Some people close to a new project going on in the Tata Motors R&D have revealed that the company is working on a family of low cost composite cars which will be complementing their small ultra-low cost car, the Tata Nano. These cars are expected to be built on a new kind of material called poly-diallyl-phthalate (PDP), which is used for industrial applications. If we look at composite vehicles globally, they are made out of carbon fiber. But the challenge with the carbon fiber material is that the material and its processing drive the cost very high. PDP on the other hand, is cheaper than conventional steel and aluminum used to manufacture the body of the car.
It is easier to manufacture too and makes the car light weight, stronger, safer and simpler to make. For example, a conventional body car has close to 500 pieces whereas the composite car will have just 25 molds! However, with PDP being cheaper than aluminum and steel, the upcoming composite family of cars will be priced higher up than the Nano. People close to the team have also revealed that there is a difference of opinion regarding the suitable launch date of the car. some are of the opinion that the composite car would be a good foil to the Nano, others think that the car business should be stabilized before launching a new vehicle based on ‘non-conventional’ technology and design.
The design, architecture and construction of the composite car is the creation of the Italian designer, Marcello Gandini. He is well known for his efforts on using composites in high end cars like the Lamborghini Miura and the Countach. Tata Motors has bought the technology and design from the Italian designer and has developed a prototype of the model too. The prototype model went through a successful crash test at the Crash Lab in Tata Motor’s Pune facility. Other than this, majority of the project work has been carried out in Italy.