Tata Safari Storme production halted: Goodbye in the offing?

Tata Motors could be preparing to say goodbye to the Safari badge. The production of the Tata Safari Storme has reportedly been halted at Tata Motors’ Pimpri factory, off Pune. Last year, Tata Motors pulled the plug on the Safari DICOR 2.2 owing to lack of demand. The same is likely to happen with the Safari Storme as well given the fact that sales have been dull for many months, and also because Tata Motors has readied up a brand new, 7 seat monocoque SUV called the Gravitas. The Gravitas, likely to be the Safari Storme’s replacement, will be launched early next year, probably at the 2020 Indian Auto Expo. The Safari Storme’s 2.2 liter-4 cylinder turbocharged diesel engine is unlikely to be made Bharat Stage 6 (BS6) compliant, which means that come April 2020, Tata won’t be able to sell the Safari Storme in India.

 

The 2.2 liter VariCor turbocharged diesel engine that powers the Safari Storme is available in two states of tune: 148 Bhp-320 Nm and 154 Bhp-400 Nm. While the engine in the lower state of tune gets a 5 speed manual gearbox, the higher state of tune gets a 6 speed manual gearbox. A rear wheel drive layout is standard with the lower state of tune while the higher state of tune gets a four wheel drive transfer case as an option. The same powertrain is offered in the Tata Hexa crossover, with an additional option of a 6 speed torque converter automatic gearbox. Given the fact that Tata Motors supplies the Safari Storme 4X4 to the Indian army as a personnel carrier, some amount of production may take place even after the BS6 norms come into place as army vehicles need not be registered at RTOs, and can have different specifications. The SUV is likely to be discontinued from the civilian market.

It would be interesting to what Tata Motors does with the Hexa crossover, which also uses the same 2.2 liter VariCor turbo diesel engine. Would the automaker move the Hexa to the 2 liter Fiat Multijet turbo diesel engine, which will soon become BS6 compliant,  or will it discontinue the crossover altogether, or will it make the 2.2 liter VariCor diesel engine BS6 compliant? The first option seems attractive on the surface but there will be significant re-engineering needed to adapt the transversely mounted (east-west mounting) Fiat Multijet engine to the Hexa, which currently runs the 2.2 liter diesel that gets a longitudinal (north-south) mounting. The Harrier is front wheel driven while the Hexa is rear wheel driven. So, the upcoming Tata Gravitas could replace the Hexa as well if Tata Motors chooses to not make the 2.2 liter VariCor diesel engine BS6 compliant.