How did Tata Indica become the car of India? Well, it’s an interesting story.
Tata Motors was founded in 1945 as a branch of Tata Group, TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company) to manufacture locomotives. It collaborated with Daimler Benz AG in 1954 to produce commercial vehicles(lorries) in 1954 which ended in 1969.
Although TELCO at the time had been manufacturing automobiles for quite a while, their expertise lay in commercial vehicles, trucks, and UVs(utility vehicles). The passenger car segment was a new game for the company.
With the launch of the Tata Sierra, an SUV in 1991, Tata entered the passenger car segment and became the 1st Indian company to manufacture a competitive automobile on its own.
In the 1998 Auto Expo the second car from Tata Motors was launched, the Tata Indica. The 1998 Auto Expo was iconic in terms of the cars which were showcased that year as along with the Tata Indica, Hyundai Santro, Honda City, and the Ford Fiesta were displayed.
It was also attended by the big names of the industry like RSSLN Bhaskaradu (the then Maruti MD), Anand Mahindra, Rahul Bajaj, and CK Birla.
Ratan Tata, the chairman of TELCO poured his heart out at the unveiling of the Indica as he was proud of what he had achieved, this was the answer to all his critics and the doubters who questioned what he had set out to accomplish.
He referred to this car as his ‘baby’. The Indica completely stole the show as the design was just immaculate, nothing India had ever seen at that time. The hatchback looked like it had been teleported from the streets of Europe.
Tata knew if he wanted the car to have a chance of being successful, it had to be designed by a world-class design house so he entrusted the job to I.DE.A, a renowned Italian design house that created cars like the Alfa Romeo 155 and the legendary Lancia Delta and was involved personally in the styling of the Indica.
The name Indica was derived as an amalgamation of words India (Indi) and car (ca) and according to Ratan Tata, the car was designed to have the external dimension of a Zen, while providing the interior space of an Ambassador. It introduced with the caption “More car per car,” the ad campaign focused on roomy interiors and affordability aimed at rivaling the leader in the segment the Maruti 800.
When it was finally launched in the Indian market at a starting price of Rs 2.6 lakh, a worried Maruti cut the price of its bread-and-butter 800 by around Rs 30,000.
The feeling of patriotism and sense of pride helped Indica get 115,000 registered bookings against full payment within a week of its unveiling and within 2 years became the number 1 car in its segment.
In its 20 years, Tata sold over 15 lakh units and annual sales of Indica were as high as 1,44,690 units in 2006–07.
With the Indica, Tata even went international and exported it to Europe and other parts of the world. A big breakthrough was a deal with MG Rover in 2003 to sell the Indica badged as a CityRover for the UK market.
The success of Indica played a key role in the growth of Tata Motors. Over the years many variants of the Tata Indica were introduced; of which the Indica eV2 received much appreciation from experts such as Top Gear, Car Trade, and Overdrive, etc. as one of the best hatchbacks.
2002 to 2007 was the golden age of the Indica. During this period, other variants like the Indigo (sedan), Marina (estate), and CS (Compact Sedan) versions were developed on Indica’s platform.
The Tiago and the Tigor, the cars currently being sold by Tata, are a completely re-engineered version of the original Indica platform. While there is nothing in common between the Indica and the latest Tatas, the philosophy remains unchanged. Indian families still want a car that is as big as possible at a price they can afford.
This is the vision Tata foresaw 20 years ago.
Written by: Sanat | Edited by: Team FinMedium Research Desk
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Sources: Carthrottle.com | Autocarindia.com | Autopunditz.com | Wikipedia
Cover Image: Autoportal