Snapshot: After years of obscurity in heavy commercial vehicles, the automated manual transmission seems to be the new buzzword in the Indian car industry what with market leader Maruti Suzuki all set to unveil an AMT equipped car in the form of the Celerio hatchback. Tata Motors could join Maruti soon as the Nano is being tipped to be the Tata car that will hop on to the AMT brigade.
Tata Motors officials have been regularly throwing hints about an automatic transmission version of the Tata Nano. While the Nano’s conceptualization was tied closely to a CVT automatic gearbox, the plan was abandoned right at embryonic stage given the cost escalations such a transmission would add to the Nano, then conceived as a car that would cost no more than 1 lakh rupees, a factor that made the Nano the least priced car in the world by a mile.
Cut to 2014, features have been steadily added to the Nano, whose promise of being the least priced car in the world never really resonated with the buyer in the market place. Poor sales have prompted Tata Motors to abandon the “cheapest car in the world” path to one that aims to address city mobility with frugality and convenience as two major bulwarks. The Nano now finds itself in the midst of a major re-positioning program, one that aims to add a slew of features.
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One such feature is tipped to be the automated manual transmission (AMT). For starters, an automated manual transmission sits in between the manual and full automatic CVT/torque converter gearboxes. While dispensing with the manual clutch, an AMT makes manual gearshifting a clutchless affair from the driver’s standpoint. Since the AMT is not fully automatic, it also eliminates the complexity of fully automatic CVT/torque converter transmissions.
These twin benefits result in the AMT featuring a lower price tag and a higher fuel efficiency when compared with fully automatic gearboxes. By outfitting the Nano with an AMT, Tata Motors stands to retain the value-for-money appeal of the car – a core characteristic – along with a modicum of convenience, another core characteristic of the vehicle that is aimed at younger, city oriented car buyers.
Interestingly, Tata Motors is rumoured to have approached an Italian autoparts maker known for its automated manual transmission. With Maruti Suzuki sourcing the AMT for the Celerio from Magneti Marelli, an Italian autoparts giant owned by the Fiat group, Tata Motors is also likely to be in touch with Magneti Marelli. Tata Motors’ good working relationship with Fiat, Magneti Marelli’s owner, is expected to make the AMT sourcing exercise simpler.