-Dr AK Jindal, Head Engg (Commercial Vehicles) Engineering Research Center, Tata Motors.
Design engineers can enhance several areas of the automotive body to improve the vehicle’s comfort and design. Dr AK Jindal, Head Engg (Commercial Vehicles) Engineering Research Center, speaks on the latest developments in automotive body designs which help the fourth largest bus manufacturer in the world to incorporate safety, comfort, reliability and profitability in its offerings.
What are the trends in automotive body design in India?
From a body design point of view, it is aerodynamics, the shape, the looks and the feel. These parameters are becoming desirable to all customers. There is a shift towards good-looking trucks. Earlier, the body was made outside India, but now we see a shift in this trend. Once you have the complete cabin, there is a trend towards making them look good, so that is why we did the Signa. We did the cabin work for both the interiors and the exteriors to look good.
If anybody looks at the earlier pictures and sees the Signa now, they will notice the great transformation. Another parameter is driver comfort. We are now giving many of our vehicles expanded seats, so that they are comfortable, ergonomically designed, with adjustable steering and many more other things. Then, of course, we have the option of air-conditioned cabins. We also provide simple blower fans. Our main effort is to provide comfort to drivers as they are mostly in their vehicles for a long time. There are also many other things like sleeper cabins, day cabins, infotainment systems, etc.
To what extent is light weighting of an auto body possible?
Light weight is important. We use a lot of composites to reduce the weight. Composites are used in the front bumper, and the front grill. But because of Indian traffic conditions, and on customer demand, we also use a lot of high strength steel.
What are the challenges in transforming concepts to reality?
Some challenges are bringing in comfort at an affordable cost. Less weight is another challenge we face, along with the need to improve overall aerodynamics, and reduce the fuel consumption. We keep studying other areas to improve them and provide better value to the customer. Even quality is a huge challenge. To ensure that you have good quality, and less variability, we created a special team which looks at craftsmanship. This team ensures that different component panels of the body match well (so that they create a smooth surface) and there is no excessive flushness and inaccurate gaps. We check each and every component to ensure that it is in the mean size, and then based on that, we decide on what tolerance to allow. That is where the craftsmanship comes in.
Will your vehicles be safe during collisions, fire or any such accidental situations?
We comply with all the regulations, and also the international EC regulations. If the vehicle hits an object with certain energy, it will not catch fire. We have done lots of study on this aspect which will keep the vehicle safe even during a collision.In India, Tata Motors and Cummins Inc., USA, have a JV company called
Tata Cummins Pvt Ltd, established
in 1994, which develops high performance, reliable and durable engines in the range of 75 to 400 HP. These engines not only comply with current and future emission norms, but are also serviceable globally. The company has its state-of-the-art facility in Jamshedpur, aligning
itself with world-class manufacturing standards; Tata Motors consistently exceeds customer expectations.