Indian manufacturers Tata Motors have quite the history under their belt, starting with the company's foundation in 1945 as a locomotive producer. Tata Motors is just one part of the business group Tata, formerly known as TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company), which also has several other ventures, including a steel making plant and even a tea producing company.
Tata got into the motoring business in 1954 when it starting producing heavy trucks in a joint venture with Daimler-Benz AG. So, in 1960. the first truck rolled out of the factory's door in Pune, India, a copy of a German Daimler truck. Tata starting exporting heavy-duty trucks but for the local market, they had to come up with lighter versions because of the infrastructure of the country. The first LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle) model, the Tata 407, began production in 1986.
At the beginning of the 90s, the company sought to evolve and expand into the car market, and it began a collaboration with Cummins Engine Company to produce more efficient diesel engines. Their first car was the Tata Indica, a model that enjoyed an unexpected success both in India and on other European markets, despite the fact that car-analysts gave it bad reviews.
The Indica won people over with it's low fuel consumption and powerful engine. It was so successful that Rover began selling it in the UK under the name of CityRover. The second generation of Indica, the V2, was even more successful.
Indica's major success gave Tata Motors the financial power to take over Daewoo Motors in 2004, in a effort to take their brand more international exposure. Other surprising acquisitions by the Tata Group include Jaguar and Land Rover as of March 26th, 2008 for a net 2 billion US dollars. Lately, Tata has made known its aggressiveness when it comes to gaining exposure and acquiring new brands.
Tata Motors' financial power comes from the fact that its labor costs amount to only 9% of the profit, a reason for which many other car producers, including Volvo decided to move operations to India. Another important factor in Tata's success is the fact that the group holds several machine tools and metal producing plants, further reducing production costs.
Apart from this, Tata does not lack the innovative spirit, bringing to the world the compressed air car (OneCAT) and the the cheapest model ever produced, introduced at the 2008 Geneva auto show, the Tata Nano, a car which will set you back some $2.500. Also, Tata has expressed their wish to come up with a car made 100% out of plastic, in an effort to fight rising costs for metal production.
It seems that Tata Motors has the recipe for success and only time will tell where this car manufacturer will head next.