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Electrovaya, Tata Motors to make electric Indica

October 14, 2008 - by Massie Santos Ballon, Cleantech Group

Toronto-based Electrovaya (TSX: EFL) and Mumbai, India's Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM) have partnered to produce the electric version of Tata’s Indica hatchback.

The Indica EV is scheduled to be launched in Norway in 2009 and India in 2010. The companies have not disclosed a price.

Designed to be driven on the highway, the car is described as a four-seater, with “adequate” room for luggage and the ability to go from 0 to 60 kilometers per hour (0 to 37 miles per hour) in less than 10 seconds. Electrovaya’s batteries are expected to go 120 miles on a single charge.

The Indica EV car will be manufactured in Norway by Miljø Innovasjon, using Tata’s design and Electrovaya’s lithium-ion batteries.

Tata Motors said today its U.K. subsidiary, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, acquired just over half of the equity in Miljø, a company that develops technology for electric vehicles, for NOK 12 million ($1.9 million USD).

Sankar Das Gupta, chairman of Electrovaya, told the Cleantech Group that the Indica EV will be marketed as a direct competitor to cars with internal-combustion engines.

Tata unveiled a prototype of the Indica hatchback at the SIAM exhibition in India last month. At the time, Tata did not disclose the name of their battery supplier or the location of manufacturing (see India's Tata Motors reveals electric car prototype).

Das Gupta said that the high demand for electric vehicles in Europe prompted the decision to manufacture the Indica EV in Norway. He also cited Miljø’s expertise in electric-vehicle technology.

Miljø Innovasjon is a subsidiary of Miljøbil Grenland, which was founded a decade ago as an electric vehicle fleet operator. Last month, Miljø signed a letter of agreement with Irvine, Calif.-based Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies (NASDAQ: QTWW) to develop and produce electric vehicles for the European and Chinese automotive markets. Quantum itself has been working with Fisker Automotive to produce electric vehicles (see Attack of the plug-in hybrids!).

Earlier this month, Miljø paid Electrovaya $1.3 million as a partial fee for licensing the battery technology. As part of the agreement, Electrovaya is expected to receive equity in Miljø, as well as a royalty fee based on the value of its batteries.

In January, Electrovaya launched the Maya-300, a low-speed electric car for city driving (see Electrovaya to build low-speed electric car). Das Gupta said the car would also use a lithium-ion battery that can travel 120 miles on a single charge. The Maya-300 was originally expected to be released before the end of 2008, but Das Gupta said the roll-out date had been moved to next year.

Across the globe, automakers including General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota are racing to be first to market with electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries (see Hyundai plans to sell hybrid in U.S. in 2010).

Tata is also exploring other technology, such as the compressed-air powered OneCAT for India’s market (see India's Tata funds air-power car).

The news about the Indica comes as Tata faces troubles at home with its Nano car, which is expecetd to sell for about one lakh ($2,500).

Earlier this month, Tata Motors announced the main Nano production facility would be moved from the Indian state of West Bengal to Gujarat. The company said its decision stemmed from construction disruptions caused by increasingly violent protests from local farmers (see Tata Motors moves Indian Nano plant).

Tata Motors now seems to be facing similar problems in Gujarat. Farmers claim they were unfairly compensated for the 1,100 acres of land the state government gave Tata Motors for the Nano facility. The state argues that the land in question belongs to the government.

The foundation stone for the Tata Nano’s Rs. 20 billion ($416 million USD) production facility in Gujarat is scheduled to be laid on Nov. 3.

Tata Motors is part of the Tata Group and one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles.

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Miljo/Tata battery accords

I'm unclear on one point.
Will Miljo still work with Quantum, or only with Electrovaya?
Still working with both?

Miljo working with Quantum and Electrovaya

MB: Miljo is working with both companies.

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