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 go to this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncZVRulhqpg. Then 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.
Photo credit: Bloomberg
Torotrak's biggest shareholder is U.S.-based Allison Transmission Inc., which has a 9 percent stake.