Tata auto news

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Tata to get Jaguar and Land Rover tech, platforms too?

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Tech, Jaguar, Land Rover, India, Tata

Tata Nano

Since buying Jaguar Land Rover, Indian automaker Tata has generally left its luxury arm's platforms and technology alone. However, those days might be gone. The two of them are gradually growing closer with coordinated development and rumors of shared platforms. And it looks like all of that work and money is finally going to pay off with an actual vehicle in the near future.

According to Australian website Drive, Tata wants to make its cars more attractive to buyers outside of India, and to do that the company knows it must improve quality. The Indian company is being careful, though, because it doesn't want to dilute the Jaguar or Land Rover brands with cheap models. "You're going to see in the future a lot of sharing of technologies and platforms over time, but you won't see a JLR with a Tata badge on it," said Darren Bowler, managing director of Tata's Australian distributor, to Drive.

According to Bowler, these future vehicles are already on the way. Tata and JLR have a global platform in the works for 2017 that both companies could use for cars or crossovers. He also hinted that Jaguar's new Ingenium engines could be shared among the brands in the future, too.

The latest pronouncements align rather closely with previous rumors. Earlier this year, reports emerged that Land Rover and Tata were considering a shared platform for the next-generation Freelander. The Landie would be aimed at its normal luxury, off-road market, and the other would be cheaper and more mainstream.

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Land Rover, Tata working on entry-level SUV for India?

04/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Land Rover, India, Tata, Rumormill

2013 Land Rover Freelander

Since Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, the companies have slowly begun working more closely together on development and production. However, they might be taking another big step because a recent report indicates that Land Rover and Tata may be working together on an SUV project for the Indian market.

According to the Economic Times, the two companies are working to create a five- to seven-passenger SUV based on a modified version of the platform from the Land Rover Freelander, known as the LR2 in other parts of the world. Mechanical development hasn't begun yet, but the project study is about to be concluded. The SUV could be on the road by 2016 or 2017 and would be targeted at a price of 2 to 2.5 million rupees ($33,209 to $41,511).

"The SUV is likely to be 50 to 85 percent different from the existing Freelander, but it will have the genes of a Land Rover with JLR quality," said an unnamed Jaguar Land Rover executive to the Economic Times.

It's even possible that the project could spawn two vehicles. The Tata SUV would be aimed at the mass market in India, while the Land Rover version would be a more premium vehicle. The team behind it claims that sharing large portion of the parts would keep the price of both vehicles down.

This might only be the first step in more joint projects among the automakers. According to a Tata executive speaking to the Times, it and Land Rover may also collaborate on a common engine in the future. With the Indian brand working to elevate its brand's stature in Asia, leaning on JLR for its experience may pay off. We've contacted Land Rover for more details, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

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Official: Tata unveils Bolt hatchback and Zest sedan [w/videos]

02/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Sedans/Saloons, Videos, Hatchbacks, Misc. Auto Shows, India, Tata, Diesel

The Tata Bolt is unveiled at the Auto Expo in India

As we noted last month, news of a Tata Nano diesel brought with it other news that the Indian car company would introduce a new sedan and hatchback, a hatchback with a rear hatch that actually opens. The company used the 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi to do just that, the Bolt hatch and Zest sedan introducing audiences to the unified marketing pushes called DesignNext, DriveNext and ConnectNext under the HorizonNext banner.

The two international models are twins, both based on an improved version of the X1 platform used for the Tata Indica Vista. The only differences are that the Zest gets LED DRLs and 16-inch wheels instead of the Bolt's 15-inchers, and the Zest gets the option of an automated manual transmission. Otherwise, Tata appears to be intent on giving both offerings segment-first or segment-defining features.

Both cars get the option of a turbocharged, 1.2-litre Revotron gas engine with 84 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque, as well as a 1.3-litre Multijet turbodiesel with 75 hp and 140 lb-ft. The Bolt makes do with a five-speed transmission affixed to either engine, while the Zest can be fitted with the F-Tronic automated manual.

Other features available on either car include Harman infotainment systems with five-inch touchscreens, Bluetooth with voice recognition and text-to-speech, speed-sensitive electric power steering, ABS with cornering stability and driving dynamics tuned by former Indian Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan. Their designs are said to have come from the company's three design studios in the UK, Italy and India. You'll find their launch videos below.

Continue reading Tata unveils Bolt hatchback and Zest sedan [w/videos]

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Report: Tata Motors boss Slym dead in tragic accident [UPDATE]

01/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: India, Tata

India General Motors

The managing director of Tata Motors, Karl Slym, was killed this past weekend, reportedly suffering a fall at a Bangkok hotel. Slym was in Thailand for a meeting with the board of director's for Tata's Thai outfit. The 51-year-old Brit joined Tata in October 2012, according to a report from the BBC, but he was also a veteran of Toyota in the UK and General Motors in India and China.

