New Tata Safari is rebranded Gravitas, based on the OMEGARC platform, will be Tata Motors’ flagship passenger vehicle upon launch in January 2021.
Tata Motors appears to be slowly gaining its mojo back. The homegrown auto major is ready to bring back its old true-blue SUV charm with the new Tata safari, more than two decades after the launch of the original model back in 1998 when the Indian roads had not many off-roaders like today.
In the 1990s there were not many functional cars on Indian roads, but by the end of that decade, the Indian auto industry witnessed a host of new cars dominating the roads. Tata Motors was certainly a major flag bearer at that time for the domestic auto industry with models like Tata Safari, Tata Indica, etc.
Now, after over two decades, when the Indian auto industry is full of exciting cars across different segments, Tata Motors is revamping its portfolio with freshness inducing global-level style, high-performance, host of modern features and technology in its new-age cars. The automaker has announced that it is all set to bring back the new Tata Safari. It carries a completely new design, more in line with the Tata Harrier.
At the Auto Expo 2020, Tata Motors showcased a host of the exciting model lineup, including some stunning concepts and production-ready models as well. The Gravitas was one of them and as it appears, Tata Motors is launching this model branded as the new Tata Safari.
The new Tata Safari will have electrification possibilities in the future.
The new Tata Safari is one of the biggest launches for the brand in 2021. It gives new life to the aging Tata Safari. Showcased at the Gravitas at the Auto Expo 2020, the new Tata Safari will be a seven-seater model and underpinned by the OMEGARC platform, derived from D8 architecture. It would share several features, powertrain, and technology with Harrier. The mid-sized SUV segment has witnessed a 100% growth between 2015 and 2020. With the new Tata Safari, the automaker aims to grab a larger chunk of this segment pie.
Tata Motors has also indicated that the new Tata Safari will have electrification possibilities in the future. The SUV will be launched in January 2021 and booking for it will commence shortly.
Talking about the SUV, Shailesh Chandra, President, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “The Safari, an iconic brand with a strong following, has been the most sought after SUV on Indian roads for well over two decades. In its new avatar, the Safari will appeal to the socially active, fun-loving customers who seek out unique experiences and adventure.”
Leading the innovations
If we talk about the SUVs in India, Tata safari will certainly claim a special mention. Introduced back in 1998 at Rs 8.25 lakh (ex-showroom), it was as Tata Motors CEO and MD Guenter Butschek has mentioned it, ‘India’s first true SUV’. Not only this Tata Motors’ SUV gave the Indian automobile enthusiasts a taste of 4×4 driving, but it also took the game one notch up for the Indian auto industry at an era, when 4x4s were not so common, and that too from an Indian automaker.
Undoubtedly, Tata Motors proved its manufacturing mettle beyond commercial vehicles with the Safari. It was a market-leading innovation from the house of Ratan Tata at that era. Besides that Indica was one of the game-changers for the automaker. The small hatchback was not only a loved car for the private buyers, but for fleet operators as well. It was one of the first small cars in the country to receive a diesel engine.
Tata Motors also introduced the Indigo sub-4 meter sedan, which was the first to launch in the segment in the country. Even the Nano as well, was a very interesting, practical, and unique car in its time, despite being a failure in terms of sales volume. So far, the homegrown auto manufacturer never shied away from taking risks.
As it has been proved multiple times, Tata Motors has a rich legacy to introduce new product innovations that have successfully created new categories and market segments. These include S-series of trucks, 407 in the ILCV segment, Ace in SCV segment, Tata Safari, Indica diesel, Indigo compact sedan, etc.
Fall and rise of Tata Motors
Tata Motors has been trying to make its cars as tailored to customer preferences, and it is working in favor of the automaker. During April-October 2020, while the Coronavirus was ravaging the country’s economy at large, overtook Honda Cars India to grab the third spot in the compact car segment with models like Tiago, Tigor, Altroz, Zest, etc. It sold 44,941 cars, as compared to 32,230 units sold in the same period in 2019 when it was in the fourth position.
For the last four years, since the new age models started rolling out from Tata Motors’ plants, things have been on right track for the Indian auto major. However, this was not the case always. Between 2006-2016, Tata Motors was struggling with sales numbers. The automaker was facing issues with passenger vehicle units. The Tata cars lacked quality, alongside cost issues.
The models like Indigo, Marina, and Indigo eCS that were underpinned by the Indica platform, couldn’t stand up to the competition they were facing. However, with the appointment of Guenter Butschek, Tata Motors actually started witnessing a turnaround.
From reporting Rs 2,800 crore in FY2017, the auto major’s turnaround story was not an easy one. However, the new TaMo CEO and MD planned a six-pronged attack – customer-centricity, the introduction of new technologies, top-line cost reduction, improvement of core processes, business models and partnerships, a streamlined and responsible organization.
The turnaround story of Tata Motors after 2016 can be divided into two phases. The first phase (2016-2018) witnessed structural redesign, replacing the outdated portfolio with more new-age cars. The second phase started in 2018 which saw a focus on redesigned cars adopting the Impact design language, a focus on self-reliance and profitability, enhanced synergies with Jaguar Land Rover, cost reduction.
The models like Tigor, Nexon, Hexa, Harrier, Altroz are the results of this phase. Besides emphasizing the compact segment, Tata Motors also started focusing on premium models; in terms of styling, features, technology, etc. The automaker is moving towards two new platforms Omega and Alpha, which will house around 12 future passenger vehicles of the brand.