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Old 17th September 2011, 06:49   #61
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Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post
It is a very difficult to strike the balance between cost & quality - those who succeed flourish.
Completely agree with you on this. Even Toyota, which has been consistently harping on the "Q" factor now "seems to" be facing some music around the "made-to-price" Etios. Striking the balance is indeed very difficult and I sincerely hope TML gets there.

And do I see myself buying a Tata car in the future? A couple of years back the answer would be a firm "NO", but I could be buying a Manza shortly, and be proud of it. Things definitely have changed (from my perspective at least).
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Old 17th September 2011, 07:23   #62
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That was quite an insight! Not surprising that Carl-Forester decided to quit.
Research and development seems to be a perennial problem for quite a few of the Indian automobile companies. In many cases they seem to be banking on a few established designs for core components of the vehicle, while at the same time tweaking the cost to be as low as possible. For example, an acquiantance of mine has a Mahindra Scorpio in which his steering column had to be replaced within the first week itself. I think this kind of replacement is unheard of in German and Japanese cars. The response from Mahindra service? - "this is fairly common in some scorpios". My friend tells me - "Well, its an accepted fact of buying an Indian vehicle". I guess we have become relatively complacent to these kind of quality issues.

I hope whatever Tata gained by having Karl as part of their team is not unlearnt. Somehow, when we hear the name "Tata", we tend to think - "Oh, yes, problems at some time or other".
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Old 17th September 2011, 10:55   #63
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Even the corporate communication from the TATA group was like an ad. I don't see anything in that statement other than a typical corporate statement. They have lost that feeling, urge to improve, prove to be the best, some time in between.
Corporate communication cannot be otherwise - it will all be tact and full of diplomatic words. But at least they thought it worthwhile to respond to this thread and that's a good thing. Now the effectiveness would come in if the feedback is taken back into the company and the top brass takes heed of the fact that the Tata image is being given a bashing in a public forum and they have only themselves to blame

And as carthick99 said, there are two sides to the coin and it would have been nice if someone inside was able to give an insight into the current improvements they have made or are making or are even planning to make

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Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post
For example a classical case - Alternator Mounting Bracket.
Wonder why all Indica fan belts screech - the brackets are manufactured on General Purpose machines & due to this the process capability for perpendicularity of 2 mounting holes is not good. So it becomes the end buyer's potluck. I designed 9 fixtures for this process. I knew the shortcomings of the process and the fixtures and desperately tried to convince them to shift to VMC(vertical machining centre) process. The capital costs of manufacturing the 9 fixtures would have served as a hefty capital subsidy for 2 VMC machines with 4th. Axis. per piece rate would have been lower & quality higher. But their ancillary dev. Dept. refused as they had a policy of vendors using only GPMs ( rajkot lathes, ludhiana milling & misc.).
Thanks for bringing this particular point. On the road you hear this sound and you know that there is an Indica somewhere. In fact this was part of my wishlist in an earlier thread by GTO about what all improvements we would like to see in a Tata passenger car. Wonder whether they have overcome the problem now!!
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Old 17th September 2011, 18:00   #64
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Hey fellow Bhpians - what started out as a thread on Mr. Forster's resignation has really turned into a full blown quality debate!


GTO - The head of Corp Comm at Tata Motors couldn't create an account in time for this message to be posted after he read this thread - so I'm posting it on his behalf.

Dear Team BHP members,

I take it that all of you are well-wishers of Tata Motors. You would like us to do better and that is the fundamental reason for your views and comments.

Without getting into specifics, your comments broadly are:

· on our product development, their quality, their communication, and the customer service that we offer

and

· on our leadership and intent


With best wishes,
Debasis Ray

Head - Corporate Communications
Tata Motors
Dear Debasis,

Good to have you respond from TML's side. I was working in TELCO from 1980 to 1983. A lot of the senior people in TML today, including Mr. Telang, were either my bosses or colleagues in those days.
Since 1995 I have been a vendor to TML, initially as a Fixture manufacturer and later as a Design supplier.

In the good old socialist(sarcasm intended) days of the early 1980s I had a bird's eye view of the problems TELCO used to confront & overcome. Many of these problems were due to the Govt. policies of the day which resulted in proper materials & technologies not being available. An example-- in 1980 a leakage rate of 1 drop of oil per minute through the crankshaft main thrust bearing oil seal (flywheel side) was accepted as a deviation as suitable oils seals could not be imported. It used to be a daily BP increasing event to monitor oils seal leakages, prepare reports that were monitored at plant head level.

