Tata Motors is pulling out all the stops in its turnaround drive with its Alfa (agile light flexible advanced) and Omega (optimal modular efficient global advanced) platforms.
From the company’s point of view, the investment/effort to build a platform factor in a substantial timeframe. “We would like to keep the architecture relevant for not less than 10 years,” Rajendra Petkar, President & CTO, Tata Motors told Autocar Professional.
According to him, consumer preferences, technology trends and evolving manufacturing practices also determine the longevity of a vehicle platform. Sometimes, even though a vehicle architecture was capable of delivering “multiple top hats”, it could still have to be discontinued if market movements rendered it dated.
While Alfa houses the compact vehicles, the bigger ones like the Harrier and Safari sit on the Omega platform. These models are particularly important at a time when SUVs are dominating the landscape like never before.
“I think this tells us how the Indian market is evolving from the time of hatchbacks and compact sedans to SUVs,” added Petkar. The concept of joint families in some parts of the country coupled with the growing trend of friends travelling tougher is fuelling the demand for seven-seater SUVs/MPVs.
As for the growing preference towards petrol, he said diesel still had “room in the market” as this shift was being mainly driven by the difference in costs. “It is all operational economics and nothing to do with technology. We have received very good feedback both for the Altroz and Nexon diesel and are not worried,” said Petkar.
There is of course the added concern of both fuels seeing constant price hikes for many months now with the result that they are now at record high levels. In his view, this could indirectly enhance the value proposition of diesel SUVs since some customers “might look at fuel economy” and this is where “diesel will be more economical than petrol.”
When the next stage of BS VI emission norms kick in during 2022-23, there will be another price hike for vehicles and this will pinch more in the case of diesel versions with OEMs investing in more technology. CAFE II norms will be the other significant challenge.
Petkar said he was hopeful of diesel vehicles still remaining relevant in India. “If you look at what is happening in Europe, diesels have not died in this car category. Their share might have gone down but they are still there,” he added.