Prior to January 2020, electric cars in India were either too expensive (Hyundai Kona and MG ZS; over Rs 20 lakh) or had too little driving range (Mahindra e2o Plus; 110-140km). Tata’s Nexon EV changed that—it’s affordable (starts at Rs 13.99 lakh) and with a claimed range of 312 km it often doesn’t give you range anxiety (worry that the battery will run out of power). With the Nexon EV, Tata Motors had found a sweet spot in electric mobility. The Tigor EV is even more affordable (start at Rs 11.99 lakh), but has a smaller-capacity battery and slightly lesser driving range (306 km).
What is the Tigor EV?
Unlike a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf, which are born-electric cars, the Tigor EV is turned-electric, i.e. the petrol Tigor’s engine has been replaced with an electric motor and a battery pack, and the associated mechanical changes.
How big is the battery pack?
It has a 26 kWh lithium-ion battery (the Kona has 39.2 kWh battery, the ZS has 44.5 kWh and the Nexon EV has 30.2 kWh). Electricity and water is a dangerous combination, but Tata claims the Tigor EV’s battery is IP67-certified (it can withstand being submerged in water up to a meter deep, or 3.3 feet, for half an hour).
Is the 306 km range enough?
First of all, this 306 km is ‘under standard testing conditions’. When I got the media car to drive, the battery was at 100% and the range being shown on the trip meter was 255 km. Let’s take this 255 km as the upper benchmark, and apply the following calculation:
Very few personal car users drive more than 50 km per day, within city limits. There’s mathematics to support the case. Suppose you live in Gurgaon and work in Delhi, the return journey won’t be more than 50 km. On paper, this takes care of five days of office commute. But then people drive elsewhere also, and that’s where the charging support comes in—Tata Motors provides free home charging installation when you buy the car, and in most major cities the company is ramping up its public charging network. Home charging can be conveniently done at night.
How does it drive?
While it’s natural to compare the Tigor EV with the petrol version, both are generations apart. One, the Tigor EV produces a whining sound. Two, there are zero vibrations inside the cabin. Three, it is quicker—in the Sport mode, it accelerates from 0-60 km/h in just 5.7 seconds. Also, while the petrol is available in both manual gearbox and AMT, the EV doesn’t need the conventional gearbox—it has a switch that mimics the settings of a fully automatic (and far expensive than AMT) gearbox.
Is it a connected car?
Most EVs have to be connected, so that the car is able to locate a charging station on its own, among other things. The Tata technology that makes it so is called the ZConnect, which monitors battery charge levels, available range, charging history, nearest charging stations, etc.
EV vis-à-vis petrol
Ex-showroom prices of the Tigor EV start at Rs 11.99 lakh, and when you compare it to even the top variant of the Tigor petrol (Rs 7.82 lakh), the difference is a substantial Rs 4.17 lakh. That appears too steep to attract the petrol buyer to electric, in this entry-level segment. There are, however, intangible cost savings. The running cost of the Tigor EV is about Rs 1 per km (for the petrol it is Rs 5-6 per km), and an EV will have lower maintenance cost (50% lower owing to lesser moving parts, minimal lubrication and the eight-year battery warranty).
Therefore, the more you drive, the lower will be running costs—according to Tata’s own calculations on the Tigor EV website, one will have to drive 44 km per day for five years to recover that extra money you have paid (this doesn’t account for interest costs, but let’s say these will be balanced by lower maintenance costs). Overall, the Tigor EV definitely strengthens the case for electric cars in India, but just about.