Tata Motors is poised to pull the plug on plans to introduce an electric vehicle in the UK in a move that could put the electric car dream on hold for the foreseeable future.
Although the company has not yet made an announcement it is expected to confirm the Tata Indica Vista EV will not now be rolled out due to the slow take up of electric vehicles in the UK.
Just 940 electric cars were sold in Britain last year, a figure that fell short of what had been hoped for and expected by manufacturers and the Government.
It is also believed Tata had concerns over the lack of charging points and the resultant “range anxiety” among prospective buyers about being able to charge them away from home.
Tata’s EV, based on the company’s Indica Vista hatchback, was a production-ready vehicle with 25 cars developed at the Tata Motors European Technical Centre at the International Automotive Research Centre at Warwick University.
All 25 had been used as part of the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrator (CABLED) electric vehicle trial project.
The Indica Vista EV was due to be made in the UK and launched this summer but bosses at Tata are understood to have decided the electric vehicle market had not reached the point where it would be viable to launch a new model.
A Tata Motors’ spokesman said the company was “actively developing a broad range of low carbon vehicle technologies” and speaking about the development of the Indica Vista EV added: “We are in the process of incorporating the learning from the development phase and the CABLED trial.
“In any case, we expect slower than anticipated market growth of battery electric vehicles in the period up to 2014.”
Tata is unlikely to be the only manufacturer with concerns about the market, with sales remaining slow despite a government grant towards the cost, up to a maximum of £5,000.
Firms such as Nissan and Renault have invested heavily with the Nissan Leaf, which has a list price of £30,990 and the more affordable Renault Fluence and Twizzy models, with more set to follow.
Other manufacturers in the mix include Chevrolet, Citroen, Peugeot, Vauxhall, smart, Chevrolet and Mitsubishi.
Despite Tata’s decision the firm is expected to continue developing electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains for use in future models. At the recent Geneva Motor Show it exhibited its Megapixel EV concept vehicle, which followed on from the Pixel EV concept.
The work carried out on the Indica Vista will have contributed to the development of the firm’s EV technology though it will almost certainly delay any launch until the market picks up and infrastructure is better developed.
Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, warned electric cars were unlikely to prove the panacea some people predicted.