In an effort to give Tata Motors greater economy of scale, the company will go from its current six platforms to two in the coming few years. These platforms will be modular in nature and will easily adapt to support cars and SUVs of different shapes and sizes.
The first platform is called AMP or Advanced Modular Platform. It’s conceptually similar to VW’s MQB and is made up if 15 individual modules that can be combined to form a car. The size is adjustable too. The floorpan can be adjusted for length, width, track and wheelbase. The track and wheelbase are individually variable by more than 100mm. The first car built on this platform is likely to hit showrooms sometime in 2018. Tata Motors CEO, Guenter Butschek, indicated that there could be up to eight models produced on this platform.
These models could be hatchbacks, sedans, MPVs and SUVs. As much as 80 percent of the parts could be shared by these different models. Key modules like the front and rear axles, powertrains, HVAC modules, etc., will contribute to 70 percent of the vehicle cost. The distance from the firewall to the front-wheel axis is the only portion of the platform that will be fixed, just like that on VW’s MQB platform. It will also be able to accept both three- and four-cylinder engines with manual and auto gearboxes. The platform also has a flat floor that helps maximise rear legroom.
The new platform is said to be lighter than the current one by 170kg. This will help improve performance and efficiency. There is also a provision to accommodate hybrid powertrains.
The second platform is based on Land Rover’s L550 currently used in the Discover Sport. This is likely to be used on high-end vehicles like the Q501 concept and will also include larger SUVs and soft-roaders. Four-wheel drive is expected to be an option, as is independent rear suspension and other high-tech features like radar-based cruise control.
Tata’s frame-based architecture, which is used on the Hexa and the updated Safari, is still relatively new and Tata could explore synergies with this and its Commercial Vehicles unit which still require a ‘load-bearing’ architecture. But company insiders say that there will be no new body-on-frame platforms for now.
With the AMP, Tata joins the likes of VW (MQB), Toyota (TNGA) and others who use modular architecture for their vehicles. Now it’s up to Tata to use this advancement effectively.