Indica is the vehicle that put Tata Motors on the radar of the Indian automobile industry. It was the Auto Expo of 1998 when Tata unveiled the Indica. It was marketed as a family hatchback. The headline of the advertisement itself said: “You will never have to suffer a small car again”. So, people were interested in the hatchback. Before Indica mostly there was the Maruti 800 and Maruti Zen which were quite small vehicles. Here, is a video of the Tata Indica rolling out the factory.
The video is uploaded by WildFilmsIndia and it shows how the Indica was manufactured. There are workers working on the production line, there are robots welding and making the monocoque and there is a person who is making the engine. We also see Ratan Tata in the video. He says, “It is a tough time to enter the market hopefully the recession will not be there forever.”
Indica was a vehicle that was specifically made for India. Ratan Tata ensured that the Indica fulfilled the requirements of the common man. So, the car needed to be compact with good cabin space and should deliver good fuel efficiency. Another important thing was that it should not be very expensive so that the common man of India could afford it. In fact, Ratan Tata himself once said in an interview, “It would have the size of the Maruti Zen, the internal dimensions of an Ambassador and come at the price of a Maruti 800 with the running cost of a diesel,”
While Indica was able to hit all these points, there were other major concerns that came in the form of product quality issues. It was the first time for Tata Motors to make a passenger vehicle. The demand was very high and their workforce did not know how to ramp up the production while maintaining the quality. Till now the manufacturer was making trucks and buses.
Fortunately, Tata was able to fix all the glitches by modifying the production process and making the quality control more strict. This is when they launched the much better version of Indica called Indica V2 and it was an instant success. The Indica was the first vehicle from India to get rebadged and to be sold in the international markets. It was sold as MG CityRover in the British market.
The Indica was the only vehicle that was powered by a diesel engine in its segment for many years. This was an advantage as diesel was cheaper and returned more fuel efficiency. The diesel engine produced 53.5 bhp of max power and a peak torque output of 85 Nm. There was also a 1.4-litre petrol engine on offer that produced 60 bhp of max power and a peak torque output of 104 Nm.
The later versions of the diesel engine were more powerful as they got turbocharged and got a larger intercooler. The engine started producing 68 bhp and 127 Nm of torque. Also, now the gearbox was a 5-speed unit. The Indica was launched on December 30th, 1998 and it already had 1,15,000 bookings of Indica in just 2 weeks. The starting price of the Indica was kept at Rs. 2.59 lakhs ex-showroom while you could get the top-end DLX variant for Rs. 3.9 lakhs ex-showroom.