Project Falcon is the name given by Tata Motors to the upcoming hatchback and sedan which will be showcased at next year’s Auto Expo but will only go on sale by October 2014. The Falcon is just a project code and might have come from the fact that Ratan Tata is the first Indian to fly the F-16 Falcon. The changes to both the Vista and Manza will be extensive (but the X1 platform will be retained), with an all new exterior, maybe like the concept showcased earlier (pictured above). Crucially though, is project Falcon enough to bring in the volumes for Tata Motors. Going by the spy shots, the immediate answer is no.
Just recently, we had a chance to see the upcoming Vista facelift (which is likely to be the Falcon 4) inside-out. On the interior front, heavy changes have been made to the dashboard with a completely revised centre console. But interiors were never an issue for Tata cars. Rather it was the exterior. If the spy shots of the existing on-test Vista are carefully analysed, one will quickly notice it still carries the basic shape of the car. The problem lies there. The Vista needs to look sporty not muscular. It doesn’t need any sort of chrome treatment on the exteriors to lure buyers.
Even on the mechanical front, the Vista and Manza don’t need updates as borrowing Fiat’s engines has saved Tata Motors a huge sum of money and effort (in R&D). The company was the first to kick start the sub 4-metre compact sedan segment but has been too late to leverage it and the Manza CS is still not launched. The difference between Tata Motors and other successful automobile companies (Hyundai, Honda, Maruti Suzuki) is primarily the time taken for product development. Tata Motors is just too slow while its competitors are super quick in bringing products to the market. Can you believe the next generation City is going to be unveiled later this month? No waiting for the Auto Expo for Honda.
So what does Tata Motors need to do to crack the market. Stuff like HORIZONEXT is good only on paper but there was no substantial update to any car. The company needs to concentrate on one car at a time rather than updating 8 models with minuscule changes. Why did the Safari Storme get launched in 2012 when it was originally supposed to hit the market in 2007? Why is the Aria facelift still not launched in spite of Geneva Motor Show seeing the public debut of the car? What is taking Tata Motors so long to put an openable boot to the Nano? Why is the Safari Storme not getting an automatic gearbox? No one has the answers to these questions, not you, not me, not Tata Motors.
Tata Motors simply needs to pull a leaf out of its own automobile subsidiary, Jaguar Land Rover. Why has the Range Rover Evoque worked so well? Because even though it’s not the best car in the segment, it’s the most stunning to look at. Thus more efforts should be put on design and styling rather than on minor facelifts every so often. Can you count how many times the Indigo has gone under the scalpel? And yet it looks the very same. It’s high time Tata Motors takes a huge leap because in the past few years, we have seen some great products hit the Indian market and none of them were from Tata Motors!