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Jaguar Lays Out Specs, U.S. Launch Plans for New XE Sport Sedan

American debut delayed a year.

by on Oct.01, 2014

The new Jaguar XE won't reach the U.S. until Spring of 2016, but will arrive with a full range of engines, as well as rear- and all-wheel-drive.

Jaguar will wait until spring 2016 to bring its new XE sport sedan to the U.S., a full year behind the global launch of the new compact model, but it means that Stateside buyers will be offered a nearly full range of diesel and gas powertrains – as well as the all-wheel-drive system likely to be critical to ensuring the Jaguar XE’s appeal in cold weather regions of the American marketplace.

Following up on an early, invitation-only preview in London last month, Jaguar will be giving the public a first close look at the all-new XE at the Paris Motor Show, which begins with a media preview this week.

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The XE is arguably the most important new product Jaguar has launched in years, at least from a volume perspective, targeting one of the globe’s fastest-growing market segments.

Describing it as “the new custodian of the Jaguar DNA,” Chief Platform Engineer Nick Miller said the XE is intended to be “an accessible Jaguar attracting a new audience to the Jaguar brand.”


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 Unveils $20,000 Battery Car

An “intimate understanding” of frugal engineering.

by on Jan.12, 2012

Tata used "frugal engineering" to hold the estimated price of the eMo battery car concept to $20,000.

Electric vehicles don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, insists Indian automaker Tata Motors.

Its research arm, Tata Technologies, has unveiled a prototype for a $20,000 electric car that can carry four passengers without adding to the pollution in crowded cities around the world.

“The eMo project symbolizes the coming of age of Indian automotive engineering,” said Warren Harris, Tata Technologies President and Global COO. “It is a tangible example of the capability of Tata Technologies to engineer a full vehicle – a first for any India-based engineering services company,” added Harris during a press conference at the North American International Auto Show.

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Harris added, “Because we are India-based, Tata Technologies is intimately familiar with developing markets. Additionally, our experience and presence in Europe and North America means we also have an understanding of developed markets. It’s a combination that provides a competitive advantage to our clients,” added Harris, who noted the company also does extensive work for clients such as Ford Motor Co and Chrysler Group in the U.S.


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.


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.


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.


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..


Driving Tata Nano: Will Americans Accept Its Limitations?

Indian price of $2,500 would likely more than double here.

by on Aug.11, 2010

The relatively luxurious Tata Nano LX.

The little four-seater proves reasonably adept as we pull away from the Grand Traverse Resort.  It’s not registered for U.S. roads, so we have to stick to the sprawling complex’s service roads, but they’re long and quick enough to give us a sense of what to expect from one of the most well-publicized cars in the world.

The Tata Nano is not only the cheapest car on the road, but also one of the smallest.  At 122 inches, nose-to-tail, it’s barely a foot longer than the Smart fortwo – even with its two back seats.  And, at just 1,500 pounds, it weighs about 300 pounds less than the Franco-German Smart.

That helps the little Nano make do with a miniscule 624-cc (0.6 liter) two-cylinder engine making 35 horsepower.  Whether it can take the fortwo in a drag race is uncertain, though the Nano certainly won’t leave a patch of rubber.  But rated at 56 mpg – with a 4-gallon gas tank giving it a theoretical range of 224 miles – one might forgive its less-than-stellar performance. (more…)