As managing director, Slym's responsibilities extended across the Tata empire, although they didn't include the resurgent Jaguar and Land Rover brands. Instead, Slym was brought in to help the main Tata brand's manufacturing, sales and distributions, according to the BBC.

Tata's chairman, Cyrus P. Mistry, called Slym "a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry." Tata released the following statement:

Tata Motors deeply regrets to announce the untimely and tragic demise of its Managing Director, Karl Slym, in Bangkok earlier today. Karl Slym was in Bangkok to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors of Tata Motors Thailand Ltd.

Karl Slym joined Tata Motors in October 2012, and was providing leadership to the company through a challenging market environment. The company shares in the grief of Karl Slym's wife and family at their irreparable loss.

"In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl's wife and family," Mistry said.

UPDATE: CNN is reporting that police are treating Slym's death as "being treated as a possible suicide." The story also indicates a note may have been found.

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Report: Tata Nano diesel coming next month, sedan and hatchback planned?

01/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Economy, Sedans/Saloons, Hatchbacks, India, Tata, Diesel

Tata Nano

Confirming our report from several months back, Tata will begin offering a diesel-powered Nano in the not-so-distant future, with one report even claiming it'd debut as early as February, at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo.

The new engine will be a twin-cylinder, 800-cc turbodiesel, according to CarDekho, that could very well be make the Nano the most fuel efficient vehicle on sale in the country's rapidly developing auto industry. Estimates from World Car Fans claim the Nano diesel will return 82 to 94 miles per gallon on the US cycle. The Nano is currently available in both gas and CNG-powered forms, although with a projected 45 horsepower, the diesel should outgun both the 38-hp gas engine and the 33-hp CNG mill.

Joining the new powerplant will be a pair of new body styles. First, a new hatchback, complete with styling from Tata's European studio will be offered. Unlike the current car, which has a hatchback's shape without, you know, an actual rear hatch, this new model should offer access to the back from outside the car. A four-door sedan will also be available.

Reports claim that both the hatch and the sedan will come with considerably larger, more powerful engines. The sedan should churn out over 100 horsepower while the hatch will offer either a 1.3-liter Fiat diesel or a 1.2-liter turbo.

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Report: Tata looking to add nicer Nano models to reverse sales flop

04/15/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Hatchbacks, India, Tata

Tata Nano Gold Plus

Bloomberg reports Tata may introduce more expensive vehicles based on the automaker's low-buck Nano in an attempt to lure more buyers. As the company discovered, even the world's least wealthy drivers aren't interested in a vehicle marketed as the world's cheapest car.

Wrap your head around that one.

Tata has sold 229,157 Nano models since 2009, and last month saw sales fall by 86 percent compared to March 2012. Even so, the company says it doesn't plan to kill off the car. Instead, Tata may bring a number of Nano variations to market.

Those may include something along the lines of the Pixel Concept. That machine debuted at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, offering two doors and a diesel engine along with a bit more style. Specifically, Tata wants to target a wide range of buyers across multiple price points instead of attempting to sell people a four-wheeled scooter replacement.

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Report: Jaguar Land Rover and Chery investing in Chinese plant

11/24/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: China, Plants/Manufacturing, Jaguar, Land Rover, Chery, Tata, Luxury

While the European auto market for Jaguar and Land Rover is waning, Chinese car buyers can't get enough of the British marques. To meet that demand, Tata Motors, parent company of Jag and Land Rover, is partnering with Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co.

The two announced plans to invest $1.75 billion to build a new plant and create a new, China-focused brand. 2014 is the target for completion of the factory. Jaguars and Land Rovers built at the facility will be the first ever produced outside the UK according to the Associated Press. The JV will be called Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company Ltd.

The announcement comes less than a month after JLR announced it would open a design studio in China. It's not clear from the reports whether the two announcements are part of the same JV or two separate plans.

China requires any company wanting to set up domestic production to partner with a local business. By doing so, JLR avoids a 25-percent tariff on imported cars. Chery benefits from a planned research and development center as well as a chance to "really upgrade its capabilities," according to Bill Russo of Synergistic Ltd. in Beijing.

You can read the official press release below.

