The Indian manufacturer Tata is known for making cheap cars – including the Nano, the cheapest car in production today. However, some help from Land Rover will bring a premium modern feeling to Tata’s upcoming SUV.
Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford eight years ago, and can use the current generation Freelander’s platform to develop a new family SUV, primarily for the Indian domestic market. The new SUV will compete with Japanese, Korean and European rivals, meaning Tata has set the bar for quality and refinement very high.
There is a new Freelander replacement due in 2015, possibly named Discovery Sport, so the Tata SUV could use the outgoing model’s architecture. This means that development costs for the platform will have already been amortized, and tooling would be readily available to be shipped to India, reducing Tata’s development costs even further.
The Tata SUV project is known as the Tata Q5, and is expected to feature 7 seats, placing the Tata SUV in competition with the Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Fortuner in India. Tata is also likely to take advantage of some of Land Rover’s ruggedness and capability to deliver a robust off roader for all terrain conditions.
The combination of a low cost, relatively modern structure, rugged capability and a premium feel should generate plenty of demand – particularly in India and other developing countries. Tata’s ambition to become a truly global company and its presence outside of India means there is a chance we could see the SUV in our local market. If so, the Tata could become Thailand’s cheapest 7 seater SUV, and become a credible offering along with the Tata Xenon.