By Oliver Hall
The world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, couldn’t have been made without the collective effort of some of the biggest and best tyres and component suppliers in the world.
From tyres to air conditioning, the big names used their joint ingenuity to find low cost solutions to producing the £1,400 run-around which was launched in India last week.
India’s largest tyres manufacturer became the exclusive partner in development of the tyres for the first lot of cars. MRF used tubeless tyres of different widths for the front and the rear.
Their brief was three-pronged — low rolling resistance for better efficiency, good ride and tyre life characteristics and a tyre setup that dials out any traces of oversteer.
The last part turned out to be the biggest challenge, and one of the reasons why a wider tyre for the rear was utilised.
Other big hitters who came onboard to make the project work included Bosch, who were asked to develop the engine management system for the car. A relatively complicated and expensive component in general, Bosch imported the control unit, sensors and actuators for the car.
For the Nano, it created a blink mode that allows for the car’s health to be detected even without a diagnostic tool. One can also know the fuel efficiency during the last five cycles. Despite trying to keep costs in check, Bosch also managed to have a limp-home mode in case some sensors on the EMS fail.
For a small car, a powerful air-conditioner that doesn’t sap engine power was crucial. Behr, the German air-conditioning expert was roped in to provide a powerful system that crucially didn’t sap the engines power.