Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tata 'Ace's the three wheeler space

For all those who have driven on Indian roads, 3 wheelers are a familiar sight on inner roads and highways. The proliferation of 3 wheelers on the roads of India are probably one of the causes of traffic jams (there are other, more fundamental, causes). (3 wheelers goods carriers are preferred over 4 wheelers because of cost, narrow roads, lack of good public transport and low total cost of ownership. 3 wheel autos run as mini taxis in cities).
The roads and air of many cities in India (Pune, Nagpur, Hyderabad) are none the worse for the proliferation of various 3 wheelers. Earlier it was the ubiquitious auto rickshaw which then became available in a goods variant. Then, there were bigger 3 wheelers that could carry 6 ( but carry 10) passengers and some goods as well, adding to the general clutter on the roads. Three wheelers also fall under some quadricycle segment which have lower safety norms.

The Tata Ace is a four wheeler in a three wheeler segment. With the Maruti Omni, which is the cheapest 4 wheeler cargo vehicle going. The Ace is an interesting vehicle. 4 wheelers are inherently more stable than 3, apart from the safety aspect. If these become more popular, then standardisation (vehicles of similar configuration) on Indian roads can increase. Lack of standardisation both in terms of vehicles (2 wheelers, 3 wheelers, tractors) and speeds is one of the reasons behind lack of road discipline in India.

While many companies have entered into this market, Tatas is trying to redefine the space with its four wheel offering. The 3 wheeler is way behind its times on roads and in some years, it has to be banned from the city areas (like it has been banned in Mumbai) and highways/freeways (Mumbai Pune expressway already doesnt let them in at all) and allowed only restricted areas of operation.


Gary said...

Tata ACE is one hell of a utility vehicle. Though, I am a software developer but one look at ACE and I know it was a dream come true in terms of safety (self and other on road ) And a good riddance from bulky dirty monsters three wheeler running on the roads.

Violet Jessy said...

Great post about 3 wheeler manufacturers!