Tata Motors today launched its new performance sub-brand 'TAMO', which will act as a hotbed for future technologies for the group or an incubator as the company puts it across. First things first, TAMO is nothing similar to the Nexa and vehicles developed and sold by the sub-brand TAMO will be sold through the existing retail chain of the company. TAMO will debut its first vehicle ahead of the Geneva Motor Show on 7th March, 2017. Interestingly, the new car isn't going to be yet another hatchback but a two-seater sportscar, which will be known as the Futura. Made out of light and innovative materials, this car is expected to have a more powerful 1.2 litre Revotron motor with close to 180 hp on tap. Although, the figures may not suggest blistering performance, a kerb weight around the 700 kg mark should give it a good power-to-weight ratio and impressive performance in turn apart from good fuel-efficiency.
One has to give it to Tata Motors for having the courage to dream and imagine. Be it the Nano, Indica, Safari and now the Futura. That the Nano bombed and is today considered an example of how marketing shouldn't be done is another thing but not all carmakers have the guts to execute their dreams. Now let's take a look at the whole TAMO concept and what it aims to achieve.
The TAMO Concept
TAMO will operate as a different vertical in the group and will follow a low volume, low investment model to speed up technology development and testing. As a result, TAMO will be able to turn concept vehicles into production models at a quicker pace and lower cost. While the latter is a key requirement for every carmaker today, the former is critical for Tata Motors if it wants to achieve a dominant spot across various vehicular segments.
While the talk sounds rosy, it is padded up by actionable strategy as well in the form of a smart platform strategy. Instead of the six vehicle platforms being used by Tata Motors presently, TAMO will use only two. One of these modular platforms is designated as Advanced Modular Platform (AMP), which will have the capability to churn out vehicles ranging from a hatchback to a sedan and from an SUV to a sports car. How would they do it? Well, the keyword is modularity of a platform, which allows for a car to have different length, wheelbase, height and body panels, while retaining the crucial frame geometry and critical mechanical and electrical parts. Common usage of these parts means more bargaining power for the company with its supplier and hence lower cost. Using same under the skin parts also means lesser parts to develop ground-up and hence faster development.
Another interesting thing about TAMO is the fact that the sub-brand will work on an open platform architecture, similar to Android. This will enable TAMO to work with technology suppliers across the globe and integrate their solutions at a rapid pace in its own range of vehicles. Since technologies developed by the Tata sub-brand will also be used for the cars of Tata Motors, this approach becomes even more important. In coming years, companies like Google and Apple will be the drivers of innovation in the automotive sector as consumer demand for connectivity goes up. Having an open platform approach will make it easy for TAMO to take an existing solution from such companies and customise it quickly to match their hardware and offer the consumer the desired functionality much ahead of the traditional development cycle.
Tata Motors intends to be one of the top three vehicle makers in the country by 2019, and TAMO will play an important role in the same. The reason is simple because every few months the product life cycles of vehicles are shrinking at an accelerated rate. In order to expand reach and sales, pace to market will need to be high and frequent and rate to market will need to be low. Using just two modular platforms and an open architecture approach hence, is the right way forward for sure for any vehicle maker today.
Not that easy though!
With all the good things said and done, the journey isn't going to be that easy for Tata Motors and TAMO. Tata Motors for long has been trying to execute a brand makeover and getting rid of the quality perceptions from the past. TAMO being the technology-led performance brand will have to bear that weight on its shoulders. In a market as ruthless as India, where brand loyalty and perceptions are little known, this definitely isn't a light weight to carry.
We've seen in the past how the Nano despite being a good product failed to entice consumers as the brand perception went south in its early days. The Tiago and Hexa have done a good job of kickstarting that change but flop products is not a luxury Tata Motors can afford anymore today. TAMO hence, will have to ensure it stays ahead of the technology curve in the market because winning trust needs something disruptive to get noticed and then it needs to perform consistently to generate sustainability. The Futura seems to have the disruption part covered well and I just hope the latter too is covered well as deep down any Indian would be happy to see an indigenous sportscar receiving accolades from all over.