With the exception of Tesla, perhaps no other major carmaker designs cars that look like futuristic concepts. You can add Tata Motors to the list. The Harrier, launched in early 2019, looks a lot similar to the H5X concept showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. But there is much more to the Harrier than merely a striking design. This flagship Tata SUV has a lot in common with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) vehicles such as the Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar E-Pace—because all share a common architecture. While these JLR vehicles are developed on the D8 platform, the Harrier is developed on the OMEGARC, short for Optimal Modular Efficient Global Architecture, which is an adaptation of the D8 (Tata Motors had acquired JLR in 2008).
“When the Harrier was being developed,” says Rajendra Petkar, president & CTO, Tata Motors, “the D8 platform was found to be the most suitable for the Indian market. So, it was adapted into the OMEGARC, which is a modular platform and can deliver multiple body types.” On the OMEGARC, vehicles between the length of 4.3 metres and 4.8 metres can be developed; this implies that future large-size SUVs such as the Gravitas (seven-seat version of five-seat Harrier) will be developed on the OMEGARC. Prior to the OMEGARC, most crossovers and SUVs made by Tata Motors were developed body-on-frame—a construction method in which a separate body is mounted on a rigid vehicle frame or chassis.
In addition to modularity, a major advantage of the OMEGARC is the reduction in vehicle weight. Petkar says that if an SUV of the proportions of the Harrier was developed body-on-frame, it could have been at least 300-kg heavier. But its benefits, Petkar adds, go beyond mere reduced development costs and time-to-market.“Vehicles developed on the OMEGARC offer enhanced driving dynamics with a long wheelbase and wide track for greater ride comfort and linear stability. It also benefits from the strategic use of structural adhesives at high-stress points on the body and extensive use of high-strength steel for greater rigidity. The front sub-frame structure uses four-point bushing mounts for improved comfort and reduced road-noise,” he says.
But the OMEGARC isn’t only platform Tata Motors has—last year, it developed the Agile Light Flexible Advanced (ALFA) architecture, on which the Altroz premium hatchback has been created, and which could possibly be used to develop a premium sedan as well. The ALFA architecture s being employed to develop vehicles shorter than 4.3 metres in length. “These two architectures are the backbone of our future products,” says Petkar. “Having said that, we also have other platforms on which we manufacture the Tiago, the Tigor and the Nexon; these are quite capable platforms and we are likely to continue with these.” Petkar says both the OMEGARC and the ALFA can support the development of born-electric vehicles, such as the all-new Sierra electric concept showcased at the Delhi Auto Expo 2020. “While we have turned Tigor and Nexon electric, if and when Tata develops a ‘born-electric’ vehicle, it could possibly be developed either on the ALFA or the OMEGARC, depending on the size of the vehicle,” he adds.