DETROIT (Jan. 19, 11:50 a.m. ET) — When Tata Technologies' engineers and designers sat down to come up with a concept for an electric-powered car, they wanted to start with a clean sheet of paper.
No preconceived notions of what a car needed to be, said Peter Davis, chief designer vehicle design for Tata Technologies' Novi, Mich., offices. That was not always as easy as it sounded, though.
On a panoramic windshield and roof — swooping over the front of the car from front to back, with no roof pillar above the instrument panel — where would they put the sun visors?
“Where do we put the windshield wipers when they're not in use, if we don't have a hood?” Davis noted during a Jan. 9 interview alongside the Electric Mobility, or eMO, concept car displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “There's a domino effect of what happens if we do something this way or that way.”
For the windshield wipers, the team placed them vertically, alongside the side pillars. Sun visors are likewise stored vertically, tucked in alongside the rear view mirror at the center of the car.
Tata Technologies, which has the same parent company as India's Tata Motors Ltd., but is not part of the carmaker, developed 15 new patents for parts created for the eMO, even though the car is just an engineering study.
“It's a shingle for us to say to the industry that this is what can do,” Davis said.
The eMO is intended to be a small, light electric vehicle that will also be less expensive to manufacture. Thermoplastic body panels would be left unpainted, which would eliminate the need for an in-house paint shop. The polycarbonate rear window integrates LED lighting, reducing the number of manufacturing steps.
Without the need to cool an engine in the front of the car, air ducts are tucked beneath the flooring, where they would cool a center-mounted battery pack.
“An [automaker] would have a shelf full of platforms and parts that he would need to work with to build a car on its line,” Davis said. “We don't.”