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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Ultra cheap cars are often a tough proposition, as Tata knows only too well following the original Nano, which failed to meet expectations. Nonetheless, the Indian conglomerate is pushing forward with plans for the future, which could include another tiny city car, inspired by this, the Megapixel concept.
It might not come equipped with a digital Camera, but the MegaPixel does boast some interesting technological features, including easy access sliding doors, a lithium ion battery pack and four electric motors (one for each wheel), supplemented by a small 325 cc on-board gasoline generator that extends range beyond 54 miles.
The electric motors not only help deliver 369 lb-ft of torque, they also help the Megapixel achieve a very tight turning radius (nine feet), a valuable asset for a city car aimed at buyers in large urban centers. Whether some of the technologies employed on this pint size concept make it to production remains to be seen, especially on car pitched at very low price.
Nonetheless, given the advancement of automotive engineering and Tata’s ambitious plans (after all it’s pumping a lot of effort into Jaguar and Land Rover), there’s every indication that when it finally does arrive, the next generation of the company’s entry-level car will likely be far better than the last.
GALLERY: 2013 Tata Megapixel
The Tata Nano was supposed to be a cheap, simple car built for the people, but so far it has caused nothing but problems for the Indian automaker.
First it was an electrical issue that caused the Nano to catch fire which was the catalyst for a recall of 70,000 Nano’s. Now a faulty starter motor that the manufacturer says needs to be replaced is plauging the Nano.
Tata says that this recall is not actually a recall at all, as it was not spurred by customer complaints, but rather by Tata engineers designing a better starter which they feel all early model Nano’s should utilize. The recall will affect over 140,000 vehicles and is the largest recall in Tata’s history.
The world’s least expensive car, the Tata Nano’s original purpose in design was to be a modern Ford Model-T, mobilizing millions of families in India.
Despite the Nano’s noble intentions, only 1,200 examples were sold in the month of September when initial projections expected a rather optimistic 20,000 vehicles per month. A new approach may be the remedy and that’s exactly what Tata hopes to achieve with its new Nano commercial.
Targeting India’s young, active, and likable college students, the ad features American idioms sprinkled throughout that frankly sound a little contrived.
The Nano boasts a passenger space increase of 21 percent. Tata also shows off the Nano’s acceleration (good for passing trucks on Indian highways) as well as ride quality and ground clearance capable of fording a spring creek. The Nano’s A/C is so strong that one buddy decides to hibernate, allowing everyone else to enjoy a popular college pastime that involves black markers and camera phones. Finally, the twisty and mountainous roads to the weekend getaway help to demonstrate Nano’s best-in-India 25 km/liter petrol mileage as well as its short turning radius.
See the commercial for yourself after the jump
Renault is in development of an ultra low-cost vehicle, along the lines of the Tata Nano. While the Nano is currently suffering from some awful sales numbers (initial projection of 20,000 a month but only saw 1,200 units sold in September), CEO of Renault/Nissan Carlos Ghosn is convinced that an extremely affordable vehicle would be a good segment for Renault to venture into when approaching emerging markets.
According to reports from La Tribune, Gérard Detourbet, the head of Renault’s low-cost division, will be responsible in developing an engine and platform for a vehicle next year that will have a starting price of 2,500€ ($3,300). While Renault is already offering multiple low-cost vehicles in Brazil, it is possible that the new car will not wear a Renault badge, but the badge of sub-brand Dacia (seen above) instead.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Tata Sons has named Cyrus Mistry as its next CEO, as current CEO Ratan Tata prepares to retire. The unmarried, childless Tata named Mistry as CEO of the holding company responsible for Tata’s numerous divisions, among them their automotive sector which owns Jaguar and Land Rover, along with the namesake Tata Motors brand.
“The appointment of Cyrus P. Mistry as deputy chairman of Tata Sons is a good and far-sighted choice. He has been on the board of Tata Sons since August 2006 and I have been impressed with the quality and caliber of his participation, his astute observations and his humility,” said Tata, in a statement.
Mistry’s father is Tata’s largest individual shareholder, with an 18 percent stake in the Indian conglomerate. He is currently head of another Indian corporation, the Shapoorji Pallonji group, and will assume full responsibilities in December, 2012 when Tata steps down.
