K. Giriprakash

Bangalore, March 22 Bosch began work on the Tata Motors’ Nano project in 2004, with a simple brief: Components should be low cost, adhere to regulatory requirements and achieve performance targets such as fuel efficiency and acceleration capacity.

According to an internal newsletter of Bosch on the Nano project, at a technology meeting at Tata’s Engineering Research Centre (ERC), the Bosch team promised technical and innovative support for the Nano, confident after the technological forays it had made into the low-priced vehicle segment.

The first concept engine for Nano was assembled in 2005 at Coimbatore. It was fitted with the standard Bosch Gasoline Engine Management System. Despite hurdles, the engineering team from Bosch and Tata test-fired the engine, a two-cylinder 586-cc power plant with innovative crankshaft balancing mechanism. Bosch did the vehicle calibration. Then, Tata Motors increased the engine capacity to 624 cc to cover other variants.Bosch offered to supply the Engine Management System. For low-priced vehicles, Bosch GS division designs and develops the engine Electronic Control Unit. An ECU was exclusively redesigned for the Nano.

Bosch also tailor-made the starter motor and the generator. It matched the starter and engine speed and torque characteristics. While the electrical characteristics of the starter are entirely new, the mechanical system design is based on compact direct starter (CDS). The idea was to have the advantage of high volume CDS to reduce the cost. The manufacturing team too tried a new initiative of investing in a low-cost starter manufacturing line as per the Bosch Production system (BPS) concept.

Brakes: Bosch Chassis Systems India was one of a hundred suppliers invited in 2004 to develop low-cost products and systems for the Nano. Right from the initial mules, Nano cars were equipped with RBIC brakes. The Nano Braking System consists of a Tandem Master Cylinder and four drum brakes. To keep the cost low, the system was so configured that the conventional vacuum booster was avoided so that it would be comfortable for the driver.

Similarly, instead of calipers on the front wheels, cost-effective drum brakes have been used. All products were fully indigenised to meet the cost target of Tata. RBIC will also supply upgrades for braking system for Nano. An anti-lock braking system exclusively designed for the Nano is on the anvil.

Challenge of space

Mr A.G. Satvinder Singh, COO (Marketing and Business Development), Lucas-TVS Ltd, said the Nano has a very compact engine. The challenge of designing the starter motor and the alternator was to package it in the space available. Lucas-TVS designed a 60-mm starter motor and a compact alternator with reduced length to fit in the available space without compromising on the specifications. “The products uselatest technology such as gear reduction starter motor and internal fan alternator.”

(Additional inputs from T. Murrali.)

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 23, 2009)
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