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Old 17th February 2010, 16:02   #1
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Default Whats the logic behind poor interiors and ergonomics?

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My recent test drive of TATA Grande left me with the "old wine in new bottle" kind of feeling. The interiors were an eyesore - Ill fitting panels, shoddy switches and stalks, boxy dashboard, metallic hinges, below average seats, poor fabic quality and basic instrumentation.

Like me, most people that have reviewed TATA cars have the grouse that the interiors are always of poor quality. This is true even of the Manza, whose interiors though improved are still nowhere near the quality of the Hyundais and Suzukis of the world.

Is TATA unable to improve because of lack of local supplier capability? No, I think, because because desi manufactureres like Mahindra are able to source interior materials of much better quality. Though I wouldnt rate Mahindra Interiors as world class either

Hence its definitely a commercial decision to keep interiors cheap. So my questions to the forum:

1. What could really be the cost associated with getting better interiors? Is the a few thousands, tens of thousands or a few lakhs?
2. Why are interiors never majorly upgraded during a mid life refit?
3. Why did TATA chose to largely ignore changes to interiors while relaunching the Grande?
4. Does it make any business sense to compromise on interior quality?

Could anybody share their insights? I know that there is enough knowledge in here.
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Old 17th February 2010, 16:42   #2
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One good example of poor ergonomics is Mahindra Scorpio. The seats are placed too close to the doors, The hand rest on the doors and the ones on seats are at different height, on has to make effort to buckle seat belts due to the handrest, the seating position is too upright and this list is endless. Compared to all this Tata cars might have poor quality but they score better in Ergonomics.
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Old 17th February 2010, 16:57   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acidkill View Post
1. What could really be the cost associated with getting better interiors? Is the a few thousands, tens of thousands or a few lakhs?
2. Why are interiors never majorly upgraded during a mid life refit?
3. Why did TATA chose to largely ignore changes to interiors while relaunching the Grande?
4. Does it make any business sense to compromise on interior quality?
1. It is difficult to estimate the cost associated with better interiors. For an established brand it may cost NOTHING EXTRA! But for a manufacturer who is known to be making bad interiors, it can cost millions, which includes:
    • Hiring good/seasoned desingers or engaging design consultants
    • Training engineers to translate the designs in to manufacturable parts with good tolarences. Many good designs fail in this translation
    • Spending in good quality mouldings
    • using better grade of plastics/fabrics
    • Most importantly SENSITISING top management and the marketing division about 'good design' as they are likely to have strong say when it comes to colours/fabric trims etc. Not sure if you can put a cost against this
4. Yes, it may make business sense to make a compromise. It depends on how sensitive the target customers, how willing are they to pay extra (if required) vs. how much time/money the manufacturer is willing to invest.

Ergonomic part is relatively more difficult to get it right. Firstly, they work with mechanical constraints. Secondly, there is a huge variance in the body dimesions(it is not just the dimensions) and the manufactuer needs to know what is the best compromise.

Last edited by Guna : 17th February 2010 at 17:10.
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Old 17th February 2010, 17:06   #4
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in the case of the Scorpio, if they would simply market it as a 5 seater SUV with luggage stow area, I think a number of their ergonomic, comfort and leg room problems can be solved. But I guess they wont - given the tax/ excise benefits that they receive while marketing these vehicles as "people carriers".

While first class ergonomic/interior design plays a crucial role, I think (for the most part) our car manufacturers as well as car buyers are focused on cost, price, benefit much more than anything else including safety features and comfort.

We are certainly evolving now, but still have a long way to go.
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Old 17th February 2010, 17:20   #5
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I feel that poor intreior/egronomics are the problem because of the money we pay for the car.

If I want a capable good SUV/MUV around INR 10 lacs, I would definitely get a capable engine with robust build quality, but with average ride & egronomics (say brand M) or with average interiors & quality (say brand T). Problem is with my budget, which leaves the manufacturers with little margin (after considering the hefty profit they charge per vehicle). Even consider the case of Swift, the interiors are which are consoidered as good, but rattles start soon after you take the car to road, & rear seat confort is nothing to write about. Mind you that this car is costlier that Manza (much bigger + spacious, capable engines)

If I want all the goodies, I would have to definitely increase my budget, as an all-round product is not yet available under INR 10 lacs. Else, I have to content with what I am getting for the money I can pay.

By the way, even I am looking for Grande MKII or Xylo & I will have to content with what I get, as for the time being I do not think it would be prudent on my part to increase my liabilities.
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Old 17th February 2010, 17:22   #6
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Ergonomics in a latest model Santro Zing are also quite poor.

1. there is no place to keep a 1L water bottle. the cup provided is too short to keep a bottle.

2. my biggest problem is that the handbrake, which is used quite frequently, is too behind and low. in emergency, one can't pull it easily. the passenger will always get elbowed in this process.

3. the door internal handle is also too near the back and one cannot open the door properly. earlier designs (attached) were better.

UM
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Old 17th February 2010, 22:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acidkill View Post
All,

My recent test drive of TATA Grande left me with the "old wine in new bottle" kind of feeling. The interiors were an eyesore - Ill fitting panels, shoddy switches and stalks, boxy dashboard, metallic hinges, below average seats, poor fabic quality and basic instrumentation.

Like me, most people that have reviewed TATA cars have the grouse that the interiors are always of poor quality. This is true even of the Manza, whose interiors though improved are still nowhere near the quality of the Hyundais and Suzukis of the world.
Am not sure if Tata vehicle's ergonomics, instrumentation and fit and finish are that bad compared with similarly priced vehicles from Hyundai and Suzuki. They are at least comfy spacious and safe. Compare Tata with Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi and you can see a big difference. But then again, the brand Tata is known for its "value for money" and I guess this is the only way they can bring down cost.
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Old 18th February 2010, 05:30   #8
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I think it's simply a matter of supply and demand. If the sales are still strong even with the crappy interiors, then why make it better. The only way a company will actually improve their interior components will be if there was a way to make it cheaper, or at least maintain the existing costs. Would you pay 1-1.5 lakhs more for a Safari with a plusher interior, if you can get the existing one for the current price. Not everyone will.

Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to actually standardize the interior design and layout across the entire model line, and I don't know where companies like Tata and Mahindra are at in this regard. As an example, it might be simply cheaper for Tata to have a similar interior design for the Safari and the Indica, and even use the same components, despite there being a huge price difference between the two. Of course they can load up the more expensive model (Safari) with more electronics and other goodies.
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Old 18th February 2010, 11:23   #9
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@sujay: Tata is sharing interiors between the Indica Vista and Manza, as well as the old indica and indigo.
Instead, to differentiate between the two, it has made slight changes to the dash layout and space available.
Similarly, Maruti is sharing parts between the swift and the GV!

I think the reason for the poor interiors is because Tata has tried to make their vehicles feature rich. However, interior quality has improved tremendously, and is much better than the older variants.
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