[Source: Automotive News]
The world’s cheapest vehicle has just gotten a whole lot (little bit?) better, with Tata announcing a batch of upgrades for their economical Nano. The 624-cc engine now makes a ferocious 37.5-hp, giving it a max speed of 65-mph.
In addition to the performance increase, the Nano also got its suspension reworked which included a new anti-roll bar in the front and a redesigned steering mechanism. The biggest improvement though is that the Nano Standard now comes with power-assisted brakes. Prior to this refresh, power-assisted brakes were only offered on some of Nano’s more luxurious models.
On the inside, buyers have a trio of colors to choose from for interior trim – beige, black and gray while the exterior colors have expanded to a portfolio of 10 choices. Those 10 colors are worth mentioning just for their names: Pearl White, Rouge Red, Aqua Blue, Neon Rush, Serene White, Meteor Silver, Mojito Green, Papaya Orange, Sunshine Yellow and Champagne Gold.
Hopefully these will help increase Tata’s Nano sales. They originally projected (or rather, hoped) to sell around 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles a month but saw only 1,200 leave dealer lots in September. Maybe it’s not paying off to be the world’s cheapest vehicle.
Tata Motors, the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, is suffering from slumping sales as the first-quarter profits are released. Tata’s Indian passenger car sales fell and Jaguar deliveries have also decreased. Surprisingly, however, Tata’s net income rose to twenty billion rupees in the three months ending on June 30th. This is up from 19.9 billion rupees a year earlier, but misses expectations.
Tata Motors confirmed an 8.5 percent decrease in Indian passenger car sales during the quarter caused by rising interest rates. The rising interest rates reduced demand throughout the country where eighty percent of purchases are funded by loans. Jaguar sales were down twenty-seven percent in the period cause by a sparse lineup and limited presence in the booming Chinese market.
[Source: Automotive News]
India sure knows how to do small (and cute) right. So you wouldn’t normally describe a truck as “cute,” but in the case of Tata’s Magic Iris and Ace Zip, we think you’ll agree that it’s okay this one time.
Green and inexpensive, these mini trucks are designed for “deep penetration goods movement.” Made from safe steel, they come equipped with 12-inch micro tires, a turning radius of 3.5 meters, and a 611-cc water-cooled engine that puts out 11 horsepower.
To get the job done, the Ace Zip pickup truck as a payload is 600 kg. According to Tata, it also features “a sleek steering wheel, comfortable seats and a roomy cabin, ensuring that the driver has a fatigue free experience, resulting in higher productivity and a significantly superior earning opportunity for the operator.”
The Magic Iris covered truck can seat three to four people, and both trucks come with a 36,000-km or 12-month warranty.
Would you buy a Magic Iris or an Ace Zip? Let us know in the comment section below.
Jaguar has plans to change its badging and drop the brand name from appearing on the lineup of luxury vehicles. The word ‘Jaguar’ will soon be replaced from the back of production cars within two or three years, the firm’s design boss confirmed. ”Eventually we will take the name off and just leave the leaper,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director.
“When people see the XF they won’t know what it is, so they will look for a name badge. That’s why we’ve left it on, but put the leaper there as well. The name will go probably on production cars within two or three years.”
The traditional text-based badge will be replaced leaving the prominent Jaguar big cat leaper. The plan is to faze out the text badge, and with exposure to the leaper badge, people will become familiar over time and not need to locate the text badge on the back to identify the brand.
Parent company Tata is serious about their British crowns. Over the next 5 years, they will inject 8.2 billion dollars into making sure that Jaguar and Land Rover are not only afloat, but good enough to beat the Germans.
A sizeable chunk of that money will go towards new equipment for the brands’ three manufacturing facilities in England. Some of it could also go towards a new manufacturing facility in China, as previously rumored. And $1.25 billion of that will go towards engine manufacturing, so Jaguar and Land Rover can finally break off ties with ex-owner Ford.
Overall, Tata plans to improve quality and introduce new, fuel-efficient engine technologies during the next five years—all the better to face Audi and BMW.
[Source: Road and Track]
Jaguar has slowly been releasing details of their new products expected to debut in the next few years, and each leak makes us more excited for what’s in store.
The new SUV is expected to help bulk up the brand’s total sales and take on cars like the Range Rover Sport, BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Unlike some of the more rugged offerings in the segment, the Jaguar will use the brand’s aluminum spaceframe construction, and be oriented towards on-road performance. The main challenge will be keeping it from cannibalizing sales from Land Rover, and the two will undoubtedly share hardware to keep costs down.
