Feb 09, 2018 09:52 AM IST | Source:

Auto Expo 2018: Tata Motors charts out Alfa & Omega, but where does the tiny Nano fit?

The current generation cars such as Tiago, Tigor, Safari, Indica, Sumo belong to different platforms which means they could either be moved to the new architectures or be discontinued gradually

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb
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Tata Motors has charted a product strategy for the future where it will essentially focus on two architectures — Alfa and Omega — to address all the gaps leaving virtually no space for the struggling mini car Nano.

The indigenously developed Alfa Arc, previously known as Advanced Modular Platform (AMP), will address the market with products having length between 3.7 and 4.3 meters.

This will allow it to cover more than 90 percent of the current passenger vehicle market. This platform can accommodate vehicles such as mini hatchbacks, compact sedans, mid-size sedans, compact sports utility vehicles, premium hatchback, mid-size sports utility vehicles and crossovers.

The first product using the Alfa Arc platform is the 45X, a premium hatchback (rivalling the Maruti Suzuki Baleno) unveiled by Tata Motors at the Auto Expo and to be commercially launched in 2019.

On the other hand, the Omega Arc is a larger platform developed by Tata Motors-Jaguar Land Rover combined, which will address the segment above the Alfa Arc. The H5X, premium SUV showcased by Tata Motors, is derived from the Omega Arc platform. This vehicle will also be launched in 2019.

The current generation cars such as Tiago, Tigor, Safari, Indica, Sumo belong to different platforms which means they could either be moved to the new architectures or be discontinued gradually.

In the process of transitioning to such new generation vehicles Tata Motors is undecided on the fate of the Nano, the mini car that was launched at the hands of Tata Motors former chairman Ratan Tata in 2008.

One of the options for the company is to allow its Coimbatore-based partner Jayem Auto to sell the car with an electrified powertrain.

Talking to Moneycontrol on the sidelines of the Auto Expo 2018, Guenter Butschek, Managing Director and CEO said that no decision has been taken yet on the future of Nano but he also hinted that the model has indeed reached the end of its product lifecycle.

“A unilateral decision from Jayem Auto was to have an electric version of the Nano. They asked us to provide the glider and they actually took care of the integration of the electric powertrain for which we also obtained the certification etc. For us the question is a completely different one. Are we going to play (in the mini car segment) by extending the life cycle of the Nano making it electric or bringing significant changes to the Nano or possibly redefine ourselves in this particular segment,” said Butschek.

In its current form, it is unlikely that the Nano will meet the stricter vehicle norms of the future including emission and crash safety. The company, which is putting its might behind returning to profits by cutting frivolous costs and regaining lost market share, has shown its unwillingness to upgrade the car either.

Last month, the Nano reported sales of just 62, its worst ever monthly wholesale figure since its debut, which happened at the Auto Expo exactly 10 years ago.

“We have decided that all future vehicles are going to be based on the new architectures. We questioned them (Jayem Auto) yesterday and formally introduced them to the Alpha Arc and Omega Arc. There is a significant space left below the 3.7 meters for individual and ride hailing mobility of the future. What we are currently discussing is how are we going to play in this space”, added Butschek.

“No announcements on the (future) of the Nano has been made because we first decided the product portfolio before we take decisions on individual products”, added Butschek.

Tata Motors believes that questions like body type, powertrain, architecture, top heads required need to be addressed. In addition the future holds the promise for smarter mobility including electrified and fully electric product solutions. For instance both 45X and H5X can accommodate electric solutions in the future. “We believe we need battery electric as an absolute must for the urban environment but do you need wings to possibly stretch in the rural areas where you perhaps need low displacement, internal combustion engines in order to cover a larger range of the market. We are in the midst of this discussion," added Butschek.
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