Tata small car: D-day nears

MUMBAI: With a lot of hoopla created by worldover media on the trendsetter Rs 1 lakh car from Tata, The Indian company has decided to unveil the much-awaited People's Car at the Auto Expo to be held in January 2008, although the commercial launch will take place later by the middle of the year.

The officials added that Tata Motors and Fiat India Automobile Private Limited will participate jointly in the 9 th Auto Expo and will display the vehicles in a pavilion spread over 5,200 square metres.Revealing details about the Rs 1 lakh car, non-executive director on the Tata Motors board RA Mashelkar said, "It's an eco-friendly car with a 25 km-per-litre mileage on petrol and meets every international standard and specification, including Euro-4 norms. Acceleration wise, it's the same as a Maruti 800." He was recounting his recent ride on the prototype at Tata Motors' Pune plant.

"It's a tool for inclusive growth," Mr Mashelkar said in Kolkata on Tuesday. He was speaking here on 'Resurgence of Innovative India: The Phenomenon and the Consequences,' organised jointly by East India Pharmaceutical Works and The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.Mr Mashelkar also revealed how the small car concept first struck Ratan Tata, who's now in the race to acquire two iconic British brands - Jaguar and Land Rover. "You know how 'Ratan' (Ratan Tata) thought about this small car. He talked to me on several things. One day, he was going on the road and saw a family of four getting soaked in the rain. That was when he decided to create a small car for all," he said."Just a month ago, I was at the Tata Motors' factory in Pune, talking to their engineers and their fantastic team there. It was there that I had the privilege of sitting in that small car - the Rs 1-lakh car that they plan to roll out at Singur. It is incredible," said Mr Mashelkar. "I sat in that car by the way, and it was amazing," he said.

"I am a six footer and it's spacious both in the front and in the rear. In terms of acceleration, it is equivalent to a Maruti 800 and has an incredible design finished by indigenous Tata Motors' engineers," Mr Mashelkar added.Talking on the potential of economics of this car, the top-notch scientist said: "It will create a paradigm shift in low-cost transport and the whole world is looking forward to a car that efficiently runs 25 km on a litre of petrol and offers international specifications.These kind of fuel-efficient cars will be in demand as pollution is on the rise, climates are changing and fossil fuels are running out. People are looking at a new global eco-car and I have a feeling that this can be the new eco-car not only in the country but elsewhere - in other countries. I feel a sense of pride that it will be manufactured in India."

"In a bid to reduce weight of the car, Tata Motors' engineers have used more plastics. The car does not use too many bolts which also helps in reducing weight. Instead, it's all a new kind of welding - a new technology altogether," said Mr Mashelkar when asked on the specifics of the design."I got into a prototype and they had asked me to drive it, but I was a little scared as I have not been driving all these days. They wanted to show me their innovation as I am involved in innovation. The project is extremely close to my heart," he added.Mr Mashelkar further said, "Every other company manufactures products for the top of the income bracket pyramid and I am concerned about middle, lower middle and the bottom of this pyramid. The issue is how do we create products for them and, therefore, the Rs 1-lakh car is like the dream as far as I am concerned."

About the general scepticism that the car would initially be priced at Rs 1 lakh which could later be raised, Mr Mashelkar said: "The way their engineers have been able to design it and style it to meet specifications - it is absolutely incredible. It does not look like the Indica and they have styled it differently, it has a sloping front.It can bring a transformation in low-cost transportation around the world. These days, people are looking for products that will meet standards, safety norms and still offer comfort.With great concerns on climate change, depleting fossil fuels, pollution more green and clean products will come from India. Products that meet performance standard and price expectations will succeed."

Tata Motors will display a range of new passenger vehicles, while Fiat will display passenger cars from its international range. From its commercial vehicles business, Tata Motors' displays will include buses from the joint venture with Marcopolo of Brazil, newly developed multi-axle heavy trucks, pickup vehicles, applications of panel vans, and new mini-trucks. The New Delhi Auto Expo, which is a biennial event, has been the glittering showcase of the Indian automobile and auto-component industry for the last 18 years. A complete automotive show, it is a platform for the world to display state-of-the-art and latest developments in the automotive industry.


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