Cars and Concepts

Can Tata outsmart the Smart?

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.

One reason the Smart ForTwo is so appealing to city dwellers is that making a U-turn is a breeze, which is great when competing for a parking space. But the Tata Pixel concept takes changing direction to a whole new level.

The Pixel, which debuted at the Geneva auto show this month, has a so-called "infinitely variable transmission" with spin-on-the-spot functionality.

When parking and during making tight maneuvers, the transmission can control each rear wheel independently to enable rotation of these wheels in opposing directions.

The result is a turning radius of just 2.6 meters.

Seeing is believing, so take a look at the video below. Forward to about 1:30.

The Pixel's prototype transmission comes from UK-based supplier Torotrak plc, which has its technology on everything from lawn mowers to commercial vehicles.

Torotrak's biggest shareholder is U.S.-based Allison Transmission Inc., which has a 9 percent stake.