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Tatas' Rs 1-lakh car to be gearless

Source: PTI
August 31, 2005 18:05 IST
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Identifying the automobile sector as a growth area, Tata Group is confident of launching in less than three years, a proper 'inexpensive' people's car with a price tag of 1 lakh (Rs 100,000) -- or $2,275 -- that group chairman Ratan Tata says will be a 'gearless' vehicle, powered by a rear engine.

Undeterred by scepticism from industry rivals, including Suzuki Motor Corporation that such a car may not be feasible for Rs 1 lakh, Tata exuded confidence that the launch would be the only answer from him.

"I hope so. Just like people ate their words on Indica, they would realise that there is something (Rs 1-lakh car) that can be done," Tata told PTI on whether the launch would be an answer to the sceptics.

Along with Indica, the new Rs 1-lakh car, whose prototypes are presently doing test run without a body, would be the growth focus for Tata Motors in the medium term in the automobile sector, in which the group could invest up to Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) in the next few years.

Without giving any investment or financial details of the group's automobile programme, Tata said the products from Daewoo's commercial vehicle facility in South Korea, acquired by the group last year for Rs 465 crore (Rs 4.65 billion), would be introduced in the Indian market during the current year itself.

Tata said the proposed Rs 1-lakh car would be a vehicle that "will seat four to five people and have a rear engine. It will not be a scooter, three-wheeler or an auto-rickshaw made into a car."

"It will also not be a stripped down car. It will be an inexpensive car," he said, but added that it would obviously not have the finish or the high speed or the power of a larger car.

Tata said the new vehicle would be a 'compact car' and would be a reality in less than three years.

On the technology used for the new vehicle, he said: "We have gone to Delphi for the engine management system as in India there is no electronic engine management system available."

Tata said the car would have the 'continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology, which means without gear changing.' For the CVT also, he said: "We have gone somewhere else, because we have no experience."

Commenting on the styling front, he said the company had taken help from the Italian design house, IDEA, which worked with Tata Motors on Indica.

Tata said in order to keep the development cost under check, he had discouraged his 'people from reinventing the wheel constantly, because that is wasteful.'

He, however, said Tatas might consider developing the next generation CVT on its own.

"We may go to the next generation CVT ourselves, but the first let us buy. If there are suppliers outside, we will import from them. So, for only those specific areas -- either a product or a technology -- where we need help will we go to someone," he said.

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