Tata Motors relaunches its 1.5-liter turbo petrol engine projects

Posted Jan 06, 2022 12:40:00 PM

Despite a massive surge in electric vehicles, Tata Motors will continue to invest in combustion engine vehicles; the 1.5-liter turbo petrol engine on standby will be relaunched to power a wider range of products

Two years ago, faced with below-average market performance, growing debt and a difficult future, Tata Engines had announced that it would reduce its capital spending on product development to Rs 4,500 crore over three years. That nominal figure roughly covered mid-life facelifts and product upgrades to meet future regulatory requirements, but it wasn’t enough to develop completely new models and engines. As a result, several programs were put in cold storage.

But, after a remarkable turnaround that catapulted Tata Motors into second place last month in terms of sales, and thanks to a successful outside investment for a new dedicated EV arm – Tata Passenger Electric Mobility Ltd (TPEML) – the company, now low on funds, has relaunched some of its pending projects.

Speaking exclusively to Autocar India, Shailesh Chandra, President of Passenger Vehicles Business at Tata Motors, said: [CAPEX cut] must be seen in the context where the company was in a certain situation at the time. Many transformations have taken place during these 18 months.

In fiscal 2020, Tata Motors sold about 11,000 units per month before the pandemic began, but today it sells about 30,000 cars per month. “Typically, we would spend 5-8% of our revenue on product development per year,” says Chandra, hinting at significantly higher spending on new product development thanks to the large increase in revenue from the company through a threefold increase in sales.

However, the turnaround is not the only reason Tata Motors is now able to spend more on product development. The recently secured first round of financing of Rs 7,500 crore for TPEML eased the financial constraints of the ordinary passenger vehicles (PV) division to allow further investment in internal combustion engine products.

“While the PV division would be sufficient to fund itself, EVs require a huge phase of investment and therefore the company cannot fund both the EV and PV divisions. This is the reason why we invited an external investor for electric vehicles, ”explains Chandra. A total investment of Rs 15,000-16,000 crore will go into TPEML alone.

Motor IC a necessity

Spending on combustion engine vehicles is a necessity, especially in the context of the Indian market. Despite government support and growing interest in electric vehicles, combustion engine vehicles are expected to remain a mainstay in India. Most manufacturers and experts estimate that the market share of internal combustion engines in the near future will remain large, at around 70-80%.

As Chandra added, “The problem is in developed countries where demand is saturated. Which means the electrification will eat away at the ICE, hence the ICE will start to shrink. In India, this is not the case; as electric vehicles grow, ICE will continue to grow dramatically. “

So, with the overall PV market expected to grow from three million to seven million over the next five years, and with electric vehicles accounting for 30 percent of the total, ICE vehicle sales will still reach a hefty five million per year. , much more than it is today. This is a market size that Tata Motors simply cannot afford to ignore, and therefore, to remain a significant player, engine development and the launch of new combustion engine vehicles is also a priority.

Our sources tell us that the long underdevelopment of the 1.5-liter turbo-gasoline, essentially a 1.2 turbo with an extra cylinder added, is back on the drawing board, along with other powertrains. Currently, Tata Motors does not have a gasoline engine larger than the 1.2 turbo, and the lack of a solid gasoline engine portfolio is a big weakness that Tata Motors is eager to address, especially since the rapid switch to gasoline powertrains will only accelerate further when diesels become even more expensive with the next round of emissions regulations in 2023.

So the 1.5 turbo-gasoline, which is expected to develop around 160bhp, will be a key powertrain for the larger vehicles, over 4 meters, that Tata Motors plans to launch. When will we see this engine under the hood of a Tata car? Chandra doesn’t commit. “Tata Motors has engines that are modular and therefore can develop larger capacity engines, and when we decide to enter other segments, we’ll keep all of our powertrain options open. “

While Tata Motors is tight-lipped on future product plans, it’s likely that the 1.5-liter turbo will lead the gasoline charge for the company, with a 4.3-meter-long Creta fighter – which we have. covered exclusively in the January 2022 issue of Autocar India – and sooner rather than later Essence Harrier / Safari.

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