As Tata makes headlines with the purchase of Jaguar-Land Rover from Ford, we've put together a short list of things that are useful to know about the Tata Group and its automotive unit.

1. Tata Motors is part of the Tata Group multinational conglomerate. Companies which form a major part of the group include Tata Steel, Corus Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Power, Tata Communications and the Taj Hotels. Tata companies together employ some 289,500 people worldwide.

2. The group takes the name of its founder, Jamsedji Tata, who founded the company in the mid-nineteenth century. It started off as a textiles concern and its steady growth as an indigenous Indian corporation coincided with the rise of Indian nationalism and rejection of British colonial rule.

3. A member of the Tata family has almost invariably been the chairman of the group. The current chairman of the Tata group is 70-year-old Ratan Tata, who took over from J. R. D. Tata in 1991.

4. Tata has been buying British since 2000 when it purchased Tetley Tea - which had been selling Indian tea to the UK since 1865. Last year it completed the GBP6.2bn takeover of Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steel giant that includes the assets of what was once British Steel. It was the biggest foreign takeover by an Indian company.

5. Tata Group's automotive unit, Tata Motors, is headed up by 63-year-old Ravi Kant, who spent eight months in London negotiating the JLR purchase with Ford. His personal motto which he repeats to colleagues is: "Let us remove all obstacles in our path."

6. Tata Motors was established in 1945, when the company began manufacturing locomotives. It was then known as TELCO and the company manufactured its first commercial vehicle in 1954 in collaboration with Daimler-Benz AG; mass-production of its first indigenously designed commercial vehicle started in 1986.

7. Tata Motors is India's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, with a 59% market share, and it ranks among the top six manufacturers of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the world.  In 2004, Tata Motors bought Daewoo's truck manufacturing unit, now known as Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle, in South Korea.

8. The Tata Motors Indica small hatchback was introduced in 1998 and was India's first indigenously designed passenger car. It is also exported to a number of markets and was sold in the UK as 'CityRover' under a rebadging deal with now defunct MG Rover.

9. Tata has developed a microcar, Tata Nano, that hits the market in the second half of 2008. It is considered by some to be the least expensive production car in the world: the price is about 1-lakh  or Rs100 000 (USD2,500). Tata's advertising tagline is 'More Dreams Per Car'.

10.  Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, the 'fastest Indian in the world', has been a brand ambassador for the Tata Group since 2002.

See also: HOT TOPIC: Tata buys Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford

Dave Leggett


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