Nano 1.0 Still MIA, But Tata's in Talks for a Micro-Hybrid

startstop-boschTata Motors wants to build a micro-hybrid version of the Tata Nano, the $2,500 “people’s car” unveiled last year and slated (for now) to enter production in 2009. While the Indian auto giant has encountered a series of delays for the Nano — most of them tied to disputes over land slated for factory construction — it has entered talks with German auto parts manufacturer Bosch to supply micro-hybrid, or start-stop, systems, India’s CNBC-TV18 reports.

Micro-hybrids are not true hybrid fuel systems, but Bosch says its technology can boost in-town fuel economy by up to 8 percent: Gasoline alone propels the vehicle, but the engine shuts down when it’s at rest. Electricity from the battery instantly restarts the engine when the driver hits the accelerator.

Two years ago, Bosch forecast that start-stop technology would appear in 1 out of every 5 cars by 2015. So far, BMW, Mini, Fiat, and Kia have come on board. While the system represents a relatively inexpensive add-on, it would add up to 6,000 rupee, or about $125 to the the price tag for the Nano — not insignificant for a car whose chief selling point is affordability. If Tata can ramp to the 100,000 annual production it originally envisioned for the Nano, the deal could be a good score for Bosch. Like Tata, the company has idled factories in recent months in response to slumping global demand.