Today TML has to compete with all the auto majors of the world. So there is no point in saying "we have improved compared to what we were". TML needs to overtake the others in terms of product quality. TML today is almost as good as medium level international benchmarks in terms of product design. And anyways auto technologies have been commoditised now.

I had tried a lot, particularly after 2002, to try and influence change in my own small way. Most of the effort was out of regard & respect for TML & Ratan Tata. And needless to say a lot of the effort put in was beyond my scope as a vendor and I did not get any monetary benefit from it, nor did I expect any.

Hope you are able to communicate the feelings of the members of this forum to ur top management. Possibly that could be the catalyst that brings about revolutionary change at TML.

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Originally Posted by 999 View Post
Thanks Sridhar for the insights. It was an eye openor.
We are not critisising TATA as such, or TATA haters. I, as an Indian, would love to hear a product from India appreciated else where.

Look at sridhar, he was a part of the problem, tried to improve it and finally gave up. Will he be a part of the good will group anymore? I hope he does. Wake up TATA do your bit. make us Indians' proud
Any Indian would love dearly to see TML become a world leading Car & CV brand. In this respect i would like to narrate a small story-

4 yrs ago my Father wanted to gift a car to my mother on their 50th. wedding anniversary. So we started to do the rounds of all the showrooms. We all liked the Indigo Marina, particularly the space & the fact that it would be a diesel car. Plus all of us wanted to do our patriotic bit and support TML. But our showroom experience was so bad ( handles coming off in the hand, doors not closing properly, seat belts jammed) that my father sat quietly for some time and then declared " it is my money and I do not want to spend it on such a bad car." So eventually he bought a Ford Fusion. But for almost 3 years he would call it "TATA Fusion". Such is the goodwill of the Tata brand and how the sloppy products are slowly destroying the Brand.

I had tried to initiate some incremental improvements, using up a lot of my goodwill with acquaintances inside the company but gave up when it started hurting me financially.

Let us all hope and pray there is a revolutionary change at TML as times for incremental improvements are now gone.
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Old 18th September 2011, 18:04   #65
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@Shridhar, I have already clicked the thanks buttons on your inside view of TML. The posts made me go emotional, but I am not surprised as there is nothing surprising about politics destroying professionalism in our beloved country. However, Mr Ratan Tata has a way out of this mess. He should lay out a vast torture track with rain, sand, potholes, speed bumps, twisties, and the works. Then invite a bunch of crazy drivers (could be t-bhp members!) to check out his drives before they are launched. Also he can give us his Safaries to abuse form Mumbai to Ladakh and back (umm; I have a selfish motive here ). All this could be done as a Statistical Quality Control (SQC) measure to check on design, production, and QC processes as well. It is never a good idea to ask a real customer to do the testing with his own money. The guy will never buy the same brand ever again in his entire life.

Idea borrowed from Annaji: if the TML head honcho selects and pays the Quality Control (QC) then you will get what is happening, but if Mr. Ratan Tata sends his gang of car users/critics/abusers/testers then the equation changes.
Finally, I must say that I am pleased to note that there are yet some people who will stick out their necks for the just cause, and I just hope this number grows.
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Old 19th September 2011, 10:22   #66
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Guys,

This has been an incredibly insightful discussion thus far. On a related note, some of us German car owners are extremely unhappy with the unreliable nature of our European cars. If anyone can share such detailed inputs into the problems that Europeans are facing WRT reliability, please post here (PICS : How flatbed tow trucks would run out of business without German cars!). Thanks

EDIT : Here is another thread (Factors Affecting Reliability) where inputs are welcome.

Last edited by GTO : 20th September 2011 at 15:00. Reason: Adding another thread link, thanks to Dhanushs
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Old 19th September 2011, 13:46   #67
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Originally Posted by gostel View Post
@Shridhar, I have already clicked the thanks buttons on your inside view of TML. The posts made me go emotional, but I am not surprised as there is nothing surprising about politics destroying professionalism in our beloved country. However, Mr Ratan Tata has a way out of this mess. He should lay out a vast torture track with rain, sand, potholes, speed bumps, twisties, and the works. Then invite a bunch of crazy drivers (could be t-bhp members!) to check out his drives before they are launched. Also he can give us his Safaries to abuse form Mumbai to Ladakh and back (umm; I have a selfish motive here ). All this could be done as a Statistical Quality Control (SQC) measure to check on design, production, and QC processes as well. It is never a good idea to ask a real customer to do the testing with his own money. The guy will never buy the same brand ever again in his entire life.

