Two new car models from two
different car manufacturers--the Jeep Compass SUV from Fiat Chrysler
Automobiles (FCA) India and the Tata Nexon, a compact SUV from Tata Motors, are
expected to inject a lot of action very soon in the Ranjangaon facility of Fiat
India Automobiles Ltd (FIAL) and thereby change the dynamics of manufacturing
at this plant. FIAL is a 50:50 joint venture company between Fiat and Tata Motors.
The FIAL plant has a capacity
to manufacture 160,000 units of vehicles per annum. The plant which currently makes the Fiat Punto and the Fiat Linea, also
makes the Tata Bolt and the Zest.
It has been officially confirmed
that the Ranjangaon plant will manufacture the Jeep Compass (pre production of
the Jeep compass has already begun and the vehicle will roll out by July 2017).
But FIAL officials at Ranjangaon told Motown India that Tata Motors will
manufacture the Nexon compact SUV soon at this plant.
In a recent interview with Motown India, FIAL’s Chief Executive
Officer Gurpratap Boparai maintained that the Ranjangaon plant is
currently running at 40pc capacity utilisation levels. But if one were to go by
the sales records of both Fiat and Tata Motors, this figure could be a tad
lower. Going by the latest SIAM industry
figures, Fiat India produced a mere248 units in the month of March 2017 and a
total of 4700 units for the entire fiscal (April 2016 to March 2017). The
company sold a mere 3523 units in March 2017 while for the 2016-17 fiscal it
sold 5665 units only.
Tata Nexon gets ready for launch
While Fiat has not been doing well
on the sales front, the going has been very tough for two of the Tata Motors
products that are made at this very plant. It is rumoured that Tata Motors is
likely to stop production of the Zest and the Bolt and focus more on its new
range of vehicles which come with the
IMPACT design language and leading technologies. These include the Tata Tiago,
Tata Tigor and the soon to be launched Tata Nexon. The Tata Nexon is the one
that is likely to be manufactured at the Ranjangaon plant.
Tata Motors showcased the
Geneva edition of the Tata Nexon at the Geneva International Motor Show. This
sporty compact SUV features Tata Motors’ IMPACT design philosophy and comes
with unique design features that include a contrast tone roof colour, beltline
finisher and ‘X’ factor. Moreover, it has LED tail-lamps and stylish projector
headlamps with daytime running lights (DRL). The car is powered by a new
generation diesel engine with multi-mode drive selection.
Tata Nexon specifications
1.5L Revotorq Diesel engine
No. of Cylinders
Electric power assisted - Rack and Pinion steering
Length x Width x Height (mm)
3995 x 1811.4 x 1607.4
6 Speed Manual Transmission (MT)
Fuel Tank Capacity (Liters)
FIAL investment in Ranjangaon
Both the Tata Nexon and the Jeep
Compass would change the dynamics of manufacturing at this plant. The Jeep
Compass is being manufactured worldwide at four locations: Mexico, China,
Brazil and India’s Ranjangaon plant. That would mean that the Jeep Compass
would be exported from India to some developed right hand drive markets in the
world including England, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, among others. An
investment of US $280 million (approx. Rs 1800 crore) has gone into the facility
for its upgradation. “It is absolutely one of the finest automobile plants that
is there in India and also globally. I say this with a lot of confidence
because we have had a lot of visitors from abroad who have seen some of the
best facilities globally and they rate this as one of the best. Having said
that we have done a lot of investment in this facility for this product and we
set up a new body shop, we have upgraded our assembly line, we have upgraded
our paint shop and we are ready now to make world class products. That’s not to
say that our current products are not world class. The investments have been
made by the joint venture partners,” said Boparai. The 2 litre diesel engine
powering the Jeep Compass will also be made at this plant, he said.
Compass gets top notch production standards
The Jeep Compass will be the
first ever Jeep SUV to be made in India. The production techniques used to make
the Jeep Compass at the Ranjangaon facility are of global standards, never seen
before in India to a great extent. The body shop here is highly automated with
90 robots. There is around 65 pc automation with no manual intervention, with
precise hood and bumper replacement being done with plasma cutting, an industry
first. Plasma cutting is a process that cuts through electrically conductive
materials by means of an accelerated jet of hot plasma. As for laser welding of
parts, a sophisticated laser welding process is used while inner and outdoor
frames are stitched by remote lasers. Precision engineering holds the Jeep
Compass’ strong body together. Laser welding for doors is an industry first
with two stitches per second which is a fast and accurate process that improves
aesthetics, reduces weight and enhances durability.
High precision cameras monitor
quality real time. There is precise application of 85 metres of 2K sealant. The in line diagnostics is a
first for a “Made in India” vehicle, FCA India claims. Precision cameras verify
underbody geometry. Stringent tests only
allow the perfect underbody to move to the next process. Around 35 cameras
across the line check consistency. The result is first shot quality success rate
of 97pc, which is again highest in the industry, while competition vehicles are
at 80-85pc level.
Hot stamping reinforces frame
and delivers a complex shape. Robots usher steel blanks into the furnace where
the furnace operating temperature is around 400 deg centigrade. Heated blanks
enter the stamping machine. The Jeep Compass has 27 hot stamped parts, which is
again an industry highest. Amongst others, A-Pillar, B-Pillar, Door beams and
front rail are hot stamped.
Stringent quality audit
process is undertaken in the metrology department for the Jeep Compass where 19
highly trained professionals work on the Jeep Compass master body. The body
frame and parts are placed on the Meisterbock. The Meistebock is an aluminium
frame shouldering the Master Body. Every tiny gap and flush line is measured.
All parts are verified for flushness and flush precision of 1 millimeter,
Measuring machines gauge parts against original CAD design while three-Axis
Touch Probe system measures upto 1/1000th of a millimetre.
The doors of the Jeep Compass
are assembled separately. The material used for inner trim saves 800 grammes on
each door. The door frame is mated to inner assembly, glass and fixtures, interior
trim, firewall and cabling. The process is simplified through module assembly.
Door modular system is made up of long glass fibre reinforced poly propylene. The
single step production process with injection moulded interfaces results in typical
weight reduction of about 1.2kg per door.
The seats are assembled at the
supplier shop. The S frame in seat enhances support while the seat foam is designed
for longevity and comfort. Multi-step machine ensures perfect tyre alignment
and balancing. This multi-step usage is being
done for the first time in India. The complete tyre assembly is then sent to
the line for fitment.
The Ranjangaon plant now
boasts of a highly flexible engine decking system, capable to deck multi
variants and is also flexible for multi models. There is automatic synchronisation
of cart with vehicle body for 2 wheel drive or 4 wheel drive. Once the Jeep
Compass takes a complete form and goes past the final assembly, it goes for a
roller check, shower check and testing. The Ranjangaon facility will soon be
buzzing with a lot of action, something that had been missing for a long, long
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