LEARNING CENTRE – ERC
S M Sharangpani
© TATA Motors Ltd.
He started off designing a small engine that woulddeliver 20 bhp, but realised midway that it wouldnot be enough. So he increased the engine’s capacityto 554 cc, which delivered 27 bhp. The engine stilldid not have enough zing and its driveability wasnot satisfactory. So, Jain redesigned the engine andincreased its capacity to 586 cc. That appeared to bepeppy enough and satisfy all parameters. The team,swelling in number as new tasks were incorporatedand specialists taken on, was working to meet threeparameters — acceptable cost, acceptableperformance and regulatory compliance, not onlycurrent but also future.While Tata engineers worked on the engineering of the car, Italian design house I.D.E.A., which alsodesigned the Indica, was chartered with styling. Guided by RNT, the styling kept changing.Though in an interview with BW, RNT underplayed his own role in the design, Wagh says hewas intimately involved in the styling and made some alterations even a few days before thelaunch.
“Mr Tata was present at every testing and he made all the decisions,” Waghsays. “He was very focused on what the customerwould like’’.
THE IDEA STAGE: (Left) An earlyvehicle layout for the occupants, and (right) the sideview rendering of Nanoduring its design phase
In December 2005, the second mule was tested, andby mid-2006, the first prototype or alpha was ready.After testing the prototype, which ran on the 586-ccengine, the team found the vehicle wanting.
“Wefelt it needed to be longer,” Wagh says. “RNTwanted changes in styling, which meant changesin body design, which increased safety performance.” It was decided to increase thelength by 100 mm. It meant redoing everything that was done until then. The team wasback at the drawing board.Beat but Not Beaten
That the project did not have any specifications, and was never tried before, worked both inits favour as well as against. With only three parameters to guide them, the engineers keptcoming up against failures. Jain says the biggest support from the management was not tohold a failure against anyone. “The hardest part was continuing to believe we could do it,’’RNT said. “I never felt the project won’t go through. I was scared I won’t meet targets —price targets, time targets, the auto expo…’’
Bolar says that since there was no precedent to the project, everybody had a number of concepts. “The management remained open, but the most challenging task was to definethe specs,” he says. The Maruti 800 was the only benchmark to go by. And it cost morethan Rs 2 lakh on the road.