Tata Motors’ long-range version of its successful electric crossover, Nexon EV comes with a host of engineering innovations that aim to elevate the driving experience of this EV, christened the Nexon EV Max and transform it into an exciting new package.
For starters, it now gets four levels of regenerative-braking adjustment, empowering the driver to reach the most convenient stage of single-pedal driving in the highest Level-3 mode. There are toggle switches on the central console to increase or decrease the level of regeneration on the fly.
The company has also paid special attention to safety during regeneration and has offered an auto-brake lamp activation function in the Max, despite there being no regulatory requirement for it in India yet. The function makes the brake lights glow to warn traffic that the vehicle is slowing down, and this kicks in as the regenerative braking crosses a particular threshold.
Explaining the introduction of this feature, Anand Kulkarni, VP, Product Line & Operations, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility said, “There are guidelines in certain markets that advise auto brake-lamp activation on regeneration. While we debated this internally, the feedback from the existing Nexon EV customers made us go ahead with this safety feature.”
While EVs typically suffer from brake-pedal pressure modulation challenge due to the combination of regenerative as well as normal braking, the Nexon EV Max features a unique intelligent vacuum-less brake-active control or iVBAC device that blends regenerative and normal braking to achieve optimal pedal feel. The hydraulic system eliminates the need of a vacuum pump used to drive the brake booster in a conventional car, and tries to maximise the braking efficiency during both regeneration as well as normal braking scenarios.
“Even the best of the drivers cannot modulate the brake pedal to retrieve maximum energy from braking. Therefore, the iVBAC system also offers indirect environmental benefits as it is able to tap the maximum energy from deceleration, which would otherwise be wasted as heat,” Kulkarni explained.
Tata Motors has also offered a cost-effective tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) in the Nexon EV Max without using any pressure sensors in the wheel rim. Instead, the company has calibrated the ESC system to monitor the tyre’s rotational diameter, and prompt an alert on the infotainment system about a potential low pressure in the respective tyre, if there’s a variance from the defined standards.
The bigger changes
As the name suggests, the Max claims a 40 percent higher range of 437km on a single charge, as certified by ARAI, under test conditions. The Nexon EV, on the other hand, which continues to sell alongside this long-range model, claims 312km from its 33 percent smaller 30.2kWh Li-ion battery pack, compared to the 40.5kWh unit on the Max.
Tata Motors redesigned the battery pack and made it bigger by increasing its height, to incorporate a greater number of cells. While this has not compromised on the car’s boot capacity, there is a perceptible increase in the cabin floor height, leaving room for better under thigh support for the rear-seat occupants. The ground clearance too has been reduced by 15mm to 190mm, compared to the Nexon EV.
Despite the larger battery pack, the weight is only up by 25 percent in the Nexon EV Max, owing to better packaging efficiency of the cylindrical battery cells. The shape of the battery pack has been optimised to accommodate more cells, while still retaining the 50:50 weight balance between the front and rear halves of the car. This has enabled Tata to continue offering robust driving dynamics in the Max, despite its tall stance.
From the outside, the Max gets subtle aesthetic touches that distinguish it from the regular Nexon EV. For one, there is the unique Intense Teal exterior paint shade – which is a darker version of the Signature Teal Blue – available on the Nexon EV. The Max also gets differently-styled 16-inch machined alloys that house the low-rolling resistance tyres, as well as all-four-disc brakes.
The bulk of changes lie on the inside where the cabin has received a dual-tone black-and-beige colour scheme update, along with other feature additions such as ventilated front seats, an air purifier, an electronic parking brake, wireless phone charger as well as cruise control. The Max’s cabin looks inviting with bright colours and good quality materials all around. The seats are comfortable too, and the ventilated function will be a boon for India’s muggy weather.
Go to match the show
In terms of overall weight, the Nexon EV Max has gained 100kg over the Nexon EV, with the contribution from the lithium-ion battery pack being about 70kg. To ensure weight savings, the Max features a three-in-one embedded-electronics box that combines the on-board charger, DC-DC converter as well as the power delivery unit (PDU).
It also features a more powerful 143hp electric motor driving its front wheels and transmitting 250Nm of peak torque at the press of the throttle.
The response from the permanent magnet synchronous motor is immediate, and the Nexon EV Max shoots forward with great aggression, particularly in the Sport driving mode. The company claims a 0-100kph time of less than 9 seconds, as well as a limited top speed of 140kph. Toggling between the City and Eco driving modes do offer a perceptible difference in the driving dynamics as well as the way the power is delivered to the front wheels.
While an aggressive driving style will significantly hamper the car’s range, the Nexon EV Max also comes with an optional 7.2kW AC fast charger to reduce the recharge time from to 6 hours, compared to the 14 hours from the 3.3kW standard unit bundled with the car.
With an anticipated real-world driving range of anywhere between 250 and 300km, the Nexon EV Max aims to offer a no-compromise EV ownership experience, alleviating range anxiety for most driving scenarios and striking the right chord with customers by offering the convenience of single-pedal driving, that only an EV can offer.
The prices of the Nexon EV Max range from Rs 17.74 lakh to Rs 19.24 lakh ex-showroom, which is a premium of Rs 200,000 over the regular Nexon EV. While it perhaps justifies the price for the creature comforts and flexibility it brings to the table, the long list of innovations in the Max only raises the bar from Tata Motors which is keen to launch new offerings based on its Curvv and Avinya concepts that was displayed recently.
In Conversation with Tata Motors' Anand Kulkarni