TATA MOTORS - Sparks a Revolution

Discussion in 'Stocks' started by Sikhinvestor, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. India is a success story, I think today passes the baton from the US to India.

    India's Henry Ford [Rattan Tata] has sparkled a revolution, a car that the masses can afford. I think today, signifies the end of the American Automobile industry, when Ford finally does sell to Tata - they'll pretty much be throwing in the towel.

    The surprising thing to remember was Tata was at one time owned by Ford, a good chunk of it. Now Tata is buying Ford's key marquee name plates, I think the Jaguar brand will do apparently well in India, as their is a demand for luxury cars.

    Tata`s Rs 1 lakh Nano is the sum of its parts

    BS Reporters / New Delhi January 12, 2008

    Some 100 component makers worked with Tata Motors for over 3 years.

    Ratan Tata was able to keep his promise and deliver a car for Rs 1,00,000, the Nano, with help from some 100 component manufacturers, most of them homespun Indian outfits. Some of them worked with the core Tata Motors team in total secrecy for over three years.

    A day after Tata drove the car to the ramp at the 9th Auto Expo here and the world gaped in awe, several component manufacturers decided to lift the veil of secrecy and told Business Standard how the car was put together through collaborative engineering. The price target, they said, was achieved by sheer design improvisation and not cutting corners on essentials.

    The brief to them was simple: make things smaller and lighter, do away with superficial parts and change the material wherever possible.

    A few did their own research and development, some developed products with Tata Motors and quite a few were given designs by Tata Motors. The company even helped some vendors find international partners to make products that met the company's requirements.

    To begin with, it was decided to make the 623 cc two-cylinder petrol engine from aluminum. Conventional engines are made from cast iron, adding weight as well as cost to the car. “Being smaller and lighter, the cost was lower,” said Rico CEO Arvind Kapur who supplied the blocks to house the engine.

    The engine being lighter and placed at the rear of the car put less pressure on the steering systems, which allowed for more cost savings. As a result, there was no requirement for a link between the engine and the rear wheels.

    Surinder Kapur, chairman of the Sona group, which supplied the steering columns, steering gear and differential drive assembly, said: "The tubular design of the car instead of the conventional 'rod' design definitely helped cut costs, particularly the processes involved.”

    Lumax, which has supplied lighting systems for the Nano, worked closely with engineers from Tata Motors’ Engineering and Research Centre to ensure that cost targets were met. "We also did some competitive buying of material from countries like China and Thailand," Lumax Executive Director Deepak Jain said.

    Costs were also cut by using regular bulbs that meet the regulations instead of long life bulbs.

    Still others said Tata Motors was able to bring down prices through old-fashioned bargaining. Price negotiations from Tata Motors' side apparently started from 50 per cent of what component suppliers offered. But the Nano is expected to sell in large volumes and that would make up for the crunch in margins, they were promised.

    "When you are talking about 350,000 to half a million units, you start pricing the parts on variable cost. Typically at 250,000 units if the part reaches break-even point then the scope for reducing price changes dramatically,” said Anil Srivastava, CEO, GEA, a strategic consulting firm for automobile and parts companies.

    Even so, some suppliers could not meet Tata Motors' price demands. For instance, AIS, the country’s top automotive glass maker, decided to stay out of the basic car shown by Tata yesterday (the order was placed with Saint Gobain). “We are hopeful of getting into the deluxe model,” said AIS CEO Sanjay Labroo.

    Initially, Tata had plans to assemble the car at the dealers’ workshop to cut down his spend on logistics. The plan, reliable sources said, still stands.
  2. toc


    One could be pardoned for thinking that the hype surrounding the world's most cost-focussed mass produced car was all a media creation. Given not the column inches but literally double and triple page spreads in most national publications of relevance the Tata Nano was burdened with a great deal of expectation, both from within the company and outside.

