Watch out, Tesla: The world's second-favorite darling for mega-efficient, production-ready cars on the fringe of the industry's top tier is ready to steal your $10 million—and do it on the cheap.
After earlier this year with the unveiling of the world's cheapest ride, Tata Motors has declared its intent to enter the Automotive X Prize's race for the 100-mpg car of tomorrow, the X Prize Foundation . With two all-new builds in the making, the Indian-British powerhouse of mini-vehicles for the masses (which also just happened to ) becomes the most established manufacturer to join the AXP's already promising early field.
On the heels of its breakthrough $2,500, 78-mpg Nano, Ratan Tata's growing company plans to enter an all-electric microcar into the competition's alternative class and a dominant electric hybrid into the four-door, 200-mi.-range mainstream part of the X Prize field. While Tata will certainly implement some of the safety and emissions upgrades it has already faced in developing the Nano, principal engineer Jonathan Etherington will be tasked with taking its lineup green. They've got a head start in the burgeoning micro class, but the first mainstream hybrid for any company can be a years-long technical challenge, and turning any version of its 33-mpg Indica sedan into a bottom-up build that follows the AXP's strict crash regulations and swift timetable (stage races begin next September in New York) will put even more pressure on Tata.
But with all the upstars and shot-in-the-dark concepts from the now 70-plus teams that have signed up—including recent entry Neil Young, who's ready to rock —it might be the rest of the contestants now feeling the heat. —Matt Sullivan