Idea borrowed from Annaji: if the TML head honcho selects and pays the Quality Control (QC) then you will get what is happening, but if Mr. Ratan Tata sends his gang of car users/critics/abusers/testers then the equation changes.
Finally, I must say that I am pleased to note that there are yet some people who will stick out their necks for the just cause, and I just hope this number grows.
I would like to narrate an interesting story ( sign that i am getting too old & giving grandpa tales - but what the heck!):-

In 1993 or 1994 my friend had purchased a Sierra. He had pulled a few strings and got a vehicle from the first few batches of vehicles produced. We did a couple of long drives (after strictly following the running in period). One was a drive to Bombay (in those days Poona Bombay used to be a long drive!!-7-8 hrs at times.) that came after couple of trips in Maharashtra & one quick trip to his factory in Goa. I encountered some brake issues during the descent to Bombay. Also we had noted a couple of issues during the various drives. We talked to our acquaintance in TELCO and he immediately called us for an official visit, with the vehicle, to the plant. A team of senior people went over our list of issues. They were aware of some of the issues(like lack of baffle in fuel tank which caused the engine to suck air in particular situations). They did a good root cause analysis and started working on fixes for the other issues. Most of them could not be implemented on our car but what the heck - we got right royal treatment and a thorough overhaul of the vehicle FOC. Somebody from their end would keep contacting us for updates. The vehicle had superb ride & handling, powerful engine which never quit on the road and huge space inside. Only problem was entry to the rear seats.


So having a outside team of users cum quality auditors is actually a good idea. And if they list the reported problems & corrective actions taken/planned on their website it would help regain trust in the brand and help improve their quality to no end.

Later on I will post some insights of how improving QC need not necessarily be a costly affair.
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Old 19th September 2011, 14:13   #68
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Just read the whole thing in one go.
@Shridhar: Thanks for the valuable analysis of TML and its products. Your posts were an eye opener to many.

What I really liked, was the head of Corp Communications of the group actually trying to reach out to us, explaining his part. Kudos to Mr. Ray and kudos to Team-BHP. This, in itself is a sign that we as a forum are being taken very seriously in the automotive group.

To TML: Best luck. We as Indian's would love to see an Indian company as leaders in the business.
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Old 19th September 2011, 14:33   #69
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Sridhar, like many other said here and by your thanks count, this has discussion has been very insightful. Thanks a ton for your time and effort in bringing out realities. Since you have considerable experience with other manufacturers as well, we would like to hear from you about them as well.

I was told that TATA distributes a few cars amongst its employees to provide feedback, report issues, etc. Is that true?
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Old 19th September 2011, 14:56   #70
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News in ET :19 Sep, 2011, 12.40PM IST

TATA-owned Jaguar Land Rover to build major engine plant in UK.

LONDON: TATA-owned luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is planning to build a major new engine plant in the West Midlands area of the United Kingdom.

The development, which is expected to take up to two years, will be on the i54 business park in Wolverhampton, confirmed as one of several new enterprise zones in July, according to reports.

Jaguar Land Rover was previously believed to be considering sites in south Wales and India.

It is believed the engine plant will employ hundreds of people as it has financial support from the government.

The business park is part of a 120-hectare site in Darlaston and Wolverhampton North, in the Black Country.

Ford currently supplies engines to Jaguar Land Rover from sites including Bridgend and Dagenham.

The i54 site is seen as one of the best places to put the plant logistically.

Jaguar Land Rover currently has factories in the West Midlands and on Merseyside.
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Old 19th September 2011, 17:54   #71
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Sridhar Sir - Now i am confused. Should i thank you or not for all the insights that you have provided. You see i already have a Vista which is 2 years/50K Kms old.

Thankfully nothing has gone wrong so far, so i can assume mine was one of the better makes of the lot or maybe it has reached the 50K point and anything can happen now.

On a serious note it was a enlightening read. Good to see the response from the Corp Team from TATA as well. Now to see action based on those words.

My heart says that my next vehicle would again be a TATA, but my mind has stored your posts and hope it would not prevent me from owning another one. I hope things improve. But now the question is who would tell us about these improvements as you are no longer dealing with them?
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Old 19th September 2011, 19:09   #72
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Shridhar, many thanks for explaining a different side to a car manufacturing business, and most of all, for maintaining an objective criticism throughout. It stands out in debates, a couple of notches higher. Thanks also to Mr. Debasis for appreciating the discussion on T-BHP about Tata products.

Though this may be unrelated, I want to recount a small anecdote: Two years ago as I underwent a project management training course, we were told about how Mahindras are implementing the latest project management techniques and routinely training their project managers in these new areas. Perhaps it shows somewhere in the bottomline of the entire Mahindra group. They are not only entering new verticals (from tractors and jeeps to passenger vehicles to commercial vehicles to IT and telecom to aviation and whatnot), they are making a determined effort to be at the top. They are the only Indian manufacturer trying to make inroads into the US, where the consumer protection laws are much stronger than in India, and any quality or manufacturing defect would be disastrous.