Jaguar is also planning a new sports car positioned below their XK grand tourer, said to evoke the iconic E-Type of the 1960′s, while also avoiding competition with the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK. The new sports car will be out around the same time as Jaguar’s new small sedan and the all-wheel drive XJ sedan .
[Source: Inside Line]
That certainly helped push sales, with Tata selling 9000 units in July 2010. However, after a few vehicles caught fire and concerns over its safety became public, sales took a plunge and resulted in just 509 units sold in November.
Now it seems Tata has addressed the safety and reliability concerns for its city runabout, and along with good finance deals to tempt more people into their showrooms, Tata is now doubling production to met demand. Their hope is to sell 20,000 units per-month for the next fiscal year. Only time will tell if their plan works out.
There are no plans for a North American launch anytime soon.
Remember the Tata Pixel concept at Geneva? If not, this link should help refresh your memory…or, you can wait until your next European vacation, where you’ll be seeing the tiny little Pixel on the streets.
Tata Motors has green-lit the Pixel for production and sale in Europe, replacing the previously-planned Nano Europa, which was just an upscale and alloy-wheeled version of their cheap-as-chips Nano. The production version will lose the chintzy scissor doors and electronic gauges, but will retain the rear-mounted 1.2-liter diesel, five-speed gearbox, and sub-10-feet dimensions.
A production date has not been announced, but this news from Tata shows that they are eager to push it through quickly.
If the maker of the world’s cheapest car does move ahead with plans to sell it here in the U.S., the sticker price won’t be the $2,000 figure that the car retails for in its home market of India.
Instead, says Tata Motors chairman, Ratan Tata, the Nano city car would likely range between $7,000 and $8,000. Tata made the comments recently at an event held at Cornell University, where he is an alumnus.
The reason for the higher price, says Tata, is that the car, “…will still be, in comparative terms, a car that the U.S. would accept.” In other words, it will have far more equipment than the base $2,000 Nano, which doesn’t even come with heat or air conditioning.
Previously, Tata had said the company would have the Nano on sale in the U.S. by 2012.
Tata has been trying to dip its toe into the wild, wacky world of the European automobile market ever since they released their $2,500 Nano supermini. They made an attempt at appeasing discerning European customers with the Nano Europa, an “upscale” Nano with alloy wheels, power steering, and an extra cylinder (bringing the total to three).
But the Pixel, shown at Geneva, is Tata’s most dedicated effort yet. A slick, white little egg, the Pixel is only 10 feet long but can still seat four, who enter through upward-opening scissor doors. The small size enables the Pixel to turn within its own space – it rotates the rear wheels in separate directions, thanks to what Tata calls a “Zero Turn toroidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission,” whatever that means. Result: its manuverability in parking is perfectly matched for the city streets of Europe.
Inside, the Pixel features smartphone connectivity through “My Tata Connect,” which allows the driver to control the car’s functions from his phone. And the driver will be in control of a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbodiesel engine that is expected to return more than 60 miles per gallon.
If Tata is serious about selling the Nano in Europe, and eventually America, then the Pixel indicates the direction they’re planning to take their next small car.
[Sources: Autoblog, Tata]
While nothing is certain at this stage, what’s clear is that Jaguar and Land Rover are two internationally-recognized brands that do not have any manufacturing presence in China, one of the world’s largest markets and a major source of sales for the two brands. Meanwhile, competitors Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have all found partners in China, leaving parent company Tata Motors alone at the prom.
“The two companies are exploring opportunities for a cooperative effort. Senior executives of Jaguar and Land Rover came over and visited our plant earlier this month,” said the executives. “It’s fair to say that contacts between the two parties have already passed the initial stage, but no final decision has been reached so far.”
After Jaguar and Land Rover lost money during their messy sale to Tata, the Chinese market helped turn them around to the tune of approx. $434 million in profits in the last quarters of 2008. The market was the fastest-growing for the company in 2010, with a staggering increase of 95 percent. With these results, it’s only logical that Jaguar and Land Rover will seek to solidify their growth in the Chinese luxury segment while Great Wall builds mass-produced sedans and trucks.
[Sources: Automotive News, Reuters]
Five consecutive quarters of being “in the black” has paid off for Jaguar Land Rover. The luxury automaker is set to make over a billion pounds in profit ($1.6 billion) after strong sales around the world, especially in Asia.
