Tata has been on a path of reinventing their passenger car arm and the most recent example of this initiative was seen at the 2014 Auto Expo in the form of the Zest, the Bolt among other concepts like the Nexon compact SUV. But while it may look like just another attempt to breathe new life into the ageing products, there is more here than meets the eye.
Tata's primary focus now is to improve the overall quality of their vehicles. This not only means better engineered products, it also means better research and development processes. While Tata has attempted these initiatives earlier, this time the difference is their focus on bringing the production and processes to a global standard. Tata now has its research and development network spread across four countries - India, UK, Italy and Korea. These centres employ over 6000 engineers and technicians to help bring Tata up to speed. New processes are being put in place and the improved manufacturing standard is expected to reflect in future Tata products.
Apart from improved components, Tata is also concentrating on redefining their design language. The Pixel and the Megapixel concepts are the early examples of the new design direction. However the Nexon concept shown at the 2014 Auto Expo embodies all the new design elements that Tata is gunning for. The company is taking design very seriously which is why it has a network of three design studios in India, Italy and UK.
The exhaustive product offensive will begin with the Bolt and the Zest for 2014. Next in line is the Nexon, which is a very important vehicle that will take on the booming compact crossover segment by 2015. The Nexon is also expected to be joined by a scaled down version of the Safari Storme.
At the other end of the range, the Nano will get an automated manual transmission and an updated design that was seen on the Twist Active concept at this year's Auto Expo. The design is inspired by the Pixel concept. The Megapixel concept on the other hand is said to be the basis of a new small car that will be sit above the Nano and will compete with the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Alto and even the new Datsun Go.
While a part of Tata Motors is playing catch-up with global trends, its other arms like the Tata Motors European Technical Centre are also concentrating on hybridisation and development of electric drivetrains. While the developments in these fields could benefit Tata's European presence, their feasibility for India will depend on how the infrastructure shapes up in the years to come. Nevertheless India seems poised to see a big push from Tata Motors in the next couple of years.