Two Indian car manufacturing companies are adopting measures and technologies that will lead to cleaner air on Indian roads vis-à-vis car usage. Maruti Suzuki India has launched its first Automatic Variant in the A2 segment with A-Star Automatic. A-Star is Suzuki’s most fuel efficient car. Likewise, Tata Indigo e-CS, the recent launch of Tata Motors, is one of the most fuel efficient sedans in the country. With its 1.4 litre CR4 Common Rail diesel engine, the e-CS gives an ARAI approved mileage of 23.03kmpl. Suzuki and Tata have been heavily into fuel efficiency since a few years. Add to it BMW X5, the car introduced by the BMW Group in September this year, that transforms kinetic energy into electrical energy which leads to reduced energy consumption and the scene looks promising.
Maruti Suzuki’s Technology
A-Star is Maruti’s fifth World Strategic Model. As traffic congestion has increasingly been leading to driver fatigue on Indian roads, the company expects the demand for automatic cars that give a clutch-free experience, to rise. With this, now Maruti has extended the fuel efficiency advantage (17km/pl) of A-star to its automatic version and has introduced the advanced A-shift technology. With its 4-speed automatic transmission, the drivers will be able to move smoothly through traffic – without gear shifts, because a slick shift enables ‘easy down-shift’ and ‘effortless up-shift’. The instrument cluster incorporates an electronic display to highlight the engaged gear. A cluster of computer controlled sensors constantly manages the throttle input and optimises the engine response accordingly, thus requiring no changing of gears. The overdrive mode in the automatic transmission provides additional power on the tap whenever needed. The company claims that its ultra advanced safety system makes the driver virtually risk free as the car has been given a TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) design structure keeping the safety of passengers in mind.
A-star, powered by the new, state-of-the-art, light weight, 998cc K10 petrol engine, is a green car and meets the European ELV norms – 85% of the car is recyclable. Also, hazardous materials like lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium are not used in the manufacturing process.
Maruti has also launched another fuel efficient car this year to commemorate the first anniversary of its Ritz model. Called Ritz Genus, it retains the best features of brand Ritz. Ritz is claimed to be the first passenger car in India which has been tested and verified, just like in Europe, for EMC (Electro Magnetic Compatibility) compliance – used to ensure the recyclability of the materials. It is also ELV compliant. Design modifications have been made to make the car E10 compliant as well. This is done according to the Government of India’s intention of introducing ethanol blended fuel. Ritz, with 17.7kmpl in the petrol variant and 21.1kmpl in diesel, has become popular as a fuel efficient car and comes with drive-by-wire technology in both segments. It has a better ground clearance and is available with the 32-bit Engine Management System.
Tata Motors’ low RPMs
Likewise, Tata Indigo e-CS, the recent launch of Tata Motors, is claimed to be the most fuel efficient sedan in the country. With its 1.4 litre CR4 Common Rail diesel engine, the e-CS (BS IV Range) gives an ARAI approved mileage of 23.03 kmpl and is BS4 emission compliant. It has 16 valves and is DOHC. The engine for eGLS/eGLX is an MPFI Petrol engine with 32-bit microprocessor and is BS4 emission compliant. This car has an automatic gradient climb assist and in case of the eLX/eGLX version, gives audio warning for driver’s seat belt, if the key has remained in or out and if the door is left open.
Tata Motors also launched Indica Vista Divetech4 which ensures a higher torque at low RPMs and lower emissions. Its specially designed Eurotech gearbox is perfectly made to handle Vista Drivetech4 Quadrajet diesel as well as Safire petrol engines. The car’s highlights are minimal vibration, precise gear shifting, longer engine life and cooled exhaust gas recirculation for lower emissions.
Indica Vista EV, Hybrid low-floor Tata Starbus with electric traction, CNG powered 1613 truck and the Xenon CNG are the company’s other entries in the environment-friendly club of car manufacturers which are making roads safer with newer technologies.
In Indica Vista EV super polymer lithium ion batteries, which have superior energy density as against conventional batteries, are used. It has a predicted range of up to 200km and acceleration of 0-60kmph in under 10 seconds. For producing its electric vehicles, Tata Motors has formed an association with Miljo Grenland AS of Norway as its UK subsidiary. Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc has a 72% stake in Miljo. The vehicles are undergoing rigorous trials in Europe at present and will be launched in select European countries this year.
Starbus, the new hybrid vehicle from the stable of Tata Motors, has been possible because of the progress made by the company in alternate fuel technologies that reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of conventional fuels. Powered with a series hybrid engine that consists of an internal combustion CNG engine and three lithium ion batteries mounted on the roof, these vehicles are meant for intra-city transportation. All these efforts lead to a 25-30% improvement in fuel economy.
The CNG-powered 1613 truck of Tata Motors has a range of about 450km with one filling. Developed both for intra-city and inter-city operations, it offers excellent operating economy and is ideal for transportation of goods like LPG cylinders, dairy products, cement and fly ash both within and between cities.
The Xenon CNG, launched in Thailand, is again known for its alternate fuel technology. Configured as a mono-fuel factory-fitted CNG vehicle, it offers many advantages over an aftermarket CNG converted vehicle like optimal power and torque, better fuel mileage at 12km/kg, smoother ride and higher levels of safety.
EfficientDynamics of BMW X5
The BMW Group too launched its fuel efficient car BMW X5 in India in the second half of September this year. A big name in the manufacturing of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands, the highlight of the group’s latest version is the BMW EfficientDynamics. All versions of the new BMW X5 include brake energy regeneration. This means that in case of overrun (when the driver stops accelerating), the released kinetic energy is transformed by brake energy regeneration into electrical energy which is stored in the car and can be utilised to charge the battery ‘free of charge’. As a result, less power input will be needed by the battery when the vehicle is started again. That will, in effect, free up the engine and reduce energy consumption.
Dr Andreas Schaaf, President, BMW India says, “The new BMW X5 combines the joy of driving with elegance, efficiency, safety and unmatched performance.”
All versions of the new BMW X5 are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The standard equipment of the new BMW X5 also includes the speed-dependent Servotronic steering assistance system. The new BMW X5 is equipped as standard with the latest generation of the iDrive control system and offers unique driver assistance system for safety.
The group is committed to ecological and social sustainability, claims its top management. Last year the BMW Group was confirmed as the world’s most sustainable car manufacturer for the 5th time by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Its BMW Vision EfficientDynamics, introduced last year, was a sports car that runs on less fuel than a small car because of its “innovative ActiveHybrid technology.”