Tata Nexon EV Max
It’s no revelation that the Tata Nexon EV is one of the brand’s most successful offerings in recent years. Not only is it the best selling EV in the country, but Nexon’s electrified alternative has also allowed Tata Motors to pip Hyundai in the bestselling SUV category, previously dominated by the Creta. While Tata Motors has teased us with two concepts featuring their Gen 2 and Gen 3 EV architecture, respectively, with the latter being the brand’s first born-EV platform, the brand has decided to tackle surging present-day demand with a long-range version of the popular Nexon.
It’s called the Tata Nexon EV Max and while it retains the Nexon’s overall dimensions, it expands its range by a good 33% (in the real world) by having a proportionately larger battery pack of 40.5 kWh. This allows the Nexon EV Max to have an ARAI tested range of 437 km. The Nexon’s price range starts at Rs 17.74 lakh and for that, you get a greater range, more torque and power (250 Nm and 140hp, respectively) and a lot of additional features that come as standard. These include a standard 105kw permanent synchronous motor, Auto Hold, ESP, and ISO-Fix anchorages among other features. The Nexon also gets multi-regen modes as standard which allows you to control the level of regenerative braking applied in order to brake and recover energy faster.
In a Q&A round with the media, Anand Kulkarni, Vice President of Passenger Electric Vehicle Division at Tata Motors and Vivek Srivtasa, Head of Marketing, Sales and Strategy at Tata Motors cleared up all manner of queries regarding the EV of the hour.
Is the Nexon EV Max here to replace the Nexon EV?
No. “The Nexon EV Max is an extension of the current EV”, says Anand Kulkarni. The Nexon EV, which currently avails both state and national subsidies on EVs due to its price point, has been positioned as an intra-city vehicle by the brand while the EV Max which isn’t eligible for subsidies has been designed keeping in mind long-distance, inter-city EV journeys.
In a way the Nexon EV Max is here to tap into the market the MG ZS EV currently operates in (although the ZS is a good deal more expensive). The EV Max claims a 0-100kph time of 9 seconds promising greater performance and lesser range anxiety. If the standard EV is aimed at the price conscious, the EV Max is for the range conscious with both expected to co-exist and thrive in their respective domains.
How is the battery pack different from the standard Nexon?
According to Anand Kulkarni, the battery pack and a few elements of Nexon’s powertrain agnostic architecture have been modified to accommodate the extra kilowattage of the battery. The cell chemistry remains unchanged from the Nexon being sold in the market. The range is also expanded via various energy recovery and energy preservation methods on the new Nexon EV Max.
Energy loss has been minimised through weight optimisation and low rolling resistance on the tyres. So, the increase in the weight of the battery isn’t commensurate with the increase in battery size. Kulkarni also claims that the brand has looked at energy density to increase the range without adding considerably to the battery size (although the bigger battery does add 70% weight to the Nexon EV Max’s overall additional weight of 100kg). Ground clearance is also lower by 10mm.
Is efficiency increased via the battery alone?
Another first for the brand is the use of an i-VBAC system (another standard), essentially an intelligent vacuum-less active boost device. “It enables us to maximise the regeneration by blending service brakes and regenerative brakes to the best extent, which allows us to gain over 3% in terms of efficiency,” says Kulkarni. Tata has also deployed Gen 3 architecture’s bearing on the car to reduce rolling loss and bearing related friction. “Regenerative recovery is of the top priority” he adds.
Will the Nexon EV Max also be eligible for a subscription plan, like the standard car?
Given that government subsidies have a price cap of Rs 15 lakh at present, with no inflation-adjusted revision in sight. While Tata Motors does not plan to offer any elaborate financial scheme for the additional cost, the brand says that it is considering a longer EMI plan to assist customers with the purchase, according to Vivek Srivatsa.
Is the global semiconductor shortage likely to affect the rollout of the EV Max? Can a few advertised features be compromised in favour of a quicker rollout?
“There is no doubt that the semiconductor crisis is playing a role. But it is worth noting that, in the last 1 year or so we’ve increased our production. Last year at this point we were around 500-600 units a month, in March of this year, we did about 3500 and in the first quarter about 9,000 units.” says Vivek Srivatsa.
We are looking at finding alternatives by finding different chipsets to deliver the same functionality. We know how discerning the customer can be so we don’t plan on compromising on the features. We are in a position to manufacture more EVs and the Nexon is being manufactured in two locations: Pune and Ranjangao. (Questions regarding waiting periods and production capacities remained unanswered).
Any mechanical tweaks?
The suspension spring rates have gone up to support the additional weight. Suspension damping has also been changed, along with tyre pressure and bush spring stiffness to make sure the car’s driving dynamics and ride quality do not suffer.
Is the battery pack larger or denser? How is battery space managed?
The battery pack is definitely larger. We’ve used a few measures to ensure that the ground clearance isn’t compromised much. As well as on the interior space, modifications have been made to the floor of the car so the car (an SUV) can still take on varying terrains. So, the battery has expanded sideways, and some structural elements have been removed so additional cells can be accommodated. (What segments have been removed remains unclear). Packaging efficiency has gone up 6-8%. But the car still retains a full-size spare wheel and 350 litres of boot space.
What is the real world range likely to be?
The real world battery range has gone up over 35%, says Kulkarni. Given that the real world range of the standard Nexon is 250km, expect the EV Max to provide approximately 333 km of real-world range.
What is the fast charger rollout plan for this year?
“Fast charging is a multi-party topic,” says Vivek Srivatsa and while we are enablers, we are working with Tata Power to map out key routes, highways with high-density traffic and hot spots in cities to serve as fast charging spots.
Is there a limit to the number of fast charging sessions?
With a 50kW charger, it is possible to charge the car from 0-80% in under an hour. 56 minutes to be specific. “There’s no cap under the number of fast charging sessions that the battery can accept although periodic slow charges are advised so that it maintains an effective balance of cells” cautions Kulkarni.
Is Tata Motors officially drivetrain agnostic? Will we see more ICE cars enter the EV fold?
“From a decarbonisation perspective, we’ve made a very conscious choice when it comes to electrification. Eight percent of our volumes come from EVs. We’ve already announced plans for bringing a greater number of models into the EV space” says Kulkarni.
How do the regen modes work on the EV Max?
“The Nexon EV today has only a single regeneration mode,” says Kulkarni. “We’ve set it up based on our understanding of the driving patterns and what the customers would be best able to utilise and adapt to”. “The Max allows you to have 4 modes, starting with 0, which allows you to coast on highways without regenerative braking slowing the vehicle down. Then we have three additional varying levels of regeneration, depending upon the comfort of the driver who can tune the vehicle to their preference”.
Is there a price increase on the cards for the Nexon and Tigor EV given the increase in lithium-ion prices?
According to Vivek Srivatsa, “There is heavy cost fluctuation not only because of battery costs but other components as well. We were forced to increase the prices of both cars. Going forward, we will continue to monitor the prices and react accordingly.”
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