While Martin Uhlarik, global design manager at Tata Motors, took office at OEM a few years ago, his teenage daughter advised him not to design any cars with an internal combustion engine. Martin had no choice but to follow him only partially because Tata Motors is still far from having a large portfolio of electric cars.
However, he wouldn’t take the risk of ignoring the essence of his daughter’s advice, which is to design cars that have less environmental impact than those designed so far. After all, she and her generation peers around the world will be buying cars in a few years. âIf you don’t understand your customer’s value system and don’t have a roadmap, you’re going to have big problems,â says Uhlarik, who also worked with global OEMs before joining Tata Motors.
In order to anticipate any issues in the future, and also to be in tune with the global need and trend for carbon footprint reduction, Tata Motors seeks to incorporate new concepts at the design and development stage for improve sustainability. These decisions will have an impact on the overall production and life cycle of a vehicle.
Sustainability is a “very big theme” at Tata Motors’ design department. âThe customer has to understand that this company is legitimate in terms (of engagement), it is not just a label that it is sustainable,â said Ulharik. Thus, what is examined in a more targeted way are factors such as the provenance and provenance of the materials, the power source of their manufacturing units, the carbon footprint of the vehicle’s production process and, possibly, the recyclability of the vehicle.
In terms of recyclability, Tata Motors wants to be among the leaders in the passenger vehicle market. âIn order to be a leader in this space, we design passenger cars to ensure a threshold of 80% recyclability and 85% recoverability. Almost all of our products perform well above this threshold and are around 95%, âsaid SJR Kutty, Director of Sustainability at Tata Motors.
In order to be a leader in this space, we design passenger cars to ensure a threshold of 80% recyclability and 85% recoverability.SJR Kutty, Director of Sustainability, Tata Motors
Last year, Tata Nexon became the first Indian car to be published on the International Dismantling Information System (IDIS) for end-of-life vehicles (ELV). IDIS, a central repository of âinformation compiled by manufacturersâ, is used by more than 25 global manufacturers from more than 40 countries in Europe and Asia.Carbon footprint
As the world faces environmental challenges like never before, organizations are setting more and more deadlines for achieving a net zero carbon footprint. Tata Motors is in active discussion to do the same. Taking sustainability to the next level will take time, however, and it certainly won’t be easy. âIt’s a tough job, but the company is very serious about it and making a plan,â Ulharik said.
His ministry has started to adopt new approaches that will contribute to increased sustainability. It began to adopt digital tools that reduce the number of clay moldings of key vehicle parts such as, for example, the dashboard. Some of the digital tools help reduce waste while others help the team reduce the carbon footprint as they can log in from different locations for project reviews without the need to travel across regions or regions. country.
To finalize an ergonomic proportion model, the team is now using advanced virtual reality (VR) technology to arrive at the final version. âIf I have the VR glasses, you will see what I see on the screen. If I’m seated indoors, I can go from Theme 1 to Theme 2 to Theme 3 immediately, and make comments. Different people can try it out and give their opinion. We use this tool for the exterior, for the proportions and for the interiors, âsaid Ulharik.
Punch has been designed over the past two years. It was in the transition phase, but when you talk about sustainability, it’s actually a technology that is now a reality, and it cuts our time and the cost of materials.Martin Uhlarik, Global Design Manager, Tata Motors
While the recently launched Punch mini-SUV has benefited from some of the new approaches, the next model series is expected to benefit more. âPunch has been designed over the past two years. It was in the transition phase, but when you mention sustainability, it’s actually a technology that is now a reality, and it cuts our time and the cost of materials, âhe said. .
Beyond the processes, the team is also exploring the use of more environmentally friendly materials, which could also come from recycled parts. There is a tendency to make products from recycled waste, for example clothes made from recycled plastic bottles. âOf course the auto industry, because our development times are much longer, it might not be that quick in terms of lead time, but the same kind of approach is what we’re looking at,â he said. Ulharik said.
In another part of the world, Fisker Inc.’s Fisker Ocean SUV, slated for launch next year, will feature parts made from recycled fishing nets in its interiors. As the world increasingly looks for ways to improve sustainability, such concepts could see an increase. From a design and product perspective, depending on the level of local sourcing, they can add a new design aspect to the same product in different geographies.
âYou could get a certain pattern, a certain color, a certain patina, and that could become your signature,â he said. Such cases could gradually increase as consumers also become increasingly aware and sensitive to the environmental impact of their choices; and not to mention the influence of different trends on design.
The bottom line
âThere are so many ideas, themes and topics influencing design now, be it technology, social trends, consumer trends, values, etc. which I have to say is probably more exciting than it has ever been at least in my career, âsaid Ulharik.
There are so many ideas, themes and topics influencing design now, be it technology, social trends, consumer trends, values, etc. I have to say it’s probably more exciting than it’s ever been at least in my careerMartin Uhlarik, Global Design Manager, Tata Motors
The auto industry is not the only contributor to carbon emissions, but it is the most visible. Given the size and scale of the industry, it can and should also make the most visible contributions to carbon neutrality. Otherwise, he might not find much support from a growing base of informed and environmentally conscious consumers like Ulharik’s daughter.