ICB Exclusive: Tata Motors wants to do a Volkswagen and here’s all the dope

Tata Motors isn’t in the pink of health, affected seriously as it is by the general sales slowdown that the passenger car category in India has witnessed over the past year or so. The arrival of former General Motors man Karl Slym to the Tata Motors fold coincides with the turnaround plan that the decision makers at Tata have put in place for the Indian car and utility vehicle maker. Team roving eye in the sky, EarthFusion, is keeping a close watch on developments unfolding at Pimpri and we have just hit paydirt today. Tata Motors wants to a Volkswagen(MQB  Platform Fame) by developing specific platforms for specific groups of cars and we have confirmation of one such platform from Tata. These platforms will underpin future Tata cars in the coming years.

Tata Manza Diesel Electric Hybrid Concept

Tata Manza Diesel Electric Hybrid Concept used as an illustration

EarthFusion reports that Tata Motors will launch of a range of next generation hatchbacks under the AMP platform, an acronym for Advanced Modular Platform. This platform will underpin the Dolphin project, a hatchback that will sit between the Nano and the Vista in Tata Motors’ hatchback range. The AMP platform will also underpin other future hatchbacks and this includes the next generation models of the Vista. Similarly, Tata will have a specific platform for its range of sedans such as the Indigo eCS and the Indigo Manza. Tata will also have a specific platform for its utility vehicles that will include MUVs and SUVs. In this light, Tata wants to emulate German car maker Volkswagen in having modular platforms for specific car segments.

The idea behind this platform sharing across Tata cars through common platforms is to share parts and production facilities. Tata Motors’ experiment with the Nano, the world’s least priced car is a testament to what can go wrong if a car fails to do well at the hustings. To build the Nano, Tata established a greenfield manufacturing facility at Sanand. This effort also involved the setting up of a big vendor park beside the main factory that produced the Nano at Sanand. Slow sales at Sanand has meant that the Tata factory is operating at under one third of its installed capacity even as vendors supplying parts for the Nano have had to curtail production on a large scale.

On hindsight, this issue could have been mitigated if the Nano was developed on a modular platform that also plays host to other cars. If the factory was geared to produce multiple cars sharing a platform, Tata Motors could have put the production capacity of Sanand to better use. In future though, Tata new platform sharing approach is expected to result in just that. We’re digging around for more specific information about Tata Motors’ modular platform approach. Watch this space.

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