In the last three months of 2010, the company netted a record profit of $440 million. Just a year ago, in the same quarter, Jaguar Land Rover made “only” $88 million. In America the company announced a 48% and 16% increase in growth for Jaguar and Land Rover, respectively. It’s also been a long time since 2009, when JLR was nearly forced to seek a bailout from the U.K. government. This impressive increase reflects the turnaround that the company has made since it was sold off by Ford to Tata Motors; think Alan Mulally is kicking himself over in Dearborn?
To reflect this growth and keep its momentum, JLR will increase production from 232,000 vehicles a year to over 300,000, as well as hire new engineers around the world.
[Source: The Telegraph]
Earlier this week both the United Kingdom and China signed business deals reported to be worth around 2.6 billion pounds ($4 billion). A part of those deals included arrangements to sell more Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in China.
Jaguar Land Rover, which is currently a unit of the Indian conglomerate Tata Corp, has committed to sell around 40,000 vehicles in the world’s largest auto market, in a deal alone worth 1 billion pounds ($1.53 billion).
The deals were signed after a visit to Britain by China’s vice premier Li Keqiang. Other large deals were also announced following the VP’s visits to Spain and Germany.
The Jaguar Land Rover deal, according to that firm’s CEO Ralf Speth, “not only signals the acceleration of our growth plans but also reflects both the importance of the Chinese market to Jaguar Land Rover and our value to the UK economy.”
Jaguar-Land Rover currently has three manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom, one in Halewood, Liverpool (a former Ford factory) and two in the West Midlands, Castle Bromwich and Solihull.
The current British Government , despite enacting austerity measures to stimulate economic recovery, including major slashes in public spending, hopes that the China deal will help spur growth at home.
Despite being hailed as the vehicle that would motorize a billion-strong economic powerhouse, the Tata Nano has turned out to be a spectacular flop, with November sales totalling just 509 units, from a peak of 9,000 units in July. For comparison, Mercedes-Benz cars, far beyond the reach of a majority of India’s population, regularly sells over 500 cars a month.
Quality problems have dogged the Nano, and are blamed for the disastrous sales decline. Numerous Nanos have gone up in flames, prompting Indian consumers to stay away for the $2,257 car. Despite the Nano’s troubles, parent company Tata motors has had a phenomenal financial year, with a 100-fold increase in profit and a share price increase of 78%.
[Source: Economic Times]
Rumors have been circulating that Jaguar is going to bring a new concept to the Paris Auto Show, dubbed the C-X75 – and that’s all the information we have.
Despite a supposed rollout of new product, including a small sports car and a BMW 3-Series rival, the C-X75 will be a design study first and foremost, showcasing the new themes and design languages that will be present on future Jag’s. Other rumors have indicated that this model will eventually morph into a new entry level roadster model, designed to compete with the Porsche Boxster and help the British automaker meet increasingly strict emissions regulations.
Check out our Paris Auto Show page for coverage of the Jaguar C-X75′s unveiling this Thursday, September 30th.
Land Rover‘s new Range Rover Evoque two-door SUV is on a publicity blitz ahead of its deubt at the Paris Auto Show, and details are begging to emerge.
Rather than the usual 8-cylinder powerplant, the Evoque will use a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder, dubbed the Si4, which makes 240 horsepower. Land Rover will likely have to resort to some creative marketing to sell customers on the idea of a 4-cylinder, even if it’s likely more than adequate for urban driving.
A 2.2L turbodiesel has also been announced, but power figures haven’t been announced yet beyond the 187 horsepower number. The torque figures will be far more important, and expect this engine to be sold in most of the Evoque’s 160 world markets, but not the United States.
Gallery: Range Rover Evoque
[Source: Land Rover]
Tata’s Nano city car is being investigated for a series of fires in India related to the car. A Tate spokesman said that the company was “conducting a probe” into the matter.
The Nano, which costs about $2,500, is billed as the world’s cheapest car. Initial reports of fires were said to be unrelated incidents, but further reports of smoke in the cars spurred a switch in ignition suppliers. Tata is asking Nano owners to have their vehicles checked at dealerships “to allay owners’ concerns”.
The Nano is a pivotal car for Tata Motors, and India itself, as an increasingly wealthy middle class looks to move from two-wheeled transportation into a proper car.
[Source: The National Post]