At the recently concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), Tata Motors Philippines was intent on setting the record straight.
Sounding exotic enough to be typecast as oriental—as originating from East or Southeast Asia—Tata has often been mistaken as coming from South Korea, Malaysia or China. But last April 7, at their MIAS opening day press show, they reached every corner of the large World Trade Center exhibit hall with the sound, if not the scenes, of their audio-visual presentation that declared Tata as a brand from India. Tata is the biggest local automotive manufacturer in India with sales of 494,000 units in 2015. Put in perspective, that number is 64% over and above the 300,000 vehicles sold in the Philippines last year.
Tata Motors Philippines exhibited nine vehicles at MIAS: six commercial vehicles and three passenger cars. Ironically, the mix reflects Tata’s automotive sales structure in India, their trucks/buses volumes outnumbering their passenger cars sales more than two to one. Of their nearly half million sales in 2015, 360,000 were in commercial vehicles and 134,000 in passenger cars—so, a truck maker, among the biggest in the world, and more recently a passenger car manufacturer.
From small to large, the six trucks showcased were several variants each of Tata’s Ace micro- and Super Ace light-trucks, their Xenon 4×4 pick-up, and their Prima heavy duty truck in tipper configuration. These surrounded the three passenger cars arrayed in the center of their MIAS pavilion: the compact Manza Aura sedan and Vista Ignis hatchback, both with newly developed body kits that could soon be introduced here, and the sub-compact Indigo sedan in taxi-cab livery.
This is the third consecutive year that Tata Motors has participated in MIAS. Referring to the Ace micro- and Super Ace light-truck offerings, in particular, Tata Motors Head of International Business for Commercial Vehicles Mr. Rudrarup Maitra said: “MIAS 2016 is an excellent platform for Tata Motors to showcase our extensive line-up of offerings which have been specially designed keeping the Filipino customer in mind. The products on display today, offer maximum value for its customers and are built based on extensive customer feedback. With new-generation products like the currently showcased Prima and Super Ace, we at Tata Motors are geared to cater to the evolving needs of the Filipino customer. “
Exhibited were Ace micro-trucks in rescue and food truck configurations. The Ace Rescue Boy was developed to be a first responder vehicle featuring a patented roof boat system atop a passenger structure kept light with mostly aluminum components. In contrast, the Ace Food Truck’s rear body is constructed of rust-resistant stainless-steel that unfolds/expands into a spacious kitchen counter for secure transport and quick deployment into safe, stationary service. The variants are built with Ace cabs and chassis brought in direct from India and featuring a remarkable 702cc two-cylinder diesel engine that delivers 16hp through a rugged 4-speed manual gearbox.
The larger Super Ace light-truck offerings featured passenger rear bodies built by Centro to Tata Motors specifications. There was the passenger van, a high-riding, dual AC transport with jeepney-style side-facing seats that could accommodate 14 people in the rear, and the Ace in school bus configuration with a rear body featuring mandated front-facing seats and a curb-side door. The Super Ace light-truck is more of a mainstream inter-town transport with a rugged 1.4L turbodiesel with conventional yet also more reliable indirect fuel injection.
The Tata Xenon XT 4×4 mid-size pick-up was exhibited with an aftermarket sports bar and roof mounted fog lamps to highlight how the solid utility vehicle may readily be rendered more aggressive, more sporty. To be launched this year is their Prima heavy truck in construction dump-truck configuration but which, in tractor-truck form, also figures in Tata’s T1 truck races in India.
Gracing the opening of the Tata Motors pavilion on day one of MIAS was Kim “Kuya Kim” Atienza who underscored how the carmaker’s history in rugged utility vehicles pervades even their newer, lighter truck and passenger car models. In his words, an equation: “Tibay, tiwala, Tata.”