Significant design changes coming to Tata electric cars, says Pratap Bose

Pratap Bose, Vice President – Global Design, Tata Motors, says that the timeline for a completely redesigned Tata electric vehicle will be decided by the level of demand for electric cars, but until that tipping point, he will seek every opportunity to differentiate the two products (ICE and Electric) inside and outside. Bose was speaking to EVW on the sidelines of the Auto Expo 2020 where he said efforts to further distinguish Tata’s zero emission vehicles will be reflected in the next offering from the company – the Altroz EV.

Just a few years ago, vehicles had just body-coloured bumpers and wheel caps to differentiate between the base and higher variants. Now the design changes in the variant walk are more significant. Going forward, how are you going to differentiate between electric vehicles and ICE vehicles?

Pratap: It will be more significant. If you take Altroz EV for example, the flow of the centre console is totally different from the ICE version. There is no tunnel as the floor is completely flat and gives you a walk through feeling. For an architecture that is not a born-EV but an electrified one, we have been able to do that console. So the changes go deeper than you think.

Tata Altroz interior electric parking brake
The centre stack of the Tata Altroz EV is different featuring a flat floor. The drive selector and the parking brake (electric) have been shifted to a purpose-built armrest.

We have seen Mercedes-Benz come up with the EQ brand. They have been successful in differentiating the ICE cars from the electric ones, with even changes to the body panels while still retaining common components. Can we see a similar strategy from Tata Motors?

Pratap: I think that would be a good step. Of course, the business case has to justify. You know when the numbers of EVs change and become more significant to justify the investment, I think it’s absolutely right in doing that.

EVW’s take on a ‘dedicated’ Tata electric car

There is media speculation that Tata Motors is developing a pure-EV platform (akin to Volkswagen’s MEB Matrix). If this information is right, it would be a turning point for the Electric Mobility division as it allows easy integration of electrical components and individual battery systems, high space efficiency, unlocking of new features such as swappable battery tech and a large model variety. The platform is expected to launch not before mid-decade which is when we expect a dedicated electric car design.