India’s largest truck maker, Tata Motors Ltd, plans to launch a crossover vehicle, as it attempts to widen its portfolio of offerings, which includes passenger cars, including the world’s cheapest— the Tata Nano —and utility vehicles, say people familiar with the situation, who did not wish to be identified.
The crossover will take on competition from established products such as Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd’s Innova and General Motors India Pvt. Ltd’s Chevrolet Tavera.
Crossover platform? Tata Xover, a concept vehicle that Tata Motors unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005.
In March 2005, the company had unveiled Tata Xover, a crossover concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor show; the vehicle was a seven-seater with a new generation engine, navigation system, anti-lock braking system and air bags, among other things. The company had at that point said that the vehicle would be designed and engineered for markets in Europe, but there have been no further announcements on the project since then. It is not clear if the new crossover, which will be made at Pune, is the one that was unveiled at the Geneva show.
Two vendors close to the development and a Tata Motors executive involved in the crossover project independently said the new vehicle, which will combine the comforts of a luxury car with the features of a sports utility vehicle, is being designed in collaboration with the London-based Tata Motors European Technical Centre Plc., which works on products and areas such as engines, manufacturing and production systems.
“About 50% of the vendors have already been frozen for the model and the rest will be tied up in the next few weeks,” said the executive, who did not wish to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“Plans are to start trial production of the crossover in June-July and start commercial production for launch in October- November,” one vendor familiar with the situation said. He asked not to be identified because it would jeopardize his relationship with Tata Motors.
“The company, as per policy, does not share information on future product launches,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson.
The Indian market for crossovers has grown in the past few years, partly in tandem with the boom in call centres and outsourcing jobs. Vehicles such as the Tavera and Innova are often seen criss-crossing Indian roads late at night, transporting call centre workers to and from offices. For instance, Toyota has sold 132,045 units of the Innova since its launch in 2005. Tata Motors has thus far remained absent from this segment.
The planned crossover will be manufactured at Tata Motors’ Pune manufacturing facility, where the company is currently in the process of creating space for the new project by shifting out production of its light-truck Ace and people-carrier Magic to its factory at Pant Nagar in Uttarakhand.
“The Pune plant, where the company is investing about Rs6,000 crore over a period of five years, will be concentrating on passenger vehicles, pick-ups and light commercial vehicles,” the company spokesperson said.