While Tatas have created new product segments with almost every product of theirs, I still cannot equate the performance of the Tata group to that of the Mahindra group. I personally think the man at the top can also make such a difference, by inspiring the people around him to perform better.
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Old 19th September 2011, 21:30   #73
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Originally Posted by chinkara View Post
1. Are autos included in this?
2. This number just keeps on growing and does not show vehicles being junked. So I have a doubt as to the accuracy.
1. AFAICT, three wheelers are a separate category for all purposes - driving license, permit, classification, taxes, permits ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post
Almost all the better manufacturers pay for quality & the systems that are required to attain the quality. I have come across quite a few chaps who said supplying 1/10th. qty to other car manufacturers is more profitable than supplying to TML. The others also squeeze - but with proper working and in a fair manner
I frequently follow the "jobs available" pages in business magazines, and now I know what I was missing. A proper vendor developer position in TML.

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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Corporate communication cannot be otherwise - it will all be tact and full of diplomatic words. But at least they thought it worthwhile to respond to this thread and that's a good thing. Now the effectiveness would come in if the feedback is taken back into the company and the top brass takes heed of the fact that the Tata image is being given a bashing in a public forum and they have only themselves to blame
+1 to that.

Several years back, when Mercedes Benz and TML parted ways, MBIL and German exes were all praises for TELCO (as it then was). Thej most relevant quote I will never forget - "They are the only foreign collaborator (ie., non-German) who actually learnt something from us".

Even after this parting of ways, I gather that MBIL cars were painted in TML facilities - at least, that is what I gather from business magazines. And it showed in the Indica version 1 at least, in the initial days. The painting was fantastic.

Later on, while shopping for my first car, I was surprised at two things - the Indicas (v2) on display / stock yard were not as well finished (no - not defective painting) as the earlier ones. Second, the highest end Indica was compared to the Alto by the sales people. But, feature for feature, in my mind, I was comparing the Indica to the WagonR and higher cars - the UVA from GM was also available. Now I know why the sales people were comparing Indica with Alto.

IMHO, TML has done a great disaster in branding and positioning both the Vista and the Grande - apparently complete deviations from their previous brands. This disaster is comparable only to the Zen / Estillo.

I was hoping that with the new CEO, such disasters would not occur. I even liked the "aria" name - it matters little whether the ex-ceo was responsible for it or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post
So having a outside team of users cum quality auditors is actually a good idea. And if they list the reported problems & corrective actions taken/planned on their website it would help regain trust in the brand and help improve their quality to no end.
Well, using unsuspecting customers as QC team is real nasty. Such comments have been made on this forum 3 years or more back. In fact, instead of acting as QC, they may (and actually have) end up as the unpaid de-marketing team.

There is a good reason I started this thread. This came a couple of days after I purchased TML shares (minscule amount - hardly INR 100/- in FV - lol). The Aria looked well built, and was hoping that TML had climbed higher on the QC learning curve. Was hoping that the expat CEO was teaching TML a lesson or two, and out comes this news.

BTW - the comment about identifying an Indica from afar. That no longer holds true. Nowadays, I tend to confuse the Diesel Indica (esp. the NA ones) with the petrol Nano. Honest!!!

Sridhar-v - about the comment you made about oil sump painting issues. We had freshly launched a Tata bus sometime around that time. The body was built for long distance operations (over night trip). It had tubelights to light up the interior. It certainly was a first in those days in this city at least. But we did not land the permit. What we got instead was a short route permit - 32KM end to end or so, and running approx 240 KM a day, against envisaged 400KM or so a day. Those were days when chassis has a waiting list of up to 2 years. The built for long distance bus", however needed a full engine overhaul in 3 months, and another in another 3 months. In next 3 months, the engine block developed a crack, and ultimately, we sourced a new engine. The booking for our next but- a yet to be delivered Telco Chassis was sold at a hefty premium and more than the premium, we were happy that the "tata" was off our heads. Related???

(Rest of the gang - do not start off "was TML so bad in those days too" kind of snide remarks).

Last edited by BaCkSeAtDrIVeR : 19th September 2011 at 21:34.
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Old 19th September 2011, 21:36   #74
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Guys,

This has been an incredibly insightful discussion thus far. On a related note, some of us German car owners are extremely unhappy with the unreliable nature of our European cars. If anyone can share such detailed inputs into the problems that Europeans are facing WRT reliability, please post here (PICS : How flatbed tow trucks would run out of business without German cars!). Thanks
Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
Sridhar, like many other said here and by your thanks count, this has discussion has been very insightful. Thanks a ton for your time and effort in bringing out realities. Since you have considerable experience with other manufacturers as well, we would like to hear from you about them as well.

