Ratan TATA had a dream to offer millions a car as a substitute to two-wheelers. This lead to the emergence of the now famous one-lakh car concept. A decade after starting the project, Tata Motros is on the verge of launching the so called “chairman’s parting present to the Indian auto industry.”
The criterion was simple. A remarkably low cost car which had to be four door, cheap to run and would be produced in several parts of the country. The first incarnation of this car was unveiled way back at the 1998 Auto expo and was christened “zing”. We believed it is this particular car from which the essential DNA for the One-Lakh Rupee Car (OLRC) has been taken. The zing itself if it was the starting point has undergone millions of permutations and combinations to see it emerging as potential best-seller when launched next year as the OLRC.
Beginning with the styling, this car could be best described as funky. Starting from the zing DNA which was modeled on the smart and looked much like the DaimlerChrysler micro-mini, the car is now quite evolved. The OLRC now sports a sleek, but not quite blunt (aka Smart) front end which is reminiscent of the recently launched Zen Estilo. However, thanks to the engine being lodged in the boot, designers have been able to achieve quite a sharp rake for the bonnet, – which adds to the interior space. However, there is no space up front for a boot as it is in most rear engined cars. The sharp rake means that whatever space was available is now being use inside the cabin. Headlamps would be incorporated on the bonnet and won’t be wraparound types like the one shown way back on the zing. A smiling grille, which is fast becoming the company’s corporate identity, would adorn the bonnet line. The rounded bumper is sure to come as a boon in current traffic conditions. The grille extends to the bumper with recesses serving the purpose of indicators. At the rear, tail lights similar to those found in the Indicab have been used giving the OLRC a premium feel. The general consenses is that the OLRC will not look of feel as downmarket as the Ace but will have better levels of fit and finish and better materials will be used.
That the engine is at the rear has been clearly established. And there will be vary little space behind the rear seatback and the rear hatch. So language carrying space will be at a premium and will be one of the main drawback of the OLRC. The rear hatch will provide access to the engine with will be below the rear seat. Thus open the hatch, fold over the rear seat and you get access to the two-cylinder engine. The folder over rear seat would provide the only serious luggage carrying capability to the OLRC.
Tata Motors is banking on rather small engines to power this car. However considering its diminutive dimension, it might be wrong to call it under powered. Two engine option are in the offing, a 660cc 2-cylinder petrol and 700cc diesel. While the petrol version will be out first, the diesel will soon follow suit. The diesel would be a two-cylinder engines. Though there has been no confirmation on this by either company, the is a high likelihood that the OLRC would be the first to see the two cylinder common rail. Sure, these will be the smallest internal combustion option in India. But the frugality of this engine will give quite a few two wheelers run fir their money. According to sources, the petrol version registered fuel efficiency in the region of 26kmpl in the internal Tata tests. However the company is gunning for 30kmpl..!! So it wouldn’t be wrong to anticipate a figure in the region of 24kmpl in the real world. If the petrol version is so fuel efficient, wonder what the diesel will offer??
For the passenger though, there is some good and some bad news as well. On the side, things get rather small, and the two doors on each side look tiny, specially the rear ones. However they offer comfortable ingress/egress considering the height of the car. Considering the size and dimensions of the car and that the engine sits under the rear seat, inside space should be at a premium making. However upfront it is not all that bad with comfortable seating for two large size adults. It is at the rear that things could get a little tricky, making the rear seat out of bounds for large adults. However smaller sized adults and children should be comfortable enough.
Amenities too would be bare basic. The instrument console for instance would have speedo, odo and fuel gauge only.
However don’t expect the car to be smooth as silk. Ratan Tata some years back had been quoted saying, “It would be all right for the car to be a bit more noisy then an ordinary car.” One thing is certain: this is primarily a city car and would be out of plave on highway.
Tata Motors haas also finalized component suppliers. While Bosch is supplying the alternatiors, brakes and both petrol and diesel engine management system, Lumax will supply lights, Sona Koyo and Rane will put in the steering and Shriram Pistons will supply piston for the engine. Ricoh Auto will add the clutch. Wheels would be borrowed from the Tata Ace.
The concept of satellite plants however surprising, remains. The car will be sent out to dealers in knocked down condition and will be assembled there. So even here cost can be kept under control but quality control at the dealers’s and might remains one of the biggest challenges,
Filed under: PENGETAHUAN