India Watch : Tata Motors may use JLR’s expertise for new models

Nandini Sen Gupta, The Economic Times, 30th August, 2010

NEW DELHI: Tata Motors Limited is looking to seek help from British subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover’s engineers to build more refined passenger cars. According to a top Tata Motors official, the mother company will use expertise in design, noise and vibration and other aspects to build a portfolio of cars that are more sophisticated than its current range of Indica hatchback, Indigo sedan and the Nano ultra low-cost car.

Speaking to The Economic Times, P M Telang, Tata Motors’ Managing Director – India Operations, said: “We know we need to improve our car operations in terms of fits, finishes, noise, vibration and design elements. That’s where Jaguar Land Rover can help us.” Indeed, JLR engineers were invited to take a look at the Nano following complaints of the car catching fire.

“We invited a group of engineers from JLR to join 20 engineers from Tata Motors and forensic experts and examine the Nano closely. They did a thorough job and came to the conclusion that there’s no design problems or faulty components with the Nano and that the instances of the car catching fire are stray instances.”

We know we need to improve our car operations in terms of fits, finishes, noise, vibration and design elements. That’s where Jaguar Land Rover can help us.” P M Telang, Managing Director – India Operations, Tata Motors Limited
The search for synergies between Tata Motors and JLR comes on the heels of the British subsidiary turning in positive results in the first quarter, greatly boosting the parent company’s bottomline. “There are a lot of synergies with JLR — we can add value to their operations and they can add value to ours,” Mr Telang said. With Tata Motors looking to boost its passenger car portfolio, both for the domestic as well as international markets, JLR’s contribution to future Tata products could be crucial.

The car drive is also crucial for Tata Motors’ plans for the Asean market although it has, for now, pulled out of the Thai eco car project for which it was selected. “The Thai project had certain pre-conditions which didn’t work for us,” Mr Telang said. “But Asean will be a large and important market for Tata Motors, and cars will be an important part of that.”

Although he refused to talk about future models and platforms under development except to say “Tata Motors will examine each market segment and see if it has products to cater to them”, people close to the company say Tata Motors is already building another small car to be positioned between the Nano and the Indica to take on the Suzuki Alto’s 2.5 lakh units a year market.

There are a lot of synergies with JLR — we can add value to their operations and they can add value to ours… If JLR can pitch in to make Tata cars more refined, Tata Motors will help JLR cut costs and get more sourcing benefits.” P M Telang, Managing Director – India Operations, Tata Motors Limited
The company has already indicated JLR will use some of Tata Motors’ famed frugal engineering skills to build lighter and smaller engines for the future. Mr Telang said the emission norms in Europe will pressurise JLR to look at smaller engines which will throw up opportunities for synergy and the two companies would look at options of joint engine development which could meet both JLR’s needs as well as its parent’s.

JLR currently sources its engines from Ford, a throwback to its days as a Ford subsidiary. Tata Motors is also looking to assemble Land Rovers in India in an effort to push up volumes from the brand. Tata Motors has earlier explored product development synergies with its overseas subsidiaries like Tata Daewoo or Hispano Carrocera.

“The Prima range of trucks is a joint development between Tata Daewoo and Tata Motors. Similarly, there are joint development projects and synergies being worked out at Hispano Carrocera. So, JLR will follow suit,” said Mr Telang. “If JLR can pitch in to make Tata cars more refined, Tata Motors will help JLR cut costs and get more sourcing benefits,” he added.

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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