I was told that TATA distributes a few cars amongst its employees to provide feedback, report issues, etc. Is that true?
Let me share my experience in one project:-

In the early 2000's Spicer India's Chakan project was facing a problem. The offtake from TML was nowhere near the original projections and they were left with a lot of idle capacity. So they decided to start exports of machined components. One of the components identified was "diff. case." - heart of the axles.

Now diff cases are one of the most difficult of all auto parts to machine. There are 2 semi-spherical profiles which have a right angle relationship to the halfshafts trunions & a further relationship to the ring gear mounting faces. ( Trying to explain it in simple terms. actually it is much more complex.) All these relationships have a typical cumulative positional tolerance of 50 microns(0.05mm). Actual values change from model to model. Anyways they managed to refine their process till a point where the max. variation was around 20 microns. They had been checking the
components 100% on a CMM (electronic coordinate measuring m/c. - pls use wiki to look up terms u do not understand, though I am trying to keep it as simple as possible.). But this was not possible to be done on routine production basis as the machine was required for other work also. I was called in to design a suitable gauge. I made a presentation recommending that they buy a particular (and expensive) model of CMM as nothing else would suit their requirements. Looking at the cost aspect they made me design a series of trial gauges and finally agreed that the CMM was the only way out.

So they put in the CMM, as advised by me, in an inline layout i.e. it was a part of the production line. At that time it was a revolutionary step in Pune, though I knew of it having become common practice abroad.

They had originally planned to export 1000 nos. pm. Seeing the setup Ford UK started giving them good orders. Incidently during the plant audit the Ford UK team had insisted on meeting me (even though I was an outside consultant) and we had a very involved Q&A session over a couple of days.
Based on the quality they started getting orders form Jaguar and in next to no time started exporting over 6000 nos. pm. So the investment in the CMM paid off many times over. There was a period in between when the plant survived only due to the export orders.

Anyway, after stabilising their exports to UK they turned their attention to Japan. Got a trial order from Nissan and sent a few lots, duly inspected, to them. Everything got rejected. Reason - unacceptable process variation. Now let me explain in in simple terms - (it is actually a bit more complex than this). My tolerance band is from 1 to 50. I am managing a maximum variation of 20 on components within the lot. So why did the japs reject the lots? It was something like this- The 1st. lot has maximum variation within specs but the mean of all components is say 20. The second lot mean is 30. the third is 14. Now as per the japs the variation of mean values across lots is coming to over 16 microns whereas as per their norms the variation should be much lesser. If I remember correctly they were looking at a figure of 6 or 8 microns. I.E. they were looking for process stability and repeatability to the extreme.

GTO - now you may possibly appreciate why the Germans vehicles give more problems than the the Japs. Something similar must also be happening in Electronics as electronics is much more sensitive to variations in process.

@moralfibre - All companies give out test cars to their employees. Though typically this is restricted to people in the development departments(so that proper feedback can be obtained) & the management's blue eyed boys. And most companies offer special prices for their employees.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
Sridhar Sir - Now i am confused. Should i thank you or not for all the insights that you have provided. You see i already have a Vista which is 2 years/50K Kms old.

Thankfully nothing has gone wrong so far, so i can assume mine was one of the better makes of the lot or maybe it has reached the 50K point and anything can happen now.

On a serious note it was a enlightening read. Good to see the response from the Corp Team from TATA as well. Now to see action based on those words.

My heart says that my next vehicle would again be a TATA, but my mind has stored your posts and hope it would not prevent me from owning another one. I hope things improve. But now the question is who would tell us about these improvements as you are no longer dealing with them?
At the time of purchase study the situation and decise. At this moment if you must buy a TATA vehicle go for the Manza as its engine & gear box are sourced directly from FIAT & it is also assembled by FIAT at Ranjangaon. That is the main reason its quality is so much better.
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Old 19th September 2011, 22:53   #75
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they were looking for process stability and repeatability to the extreme.

GTO - now you may possibly appreciate why the Germans vehicles give more problems than the the Japs. Something similar must also be happening in Electronics as electronics is much more sensitive to variations in process.
Vow that was quite something

But I doubt whether the reason for failure of electronics would be a manufacturing issue - it should be more of a design issue and the robustness of the components. I feel even if the components' repeatability and process stability parameters are met, the components will still fail. That may be the reason why, instead of various niggles you come across in a Tata, you have failure of components in German cars. That too same kind of complaints cropping up again and again
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