    The objective of delivering a four-wheeled all-metal car with performance, safety and comfort also had to keep an eye not just on the customer price point framed in 1000-point letters on the engineers walls in the ERC but also the fact that the project has to make money as well. Clearly philanthrophy was not even considered by the team led by Girish Wagh to translate his chairman's vision of providing automobility hitherto unavailable to a great strata of Indians.

    Many completely rebuked the concept as not just audacious but totally harebrained when it was first espoused. This is an even more incredulous lot today, changing its line of detraction and seeking to know how and where the cost savings were made to arrive at the price Ratan Tata promised years ago. And it looks all set to deliver from the third quarter of this year.

    Clever design, intelligent solutions with simplicity thrown in to achieve the functional aspects, weight reduction by way of ample digital analysis and a strict adherence to cost were some of the means employed to get the project so clearly defined through each and every stage of the design and development process.

    Wagh's team underpinned its efforts by zeroing in on three vital parameters: it had to be a low cost focused automobile. Secondly it had to be designed and developed to meet all statutory safety and emission legislation while also being package protected to meet additional safety and other legislation issues which changing homologation requirements could throw at it. And finally the car had to have acceptable performance.

    Clearly the project was much too daunting to have even precluded the normally focused Japanese small car giants to cry off. It also eliminated the Chinese for this was an all-new out-of-the-box concept which hadn't been made before and therefore couldn't be copied. The Europeans were scared after the painful exercise with the Smart which lost out on the grounds of complexity and price all that it tried to gain by having a very small footprint on the road. This fact was not lost on the Tata design and engineering teams and so began the arduous process of not just lateral thinking but also involving almost everyone within the company to think collectively.

    Yes collective thinking came to the fore given the project's attraction. The challenge was also the attraction, engulfing everyone from the man at the helm of affairs to the shop floor operator who could - and were empowered to - bring in their own knowledge and experience to bear on various aspects of the design and engineering, the latter focusing on both the product as well as the manufacturing processes. This collective thought process was perhaps the biggest money saver and the largest repository of common sense brought to bear on a car everyone wanted to play a role in creating.

    Good design was the critical element behind making effective savings in material usage, reducing mass and weight, getting the weight distribution spot-on for both ride and handling plus also stability and safety. Good design also made the engineers opt for the rear engine placement, in the process gaining both large occupant space and also major cost savings. First off lets factor in the design vis-à-vis the monocoque chassis. Absolute structural stiffness analysis was done concurrently with the stylists at the I.De.A. Institute in Italy who penned the look of the car.

    NVH characteristics were as important to tackle at this stage as was the torsionsal strength of the structure. Using very lean but intelligent design, the team did enough to achieve its objective of a robust build for the application intended while yet not falling prey to the downward spiral of either over-designing or over-engineering. I think this is an abject lesson of great value engineering over both under - as well as over-engineering a concept.

    Given the rear engineered layout, the engineers were able to move the firewall well forward and this proved advantageous in terms of not just reduced weight but also enhancing the cabin footwell area. A great deal of digital validation occurred at every stage of the design and build process, ensuring that corrective measures if needed, could be taken quickly in the normal process. Two clear instances of low weight and low material requirements come to mind straightaway: the ribbed (or swaged) roof structure is not just a style element but also a strength structure by design using sheet metal of a thinner gauge. A second design detail which delivered cost and weight reduction along with the adoption of a cheaper manufacturing process was in the use of the rear glass windscreen bonded to the tailgate. This helped in maintaining the structural rigidity while cutting down on the weight and also in the stamping and blanking processes.

    The adoption of good design and packaging of the mechanical aggregates brought in great savings. The compact manner in which the engine is configured with a transverse twin-cylinder layout placed ahead of the rear axle line with the four-speed transaxle immediately behind it aided mightily in weight distribution plus also deriving a low centre of gravity. The battery being placed under the driver's seat helped spread the weight optimally while the radiator placed at the rear on the right hand side, ensured good placement of the ancillaries from an ease of operation point of view.

