Tata Motors sprung a big surprise at the Auto Expo 2020 with the unveiling of Tata Sierra EV concept. When we sat down with Pratap Bose, head of design at Tata Motors, shortly after the unveil, we had many questions about including the underlying thought in resurrecting an old name and the production-readiness of his new concept.
This is Pratap Bose’ answer when asked why at a timeline when Tata is distancing itself from legacy brand names (none of the Tata Motors passenger car names from 10 years ago exist today) was the Sierra brought back:
“The Sierra is iconic no doubt about it, but it is also the one that has been away from the market longest compared to the other two SUVs (Sumo and Safari). But it has not left anyone’s mind and heart. This is a very phenomenal, crazy thing! Having not been on the market for a couple of decades, people go about it as if it is a current car. It shows therefore the profound socio-cultural impact it had, I think it’s a part of India’s collective memory, that car. Therefore we wanted to bring it back.
As you said bringing back an icon is always loaded with pressure as if you get it wrong you get absolutely hammered by the lovers of the original and anyone who is new to the brand, born in the 1990’s or noughties, who is about 20-25 today, it alienates them as well. So you lose out on both opportunities, and therefore we have treated it with a lot of care, we’ve not been a slave to the past, we’ve created this car with the spirit of the original and then one or two signature elements we can’t leave behind, but interpreted in a new way – you can do sunroofs today therefore this U-Shaped glass – that offers 180 degree vista.”
How challenging would it be to put the glass roof of the Tata Sierra into production? Bose answers:
“The Sierra electric concept is more of a study than some of the previous cars because this is not even a program yet in the company. I’m going to try with every bone in my body to make this into a production product. But true to what we’ve been showing since the Nexon concept (Auto Expo 2014), we want to keep as much of the (concept) car. I mean we don’t have an intention to produce it, it was literally a concept study (from the UK Design Studio), but apart from a few ‘concept element,’ most of the size, dimensions, wheel and tire size – it’s all very real. We’ve showcased this sliding door, that will give us some options to retain the rear glass enclosure.”
Shortly after the interview, I pointed out how Twitter would have played a role in him directly hearing the voice of the SUV customers and enthusiasts, Bose quipped that not a day goes by on his social media without someone bringing up the Sierra topic and that with the concept presentation he may have made his life harder as followers will now chase him for the real car!