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Maruti Suzuki XA Alpha origins

Maruti Suzuki XA Alpha origins

May 08, 2012 / 05:05 PM IST

The finished product is what's presented to you for evaluation. But how did it come about is a question that your average Joe isn't really interested in. The years, months and days spent in research and in designing, which eventually produces the final product, remains but a footnote. Which is why we decided to get behind the scenes and understand the arduous but exciting process of producing a concept car.

The XA Alpha from the Maruti Suzuki stable was one of the most exciting concepts to be shown at the 11th edition of the Delhi Auto Expo. It was a joint effort by the R&D departments of Suzuki Motor Corp and Maruti Suzuki India. But the Japanese role was more in terms of guidance with the actual design coming from the Indian drawing board. And what's impressive is that this concept went from the research stage to its deserved spotlight at the Maruti Suzuki stall at the Expo in just nine months.

It started around March 15, 2011 when the whole idea of a concept vehicle for the Expo was mooted. It began with a three month research activity across ten cities. The main target audience was the Indian youth and this research came up with the finding that the young guns preferred an SUV as their vehicle of choice. Requirements like trendy, experimental, rugged while also being compact, refined with city and off-road usage capability came to the fore. The premise of the vehicle was rugged living, wild urban' as Maruti calls it and they felt that nothing better represented this theme than the Indian wrestling. Kushti is as Indian as it gets and that formed the blue print. Using all of these findings the six-member team - Jagjit Singh Rana (Head designer), Anupamsingh Tomer, Ankit Prashar, Rekha Meena, Ajay Kota and Shailendra Petwal - at Maruti's advanced design department started putting the pieces together.

Next up was the sketching stage. This was a two-month process with each member submitting their sketches. There were almost 20-30 sketches being prepared by each member, everyday, as the team went about deciding the direction in which they wanted the final design to proceed. The go wild' liberty given by the big bosses gave the team a lot of freedom especially considering that since it was a concept there were no engineering restrictions - a designer's dream. It resulted in 16 options being given by the six designers. It was Tomer's design which got selected.

After sketching the next stage was modelling. This involved creating the final design using the computer and also making of a scaled as well as a full size model of the final vehicle. There were many iterations and the team added and removed bits, in consultation with their Japanese counterparts to fine tune and finalise the design. This took two months.

Turn to the next page to check the excerpts from the conversation between OVERDRIVE and the GM of product planning and design at Maruti Suzuki.

In-conversation with Tarun Agarwal GM product planning and design

What was the thought process behind the creation of the XA Alpha?

The XA Alpha has a very contemporary look to it. Not too flashy as concepts go.

At what stage is automotive design in India? And where is it headed?