata. But, again, long trips that require a fast-charging stop at a mid-point are simply not on the agenda for most buyers in India. Furthermore, with just around 1,500 private passenger EVs sold in the 8 months to December 2019, fast DC infrastructure is still barely existent in the country. This will change in the coming years.

The MG ZS EV, which launched in India last week, received over 2,800 pre-launch bookings and now plans to increase production in order to deliver 500 units per month from March 2020. Tata has not yet released any order figures for the Nexon, but with the lower price and with local manufacturing, it seems set to do at least as well as the MG this year. Adding the Kona and other EVs coming down the pipeline, we should comfortably see total EV sales exceeding 10,000 this year in India.

Tata Nexon EV

Desirable for European Owners?

The Honda e and Mini Electric are coming to Europe this year with similar real-world range to the Tata Nexon (110~120 miles). To the extent that there’s sufficient demand for modest-range EVs at €25,000–30,000 price points, it’s not difficult to imagine there should be a decent level of demand for a modest-range compact SUV EV for around €20,000. The MG ZS EV is already doing well in Europe at a higher price point, albeit with its slightly longer range.

Tata Motors owns the Jaguar Land Rover brands and channels, so could likely find a way to distribute a European version of the Nexon, perhaps mildly tweaked for the European market. Having the inherent refinement of an EV, with an 8-year battery and powertrain warranty, and having achieved reasonable safety certification, Tata is already demonstrating the most fundamental parameters of quality. All at a price point that could potentially be much more competitive than most other EVs available in Europe. What say you, Tata — will you bring the Nexon to Europe?

Article images courtesy of Tata Motors.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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