A visit to the Tata Motors Design Studio Pune

A visit to the Tata Motors Design Studio Pune New Tata Tiago
author image Desirazu Venkat
Monday 20 June 2016, 18:16 PM
Global design team for the Tata Tiago

Introduction
Design is one of the most important aspects of a car today. It is after all the first thing the catches your attention when you look at a vehicle and should be the thing that makes you want to walk up close and examine it in detail. It is no surprise then that manufacturers spend a considerable amount of money in running a design studio.
We recently got the chance to see Tata Motor’s Pune studio in action. Now on such occasions, I’m not one to be awed by my surroundings but this turned to be quite special as less than 100 of the 24,000 workforce at the Tata plant had actually been inside the studio.

Tata Kite 4

Facilities and People
Our journey began when we were directed to a conference room among four different models of the Tiago and were given a briefing on the art of car design by Pratap Bose, the head of design for Tata Motors.
This is one of the three facilities operated by the manufacturer with the other two being in Italy and the UK. It is also the largest of the three as it is directly connected to the plant where the cars are actually manufactured. He also introduced us to his global team of Tony Hunter, Graham Gest, Sandeep Karyakarte, Salil Kulkarni and Shilpa Bandyopadhyay all responsible for designing the Tiago.

Tata Tiago sketches
Tata Tiago sketches

IMpacted!
He spoke about Tata’s new IMPACT design philosophy seen on the Tiago hatchback. This comprises two major elements Immediate IMPACT at first sight and lasting IMPACT over time. Going ahead, it comprises two components exteriors - Exciting, EXpressive, EXtraordinary and interiors - INviting, INtelligent, INtouch.

Digtal rendering Tata Tiago
Digtal rendering Tata Tiago

A Tiago is conceived
However, the real deal began when he showed us the evolution of the Tiago. It began as an A-segment project and is now one of their best selling cars. Pratap said that for the car to succeed, Tata had to reach out to demographics like younger buyers as well as women; groups that had previously avoided Tata’s vehicles. Simply put by Pratap, ‘If you want a bigger share of the pie, then you have to make your products appeal to a wider audience’.

Tata Tiago clay model
Tata Tiago clay model

The first thing that we saw were the concept sketches for the Tiago. These were the initial designs and were a broad outline on which the concept cars were created. From them a more realistic version of the car was derived and then modelled in clay to the scale of 40 per cent.

Tata Kite 4 cabin
Tata Kite 4 cabin

This is one of the lengthier stages in the development process as it is from here that digital data is translated into computer renderings. This information is crucial as it will be used to by OEMs and vendors with data based on which they can make checks for production feasibility.

Tata Tiago Activ
Tata Tiago Activ

Once the clay prototype has been finalised, a full scale exterior model is developed for an accurate representation of the car. This is hand built and showcased to select customers, dealers and OEM suppliers. From here changes are made and finally a full production ready model is built.

Tata Tiago surface quality checkup
Tata Tiago surface quality checkup

Quality control
Now getting a prototype ready is one thing but making it look and feel right is a whole different ball game and this is where quality control comes in. This is where the manufacturer spends a chunk of its budget to working on things like grain selection, evenness of shades as well as finding a balance between cost and quality.

Tata Tiago colour swatches
Tata Tiago colour swatches

The transition
After visiting all the sections of the design studio and speaking to those involved, I took a more proper look at the Kite 4. I found that a lot of the design had been carried over unchanged to the production model. It’s a bit lower and has some fancy surfaces. On the face of it the Tiago that we see on the roads today gets smaller wheels and a slightly different dashboard compared to the Kite 4.

Tata Tiago colour samples
Tata Tiago colour samples

What next?
Tata had showcased a range of new cars at the 2016 Auto Expo and will launch all of them over the next one year. All of them have been designed by this team and across the three studios. If the Tiago is anything to go by then the next lot of cars to come should be even more exciting!

Photos:Santosh Nair and Venkat Desirazu

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