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Automotive Hall of Fame Set to Induct Four “Who Moved the World Forward”

List includes Penske, Tata and Montezemolo.

by on May.07, 2015

Racing team owner and business man Roger Penske is part of the next induction class for the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Among the countless men and women who have worked in the auto industry since its earliest days, only the rare few have left a truly lasting legacy on the world, and four of them will find a lasting legacy as they’re inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame two months from now.

The four are a diverse group of modern-day legends, such as Roger Penske, Luca di Montezemolo and Ratan Tata, as well as industry pioneer Elwood Haynes – all chosen, the AHF said, because they “moved the world forward through their contributions to the global auto industry.”

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“Each made their unique vision a reality through tenacity and creativity,” said William R. Chapin, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame. It is the story of the automotive industry from the beginning and the Automotive Hall of Fame is proud to share that story.” (more…)

Tata Bringing World’s Cheapest Car to US Market

But will Americans say no-no to Nano?

by on Oct.15, 2012

Can Tata Make a Nano that Americans would take seriously? It apparently wants to try.

Americans will soon get the chance to buy what is generally considered the world’s most inexpensive automobile.  But considering the safety problems experienced by the little Tata Nano – which has received only a mixed reception in its home Indian market – it’s anyone’s guess whether U.S.  motorists will say yes or no-no to the microcar.

The Nano is the work of Tata, one of India’s biggest industrial conglomerates and parent to a carmaking division with aggressive global aspirations.  Along with the homegrown Tata brand it also owns both the British Jaguar and Land Rover marques.

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There’s no confusing their products, however.  The original Tata Nano is a step up from a motor scooter, with only the most minimal creature comforts and a severe lacking of safety features, as well, according to critics.

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Jaguar Will Price New F-Type Between Porsche’s Boxster and 911

All-wheel-drive, even higher performance versions likely to follow – but forget diesel.

by on Sep.26, 2012

Jaguar reveals what could be its most important new model in six decades, the F-Type.

Only the Brits would come to Paris to unveil a new convertible in the pouring rain. But Jaguar is hoping that the soggy send-off for the new F-Type sports car won’t dampen the reception for the long-awaited “spiritual successor” to the legendary Jaguar E-Type.

The new F-Type will get its official debut on Thursday, during the opening press day of the 2012 Paris Motor Show.  The maker offered relatively few details about the new sports car during the Wednesday sneak peek, but TheDetroitBureau.com has gotten an inside look at Jaguar’s ambitious plans – which include a range of additional F-Type variants that will come to market during the new model’s likely 6- to 8-year lifecycle.

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Among other things, expect to see even more powerful versions of the Jaguar F-Type than the 495-horsepower supercharged V-8 that will reach showrooms early next year.  An all-wheel-drive model may very well be in the works, TheDetroitBureau.com learned, though a diesel model is not in the cards.

Meanwhile, Jaguar hopes to capture as much as 10% of the global sports car market, Andy Goss, CEO of Jaguar-Land Rover North America revealed, in part by pricing the new F-Type between the Porsche Boxster and 911 models.

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Struggling Tata Nano Gets Competition as “World’s Cheapest Car”

New Bajaj RE60 meant as rickshaw replacement.

by on Jan.06, 2012

You can buy a rickshaw - or a Bajaj RE60.

How low can you go?  India’s Tata Motors thought it found rock-bottom when it launched the $2,600 Nano several years ago.  But it is about to get a run for its money from the new Bajaj RE60, a microcar its manufacturer says is meant to replace the time-honored rickshaw — and which could come in at a price even lower than the Nano’s.

That could be bad news for Tata, which has been struggling to build demand for the stripped-down Nano, which has suffered from an assortment of glitches since its March 2009 introduction.  Among other things, it was involved in a series of fires and, most recently, Tata announced it would have to replace the starters in 140,000 of the pint-sized vehicles.

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“I don’t consider it a flop,” Ratan Tata, the soon-to-retire chairman of parent company Tata Sons, insisted during a news conference in New Delhi at Auto Expo 2012.  “I consider it that we have wasted an opportunity.”

The opportunity to now make the Nano the success originally envisioned will certainly be tested with the launch of the Bajaj RE60.

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Forster Unexpectedly Quits at Tata

Uncertain impact on plans for Jaguar and Land Rover.

by on Sep.12, 2011

Former Tata Motors chief Carl-Peter Forster.

Carl-Peter Forster has resigned as chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Motors, citing a serious illness in his immediate family. He will remain a non-executive director of Tata, the ambitious Indian automaker that purchased Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Co. two years ago.

Forster had joined Tata in February, 2010 after a long career with General Motors that ended in 2009 when he supported the sale of majority control of GM’s Opel subsidiary to a consortium of Russian Banks allied with Canadian automotive supplier Magna International Inc.  The deal was scrubbed after a series of executive changes at GM,notably including the ouster of CEO Fritz Henderson who, like Forster, had supported the sale.

“The board respects Carl-Peter’s personal circumstances that led to this move,” Tata Chairman Ratan Tata said following Forster’s resignation. “We would like to thank him for his contributions to the successful development of our company.”

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Tata is the largest of the domestic Indian automakers and arguably the most ambitious.  The Tata brand name is perhaps best known for its Nano model, the world’s cheapest automobile.  But Tata has struggled to expand out of its home market and has been counting on its two British brands to help it become a truly global player in the competitive automotive industry.  But things are clearly not going as well as Tata hoped.

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First Look: Tata Pixel Urban Concept Car

This car really does rotate on a dime.

by on Mar.03, 2011

Based on the Nano, the Tata Pixel measures just 10 feet in length and can turn on its own axis thanks to a unique rear wheel design.

Things don’t always go the way they’re planned during auto show previews, as Indian mega-industrialist Ratan Tata discovered during the news conference held by his eponymous Tata Motors at the Geneva Motor Show.

Tata came to the event to watch the debut of his company’s Pixel show car, which it bills as a “concept for a European city car.”  Things went perfectly well until it was time to open the electrically-operated scissor doors.  Suddenly things shorted out in the electronic control panel hidden under the rear hatch, sending nervous technicians scurrying to do a quick re-wiring.

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The brief setback didn’t chase the crowds away, however.  If anything, Tata has gotten plenty of attention since launching the world’s cheapest – and one of the smallest – automobiles, a few years back.  And while the Nano is very much “a car for India,” the Pixel “is a car for the world,” asserted Carl-Peter Forster, the former Opel chief who now runs Tata Motors.

As is immediately obvious, the Nano serves as the starting point for the new Tata Pixel, though it has clearly been refined to meet Western sensibilities.  But size still matters.

Even with the front seats in a normal position, the Tata Pixel offers surprising interior space.

Though only 10 feet, nose-to-tail, the Pixel fits four adults in reasonable comfort thanks to a flexible interior design and a tall roof that allows for upright seating.

Even more intriguing than the swing-up doors, the little coupe uses a system in which the rear wheels rotate in opposite directions, allowing the Pixel to turn on its own axis when parking.

Assisting is something the Indian maker describes as a Zero Turn turoidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission.

A technician struggles to fix the controls for the Pixel's malfunctioning scissor doors.

The Tata Pixel’s 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbodiesel gets a stop/start system to eliminate wasteful idling.  That helps it achieve an estimated 60 mpg, according to the maker.

While the stop/start technology is the most likely system to actually make the jump from the concept stage, Forster told TheDetroitBureau.com that a production version of the Nano-based Pixel “is do-able.”

How long?  It would likely take two to three years, the German executive said as he watched with relief when the electric doors finally began to swing open.