    The rear-engined layout also helped save costs and complexity given that the driveshafts didn't need complex joints as in a front engined, front-wheel drive car wherein these shafts also needed to swivel with the steering. GKN came up with a great set of driveshafts which are robust yet light and pretty efficient to handle the power and torque. Speaking of engine performance, the 623.6cc engine makes 33bhp at 5000rpm coupled to a lusty 48 Nm of torque at 2500rpm. In fact the commuter nature of the car is best shown on the torque front with the low engine speed peak torque is produced, staying in a linear line all the way to the upper ends of the rev range.

    Driveability isn't compromised while effecting major gains in fuel efficiency. Bosch played a major role in the development of the multi-point fuelling system and also the electronic management system enabling consistent and precise fuel delivery with optimized spark control, resulting in the frugal consumption of the 623.6cc engine.

    Another element of good design and engineering concerned the 623.6cc engine displacement. Earlier a 580cc engine was designed but Ratan Tata himself found this inadequate in driveability and fuel efficiency. Bumping up the displacement helped the volumetric efficiency and with good thermodynamics, achieved the engine performance characteristics to haul four adults easily in the cut and thrust of our daily commute.

    Another area where critical weight was saved, both physically and also dynamically concerned the adoption of the tubeless tyres made by MRF who are the single source tyre supplier's for the Nano. Given the lack of a tube in each wheel, a total of two kilogrammes were saved from the tyres alone, the lack of mass manifesting itself in low unsprung weight and resultant benefits in dynamic ability.

    The use of just the right amount of plastics for the given surface area they covered in the cabin plus the architecture of the seats with optimised cushioning are details which might not seem very glamourous but they did aid
    the packaging engineers in their battle to balance costs, comfort and complexity. Bare basic instrumentation for this class of car comes across as more than adequate.

    Finally, the complete project cost for the Nano, from design, development and production engineering a facility to make 250,000 units per annum are pegged at Rs 1700 crores - exactly the same amount the company spent a decade ago to kick start the Indica project. If that isn't good value engineering, pray tell us what is, for a car that you can buy for the price of top notch TAG Heuer sports watch? Need of the hour or a sign of the times? Or maybe both - the clock is now ticking for all the others to try and get their Nano clones ready.
  3. "Clearly the project was much too daunting to have even precluded the normally focused Japanese small car giants to cry off. It also eliminated the Chinese for this was an all-new out-of-the-box concept which hadn't been made before and therefore couldn't be copied. "

    Give them a week or two.


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  4. doli


    Before anyone gets too excited about cars for the masses in India, check out the driving conditions!
    Elephants on the road, fender-benders galore, crowds of pedestrians and two-wheelers. That Tata Nano has wheel bearings that are only rated for use up to 45 MPH, which may be adequate considering that there aren't many roads in India where you can drive above 45 MPH for sustained periods.
  5. when i was a kid a guy on my block had one of these..it was gonna be the future of economical cars :)

  6. toc


    To make a 5 passenger car with 50mpg, 70 mph top speed along with boot for luggage and rack on top.........all for $2500 including profits and delivery charges


    ps: every next marvel in the world does not come from the usa alone.............it does not have to!
  7. Well, at least when I see two of these new cars parked side-by-side I can say, "what a nice pair of TATA's" :eek:

  8. Excellent Commentary All

    Tata certainly is headed in the right direction from many standpoints.

    A significant portion of the worlds population has primary transportation called a motorcycle.

    And they try to carry their entire families on them...and when it rains, is cold etc. , everything stops.

    And the real money is going to be made selling parts, not on the initial sale.

    Tata along with Cheri of China, are going in the right direction.
  9. dis


    Why would anyone pay $2,500 for a garbage can on wheels?
  10. BSAM


    Hmmmmm.....You think this might be a slight exaggeration??
    #10     Jan 11, 2008