EVs have a long way to go in proving themselves in our country. The uphill challenges being range anxiety and the current public charging infrastructure scenario. Thankfully, the fact that some OEMs are taking the bold step earlier than others to lend the EV flavour to all of us can only be viewed as an opportunity to get a glimpse of how this mode of transportation stacks up today. For this write-up, we’ve tested the Tata Nexon EV extensively to answer a whole bunch of questions.
So yes, like most of us have read or maybe the handful of us who have experienced an EV, the first few minutes behind the wheel of the Nexon EV makes you appreciate the eerie silence that’s further amplified by the pristine sound insulation. Now it’s up to the music player and the air-con blower to give you a taste of reality!
Without further ado, here are the five things we loved about the Nexon EV, and two that need working on.
1. City range
Yes, we’ve comprehensively tested the city range of the Nexon EV and can easily confirm it being sufficient for most city driving requirements without inducing range anxiety. I’ll get straight to the point. The city range of this EV with two and five passengers on board is 197km and 179km, respectively. To make the driving situation as realistic as possible, our tests were conducted with the headlamps and air-con switched on, and a mobile phone always plugged in to charge.
Then, in our drain-test, we drove till this EV’s battery drained to two per cent. At which point we had driven 189km, 109km of which was traversed within the city and the rest on the highway. As the range dropped to 10 per cent, the system goes into a sort of limp mode where performance is not only limited to 55kmph, the air-con keeps getting cut-off intermittently.
2. Fast charging capability
Currently, the Nexon EV can be charged and serviced at select 95 Tata workshops spanning over 50+ cities. And it’s quick! From zero to 80 per cent in one hour, and then to 100 per cent takes an hour and 20 minutes. So, if you’re on a city errand, have some time to spare, and are running low on juice, just roll into the workshop for an hour’s charge. The fast charging facility is currently free of cost until the Government announces subsidy for the service. So, until that happens, the workshop officials will do the necessary to charge your Nexon EV at no cost.
After the subsidy is announced, owners can use the RFID card (like a credit card) that’s handed to them in order to fast-charge at the workshop. Just install the Tata Power EZ mobile app, load money into it (like you’d do in Paytm) using a listed payment gateway, and, you’re good to go. As the app transmits the data on to the RFID card, one just needs to swipe it on the fast-charging machine, plug the cable into the car, and the charging is initiated. It’s that simple.
Since we are on the topic of fast charging, in the interest to preserve battery life, Tata Motors suggests that not only should consecutive fast-charging instances be avoided, refraining from consistently charging to 100 per cent on every instance is recommended (charging to 80 per cent is preferred). Meanwhile, the car comes with a cable that can be plugged into a home three-point 15amp socket, like those used by microwave ovens, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Charging the Nexon EV via this socket takes around eight hours for a full charge.
3. Cost to run
Since we’ve already covered fast charging, let’s take a look at how much it costs to charge it at home. Now, a full charge (0-100 per cent) consumes approximately 30 units of electricity over eight hours. With domestic electricity retailing at about Rs 8 per unit (in Navi Mumbai), it works out to about Rs 240 for a full charge. This means one can drive close to 200km for Rs 240, or to be more specific, it works out to just Rs 1.2 per km.
Now, let’s compare this to its IC siblings. When this story went live, petrol and diesel cost around Rs 97 and Rs 87 per litre, respectively, in Navi Mumbai. Considering the petrol one returns an average fuel efficiency of about 13kmpl, it costs around Rs 1490 to do 200km or Rs 7.45 per km. In the same manner, if a diesel car returns an average fuel efficiency of 16kmpl, it would cost Rs 1082 to run 200km, which comes down to Rs 5.41 per km. Yes, it’s massively cost-effective to run the Nexon EV!
4. More than adequate performance
On the move, one appreciates the total absence of NVH in the Nexon EV. More so, every time one mashes the accelerator pedal. Undoubtedly, this is the future of motoring, or is this how motoring should have been in the first place? IC engines have always struggled with NVH, but a few minutes with an all-electric vehicle made me wonder if maybe the former shouldn’t have made it to the mass production!
That aside, getting off the mark and picking up speed is an extremely smooth and linear affair in D-mode. With the abundance of pulling power and the seamless manner in which the single-speed transmission lays down the power on the road, driving the Nexon EV is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This is the case whether you’re driving inside the city or out on the highway. Our testing equipment recorded this EV’s sprint from zero to 100kmph in 17.38 seconds, which seems slow but in real life, it’s certainly far from that. As for the drivability runs of 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph (test of overtaking capabilities), it took 8.33 and 11.28 seconds, respectively, in D-mode.
But S-mode turns this vehicle into a monster! Although you may not get thrown into the seat, thanks to the extremely well-judged power delivery, you instantly take in the dope-performance with a smile; 100kmph comes up in just 9.14 seconds! It doesn’t end here. Overtaking in this car is like leaving everyone behind at the traffic signal with a yawning gap; 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph are despatched in 5.11 seconds and 6.84 seconds! There aren’t any jerks, flat spots, or surprises anywhere in the power band all the way up to the limited top speed of 125kmph.
5. Popular compact SUV
We also have to add that Tata Motors has got it bang-on with the product they chose to lend the EV credentials with. With the demand for compact SUVs at an all-time high, Tata Motors did well to clone its Nexon. Not only is it a well-proven product that’s spacious and comfortable, it looks contemporary, drives reasonably well, is a safe vehicle, and is also feature-rich to say the least.
1. Long-distance range anxiety
While driving in the city can be planned and hence be devoid of range-stress, highway driving is far from being practical. Unless, of course, you are absolutely sure that your journey doesn’t cross the true range. To give you an idea, with two passengers on-board and slotted in D-mode, the Nexon EV offers a highway range of 233km.
Again, like earlier, the tests were performed with the headlamps and air-con switched on, along with a mobile phone always plugged in. We know that these ancillaries run off the smaller battery under the hood, but unlike a regular car where it is juiced via an alternator off the IC engine, this small battery sucks off the bigger battery pack. So now you know why we just had to check that! Going ahead, with five occupants in D-mode, the highway range stood at 225km; not a significant drop, I’d say. We didn’t perform any efficiency tests in S-mode as the substantial drop in the range made it highly impractical.
2. Slow 15amp socket charging
We understand that it is a rather large battery pack that’s feeding off a puny 15amp socket. But the current home charging duration should seem like a more attractive prospect, than the eight hours that it currently takes.
This is because it needs to be easier to juice up if we want people to be able to venture towards the limits of the range. So, of course, until the time commercial charging units spring up like we have fuel-pumps, this is where the company needs to focus its efforts.
It becomes obvious that with the current state of affairs (read commercial-charging), planning a long-distance journey in the Nexon EV can be a hassle. On the contrary, it’d make more sense as a second vehicle that’ll be used primarily within the city.
Convincing reasons to choose it over the regular Nexon are the eight-year warranty on the battery pack, easy-to-drive nature, cheap running costs (charging cost, no engine/gear oil etc), a starting price (Rs 15.11 lakh OTR Mumbai) that hovers around the top-end diesel Nexon, the fact that 1 lakh of the Nexon EV’s cost price will be returned to you by the Government in approximately six months (customer needs to apply for this subsidy), and the RTO costs just Rs 5,000!
If you’re sold on this, then what remains is to arrange a 15amp socket in the parking slot. Then again, living in the vicinity of Tata Motors workshop which houses a fast-charger will come in handy when you want to top-up your Nexon EV in a hurry.
Off-late, my wife has been pestering me to buy the Nexon EV. You see, I’m just waiting for my bank balance to get electrified first!
Pictures by Kapil Angane