Doctor V Sumantran, executive director, passenger car business and engineering research centre at Tata Motors, has resigned, citing personal reasons.

As head of the passenger car division, he was instrumental in the company's recent product strategy which launched new model variants on the Indica platform (basis of the now defunct MG Rover CityRover) and new engines for the Safari SUV.

Tata Motors was developing the ambitious 'INR100,000 car' under Sumantran's leadership. Other projects under way in the engineering research centre include the Indica platform replacement, due in 2007, and the redesigned Safari due in 2008.

Sumantran said he wants to pursue different interests. He joined Tata in November 2001 after working for General Motors' Saab division.

The INR100,000 model is very important for the Tata passenger car division because the company has invested a large anount in the project.

The car reportedly has reached the prototype stage though the company recently admitted that it may not be possible to meet the INR100,000 price target because of rising costs.

Meanwhile, the Indica replacement may be a little late when it arrives in 2007.

In a statement, Sumantran said: "It has been a privilege to have worked with Ratan Tata and to have been a part of Tata Motors during the turn-around phase of the company's recent performance.

"The spirit of its people is truly admirable. I will cherish many fond memories of their dedication and cooperation. I leave the company with a lot of goodwill and good feelings. I wish them continued success in their future endeavours."

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup