Not content with just India, Mumbai-based Tata Group, the maker of the $2,500 Nano small car, is developing a small car for China.
Also, Nanjing Tata AutoComp Systems was to begin supplying automotive interior plastic products this month.
Tata Group's automotive product development and manufacturing arm, Pune, India-based Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd. (known as Taco), has entered a partnership with sister firm Incat International plc, which provides engineering and information technology services. The alliance has won a new project for the complete design and development of a vehicle platform for a leading Chinese original equipment manufacturer.
Taco spokesman Shvetal Diwanji declined to name the automaker, but did say the project will be for a small car for the domestic market.
``The project has already started, and the first phase has been completed,'' Diwanji said.
The platform is being designed and developed by a joint Indian and Chinese team based out of China.
The team is integrating components in automotive modules, offering ``radically enhanced manufacturability while bringing total cost of vehicle development services lower,'' said Hemant Mohgaonkar, executive vice president of engineering and techno- logy at Tata AutoComp.
Taco and Chery Automobile Co. of Wuhu, China, previously had been in talks, but Chery did not respond when asked if it is the Chinese automaker on the project.
Meanwhile this month, Nanjing Tata AutoComp Systems will begin supplying automotive interior products to Shanghai General Motors and Changan Ford Automobile Co.
Products include plastic vents, outlet parts and cabin air-ventilation grilles. Also this month, Nanjing Tata will begin supplying General Motors Corp. in Europe.
Rajiv Bakshi, president and head of Tata Autocomp's plastics business, said the Nanjing plant will supply global automakers in North America and Europe, as well as emerging markets such as China.
Nanjing Auto is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata AutoComp Systems, which is the automotive part-manufacturing arm of India's Tata Motors.
The company has completed the first phase of construction on the 280,000-square-foot Nanjing plant, which is expected to cost $15 million when complete. The first phase included capacity to make parts for air vents, handles, cup holders, ashtrays, glove boxes and floor consoles.
Within two years, the plant will double its capacity and add instrument panels, door panels and larger parts.
``This plant will be operated by local Chinese employees. Only a few of us have come from India to oversee operations,'' said Amitabh Mathur, general manager of Nanjing Tata.
The plant has a paint shop and all-electric injection molding machines, including presses with two-component and gas-assist capabilities.
In its bid to be a $1 billion global automotive supplier this year, Tata AutoComp cannot rely just on India and ignore China. To put it in perspective, total passenger-car sales in India in 2007 were slightly more than 1.4 million units. In China, total passenger-car sales in 2007 were more than 5.2 million units, according to data from Automotive Resources Asia, a division of J.D. Power and Associates.
Tata Motors sold 221,256 passenger cars in India in 2007. In the same year, Shanghai General Motors sold 495,405.
``We see huge potential in China. To us, China is not just a manufacturing base, but a window to the global market. Our investments are keeping this promising future in mind,'' Bakshi said.
Tata AutoComp has 30 manufacturing facilities, mainly in India, and has production capabilities in automotive plastics and engineering. It also has 15 joint ventures with Tier 1 supplier companies, mainly in India.