Tata Motors looking to source automatic transmissions from China for its budget car range
One fast fact about Tata Motors: Despite having over a dozen car models in its Indian range, the automaker does not have a single automatic transmission variant. Now though, things might change as Tata Motors has begun looking at sourcing automatic transmissions from China. The main reason for Tata to look towards China for automatic transmissions is said to be the low volumes with which automatic cars sell in India. This has led to Indian vendors not being willing to invest in building automatic gearboxes given the low volumes and high investment such an exercise entails.
The Chinese vendors though, seem to have no qualms in supplying small volumes of automatic gearboxes to Tata Motors and this is why the automaker is all set to source transmissions from that part of the world. While the volume of automatic cars being sold in the Indian budget car segment is still a small proportion when compared to cars with a manual gearbox, this is one segment that is showing a slow, albeit steady increase in volumes. For instance, the entry level car segment now has two cars being available with automatic transmissions, the Maruti Suzuki A-Star and the Hyundai i10. The Honda Brio automatic will join this pack soon.
In the B-Segment, the Hyundai i20 is the solitary model available with an automatic transmission, with a rumor suggesting that the Volkswagen Polo could soon be available in AT guise. However, the C-segment sedan class does have many cars offering automatic transmissions and so does the D-segment and the other luxury segments of the car market. Given that Tata Motors mainly operates in the budget segment, the Chinese sourced transmissions could be offered on the budget range of cars, thus making them more appealing to car buyers.
At the 2012 Indian Auto Expo earlier this year, Tata did showcase an automatic transmission for the likes of the Aria, Xenon and the Safari range of SUVs. The G85 six speed automatic transmission that was showcased at the Expo is rated for a torque handling capacity of 450 Nm. The gearbox, developed by Dana, for Tata Motors, is capable of operating in comfort, economy and sport modes. Also, the transmission comes with a tiptronic function for manual gearshifting. While the G85 transmission’s size means that it can be used on bigger vehicles like the SUVs, Tata is yet to come up with an automatic transmission for its smaller cars. This perhaps, is where the Chinese parts makers will step in.