Tata Motors is working on a premium SUV, which will sit well above the Indian automaker’s currently flagship product, the Aria crossover. The new SUV, codenamed the Q5, will be built on the current-gen Land Rover Freelander2 platform, and is said to be pegged between the 20-25 lakh rupee mark. The new SUV from Tata Motors could see the light of the day in 2017.
The new SUV will be built under the Advanced Modular Platform (AMP), which is Tata Motors’ way of emulating the Volkswagen group’s MQB and the Renault-Nissan car making alliance’s MFA platform. Tata Motors’ AMP will involve the sharing of parts and production facilities, in a continuum of what the car maker has been doing with the X1 platform.
Tata Motors will develop the premium Q5 code-named SUV with heavy inputs from Land Rover. Although the SUV is pitted to use the Freelander2 platform, expect significant changes and localization to suit the Indian market. Tata Motors acquired Jaguar-Land Rover in 2008, and has since been working to create synergies between the luxury marques and itself.
The car maker is already working with Jaguar and Land Rover for a new crop of turbo diesel engines for Tata’s future range of SUVs and crossovers. One of the new diesel motors resulting from the engine development effort is likely to be outfitted to the Q5 code-named luxury SUV.
All said, Tata Motors’ foray into the luxury SUV market is fraught with challenges. The automaker, still known as the maker of cut price products that pre-dominate the cabbie segment, hasn’t found acceptance among premium car buyers. The flagship Aria, whose prices nudge the 20 lakh rupee mark in certain parts of India, has bombed at the hustings.
The crossover’s failure can be attributed to the lack of strength in the Tata brand, especially when it comes to marketing a product that competes in the luxury car segments, which have the likes of Honda, Toyota and a smattering of European brands such as Volkswagen and Skoda in the mix. Clearly, Tata Motors has some way to go before it can compete on even footing with other well known global brands.
From now until 2017, when the Q5 code-named Tata luxury SUV is expected to be launched, Tata Motors has the task of taking its branding and positioning upmarket. The car maker has been hard at work, to improve fit, finish and driving pleasure offered by its new crop of cars such as the Bolt and the Zest. A similar activity centered around quality is the need of the day if Tata Motors plans to build an image of that of quality, durability and finesse, an image that could make or break the new Q5 luxury SUV.