Continue reading Jaguar Land Rover and Chery investing in Chinese plant

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Report: Redesigned Tata Nano to arrive in U.S. wearing price tag under $10k

10/16/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, India, Tata

Tata Megapixel concept live on show floor in Geneva

Tata's much ballyhooed Nano isn't exactly selling as expected in its home market of India, especially after the well-publicized fires engulfing the several examples of the world's cheapest car. Despite that, the head of Tata Group, Ratan Tata, says his company remains intent on bringing an updated sub-$10,000 Nano to the States, and he intends to do so in three years.

While the Indian market gets a bare-bones Nano powered by a two-cylinder, 37-horsepower engine, Tata unsurprisingly says the US version will have a larger engine, power steering and traction control.

"The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars," Tata tells Automotive News. "But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal."

With the US economy still slowly recovering, a car for under $10k could have plenty of appeal. But the Indian automaker has several obstacles to overcome first, not the least of which is building a dealer network for the Nano. Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover, but that group's CEO, Andy Goss, says there has been no discussion about using those dealers to distribute the Nano.

Perhaps the updated US-bound Nano will be more like the Nano Megapixel concept (pictured above) we saw at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. That car had a longer, 138-inch wheelbase and a larger 325cc engine supplemented by two electric motors. It's safe to assume that if Tata wants to keep costs down so that it can offer the car below $10,000, the next Nano won't get a hybrid powertrain like the Megapixel, but perhaps it will pick up some of the car's size and styling cues.

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Report: Ratan Tata hopes to restart Nano sales after fiery start [w/video]

08/24/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Videos, Jaguar, Land Rover, India, Tata

Ratan Tata and Nano

When India's Tata introduced the Nano in 2009 at about $2,500, it was a hot-seller. It was expected to set the world on fire with demand for cheap wheels. In fact, a year after its rollout, the Nano almost did set the world on fire after at least three units burned to a crisp. Sales plummeted to a record low of 509 in November, 2010.

Ratan Tata has run the company for 20 years and plans to retire at the end of this year. But before he leaves the company, he hopes to revive sales of the little car he helped develop.

"The Nano is something I would love to make successful because I don't think it's exploited its full potential right now," Tata said in an interview with Bloomberg TV India. "There has to be another push to make Nano what it can be."

Extended warranties for current Nano owners, as well as promises that the fires were only isolated incidents, were the first step at restoring confidence in the Nano. A new version of the Nano came out in November with a larger engine, and July sales totaled 5,485. In all of last year it sold 74,527. By comparison, Suzuki sold 491,389 examples of its competing Maruti brand.

In the video below, Ratan Tata talks a bit about the company's purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover and of his upcoming retirement.

Continue reading Ratan Tata hopes to restart Nano sales after fiery start [w/video]

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Report: Suzuki cozying up with Fiat?

05/24/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Suzuki, India, Tata, FIAT

2012 Fiat Sedici - Front three-quarter view, purple static shot

Fiat and Tata has reportedly stepped away from a tieup in the Indian market that saw Fiats being built in India, using engines shared with Tata and Maruti models, and being sold through Tata dealers. Neither company commented, but according to analysts, the issue was that in addition to Tata was simply too busy with its other endeavors, especially Jaguar Land Rover, to attend to the Fiat deal. Sales of the joint-venture vehicles have declined by more than 20 percent year-on-year.

The Fiat-Tata union isn't binding, and talk has now centered around Fiat snuggling up with Suzuki. Suzuki has a huge position in Asia, Suzuki-Maruti being India's largest carmaker and the Japanese firm having sold more than half its cars in the Asia region, excluding Japan, over the year that ended March 31. Fiat, on the other hand, only sold three percent of its wares in Asia in 2011.

There is debate about how beneficial a Fiat-Suzuki tieup would be. Suzuki's position is facing pressures, but some observers say the Japanese firm has all the strengths and, at most, would benefit from "a timely supply of engines," but possibly confuse customers by adding Fiat to its distribution channel. Others think that it would be a good union, with Fiat providing "a sound name" and a technology exchange.

Such a venture would rely on Suzuki extricating itself from its still-binding union with Volkswagen, an adventure that has probably soured Suzuki on the phrase "technology exchange" for a bit. Among the problematic issues, Suzuki has accused VW of breach-of-contract by not sharing VW technology and not initiating any of the joint projects that were Suzuki's reason for the deal. Suzuki and Fiat presently collaborate on the Fiat Sedici/Suzuki SX4, and when Suzuki bought diesel engines from Fiat instead of VW, the German company accused the Japanese automaker of breach-of-contract. Both parties are in arbitration over the matter; last we heard, Suzuki wants its 20-percent stake returned, while VW is still in favor of the partnership. A VW victory would nix the kind of Suzuki deal with Fiat being speculated now.

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