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Jaguar Land Rover Reportedly Sharing Platforms with Parent Tata Motors’ New SUVs

Payback time?

by on Aug.25, 2014

Reports suggest that this Land Rover Discovery concept may be the basis for five- and seven-passenger vehicles from Indian automaker Tata.

After long maintaining a strict wall between their engineering and design departments, British maker Jaguar Land Rover may finally be ready to work more closely with its Indian parent Tata Motors.

A report from India indicates two new SUVs planned by Tata will ride on a platform shared with Land Rover. The vehicles are also expected to offer a new line of powertrains developed by the Jaguar Land Rover group that will be used in such future British models as the Jaguar XE sedan and Land Rover Discovery.

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Rumors of such a project have been circulating for months on outlets as diverse as the Economic Times, Autoblog and TheDetroitBureau.com. The latest to pick up – and add some significant details – is Indian website Live Mint. It reports that Tata will use Land Rover’s platform for both five- and seven-passenger SUV models. (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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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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India Likely to Become World’s Third-Largest Car Market by 2020

Overcoming the "three deficits" still a challenge.

by on Jun.14, 2011

Toyota is one of many foreign makers hoping to gain ground as the Indian automotive market expands.

India is expected to grow into one of the auto industry’s superpowers during the next decade, according to a new report by J.D. Power & Associates – and is likely to become the world’s third-largest automotive market by 2020.

The new study, “India Automotive 2020: The Next Giant from Asia,” noted that the vast subcontinental market already surpassed France, the United Kingdom and Italy to become the sixth-largest automotive market in the world in 2010. More than 2.7 million light vehicles were sold in India in 2010, up from just 700,000 a decade earlier.

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By 2020, the report projected, India’s automotive volume will grow to 11 million, positioning the nation of 1.2 billion just behind China, with projected annual sales of 35 million units in 2020, and the U.S., where light vehicles sales are pegged to reach 17.4 million.

“India has quickly become one of the largest and fastest-growing automotive markets in the world,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates.

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Tata Gives the Go to Pixel

Set for Europe, could Indian maker also target U.S.?

by on Mar.16, 2011

The Tata Pixel reportedly gets the go for Europe. But will the Indian maker next target the U.S.?

Even by city car standards, Tata’s Pixel concept is diminutive, measuring just 10 feet nose-to-tail, or nearly a foot smaller than the Indian maker’s already compact Nano.  But there’s apparently a market to be had, Tata reportedly giving Pixel the green light for launch into the European market.

Could the States be far behind?

Tata took the wraps off the little Pixel at the recent Geneva Motor Show, and the white, gull-winged two-door proved one of the most popular concepts of the show – if for no other reason than curiosity value.

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Tata bills Pixel as “the most package-efficient four-seater in the world,” and it is, indeed, a surprisingly roomy vehicle, one that could readily hold four adults – as long as those in the back weren’t part of an NBA team.

In European trim, anticipate a weight of less than 1700 pounds.  It will help that Tata expects to remove the gull-wing doors, which require plenty of reinforcement, and replace them with conventional portals.

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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.

Indian Maker Tata Turns To Detroit For Engineering Know-How

Maker plans to hire 400 American engineers.

by on Dec.06, 2010

Tata Technologies, part of the Indian conglomerate producing the little Tata Nano, is looking to hire 100s of Detroit engineers.

Tata Technologies, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Group, plans to hire 400 engineers by the end of the year at its technical center near Detroit to help with engineering projects for car makers in North America.

Dan Saad, Tata Technologies’ director of communications in North America, said the Indian firm is looking at candidates with engineering, design and in product lifecycle management experience.

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“The 400 positions are currently open in our HR database to be filled by January 3 that are a result of new automotive program work our engineering and our PLM/Consulting groups have won over the past
months,” Saad said.

“The positions are at automotive client sites – about 80% in metro Detroit, about 20% elsewhere in the U.S. We have about 500 employees in the U.S. now, and about 350” are assigned to the company’s Novi, Michigan offices, he said..

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How Low Can You Go? Try Geely’s $2,250 IG

Chinese maker’s two-door could become world’s lowest-price car.

by on May.07, 2010

Geely plans to put the IG concept into production by 2012, and at price that will likely run under $2,250, possibly as low as $1,500.

Just how low can a carmaker go and still have something that can be called an automobile?

Just days ago, TheDetroitBureau.com revealed plans by Nissan, Renault and India’s Baja Auto to produce a minimalist model for just $2,500 – about 10% less than the current low-price champ, the Tata Nano.  Now comes word that China’s aggressive little Geely wants to drive the numbers even lower.

Geely – which recently purchased Swedish carmaker Volvo from Ford Motor Co. – is putting a tentative price tag of just $2,250 on a production version of its pint-sized IG concept car.  (Though several sources have quoted figures as low as $1,500.)  And Geely officials insist their planned offering will be more than just a stripped down econobox.

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Set to go on sale sometime in 2012, the IG is expected to feature a modest 70-horsepower, 1.0-liter I-3, which will use a CVT transmission to drive the front wheels.

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Daimler Sells Off Tata Holdings

German maker says it can now target booming Indian market on its own.

by on Mar.09, 2010

Daimler says "tata" to Tata Motors.

The auto business can make for some strange bedfellows, but Germany’s Daimler AG says it has decided to end its ties to the Indian automaker Tata Motors.

Daimler expects to take in $410 million for its shares in Tata, where it held a roughly 5.3% stake.  That’s good news considering the German company’s recent financial problems, and will show up on the books for the first quarter.

The original investment reflected Daimler’s interest in staking a position in the booming Indian automotive market.  Tata is one of the lead players there, and has been targetting first-time buyers with the stripped-down Nano which, at just over $2,000, competes against motorcycles and other basic forms of transportation.

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But in a statement announcing the sale, Daimler said it was now in and “excellent position to capitalize on the growth potential of the Indian (market) by strengthening its own activities in both the car and commercial vehicle sectors.

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