In Her Smile Was A Universe Closed To Me

Sometimes I put on my walking shoes and take a stroll across the globe, metaphorically speaking. I went to India for this one.

2018 Tata Harrier: source

Tata, owner of Land Rover and so very much else besides, have unveiled the Harrier. Autocar India presents without comment the fact that the Harrier will be propelled by a Fiat 2.o litre four-cylinder and Hyundai provide the gearbox. Yes, yes, yet but who could be behind the styling? Getting past the principled matter of whether CUVs are any good or whether they are like arsenic in your maderia, this one is unusually restrained.

2018 Tata H5X: source

The image above shows the “concept” car it supposedly was based on. I think, I have doubts.  The “concept car” is almost probably certainly one of those after-the-fact designs, done to foreshadow the actual car. And given the calmness of the production car one wonders why they bothered. I can think of reasons even if they are a bit pretend. If the Harrier was far out then I’d understand the need to familiarise the customers.

Car&Bike says the Harrier is built on the LR550 platform (or D8, some say) which relates it to the LandRover Discovery Sport, in production for the last four years (they might not sell them in Denmark … oh, they do). And that drags the topic back to the initial question of who designed it. Without having an ounce of proof, might I suggest the Harrier is the brainchild of an LR alumnus or may even have designed by an LR team.

The Harrier is supposed to have the “Impact Design 2.0 design language”. When I went to find out what Impact 1.o might have been I found a link at Tata’s website to a blog about women in car design. This paragraph (below) caught my eye and, in fact, struck me as vastly more interesting than the Harrier article I was supposed to be writing:

Diversity is important as it gives us different points of view in a particular subject or discussion. Our effort in Tata Motors Design has always been to encourage the expression of diverse views and ideas. Women have their own unique perspective in approaching certain situations, and we benefit immensely from having this rich source of information and experience in our teams.”

Leaving aside the odd use of the word unique for half of the population, yes to all that. It is deeply strange that a branch of society could somehow fail to include any women to speak of. I immediately felt a bit better disposed towards Tata. Well done them.

Tata is not alone. Even if VW’s aim to have females comprising 30% of all management (eventually) is a bit on the low side (by 20 percentage points), it’s a worthwhile objective to begin with: “As we move towards becoming top employer in the automotive sector, we want to make use of this potential by explicitly advancing women, improving the scope for combining work and family, and making full use of the cultural diversity that exists within the Group.”

I like the bit about combining work and family though I think that needs to apply to men to as some men do also have families. That said, can you imagine F. Piëch accepting so low a standard for an engineering element of the cars? No, me neither.

Another good reason to have more women in the workplace is that it’s nicer not to work with only men if you are a man. Macho worksplaces are horrible.

2018 Tata H5X: source

Much as we bash GM for their shameless treatment of Saab and Opel, they get some credit for being not only the most gender-equal car company but also the world’s most gender-equal corporation. That GM is still a bit of a problematic firm indicates to me that even if you include a wide variety of viewpoints and cultural outlooks the long-standing corporate mentality can still win out.

“GM dominated the rankings because it’s currently the only company in the largest 20 in the United States that has both a female CEO, Mary Barra, and an equal number of women and men on its board of directors, the study said.They made a load of money recently too.

Back to cars. Why is the front of the Harrier not as awful as other cars’ fronts? My guess is that it is because the main surface of the wings, bumper and bonnet are still perceivable as one whole from which the grille/lamps, “fog lamps” and lower air intake are seen as cut-outs. Cue DTW mantra.

Flared nostril alert! (c) NYdailynews

Compared to the BMW (above, look!) the Harrier is more about graphics than sculpting.

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Sure enough if you take a careful glance at the LR images (source) above you see much the same thing. I quite like that. And that’s my evidence that the Harrier may have been done by LR. This is counter evidence: “Tata Harrier is designed at the company’s design studio located inside the Pune plant and will also be rolled out from the same manufacturing plant”.

Furthermore, the head of Tata Motors design department is not even an LR alumnus. However, Tata has a design centre in …. Coventry. “Tata Motor has three design centers around the world, one in Pune in India, Turin in Italy, and TMETC (Tata Motor European Technical Center) in Coventry, UK.   Tata’s design team headcount is around 200 staff in combined three locations, 120 in India, 50 in TMETC, and 35 staff in Italy.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

5 thoughts on “In Her Smile Was A Universe Closed To Me”

  1. “the main surface of the wings, bumper and bonnet are still perceivable as one whole from which the grille/lamps, “fog lamps” and lower air intake are seen as cut-outs.” This makes a lot of sense to me, and helps explain why I dislike so many of todays cars. The H5X looks better than the Harrier as it has stronger body lines (and less sculpting) between the various intakes and lights at the front, creating an impression of strength. This is something Land Rover seem to get right.

  2. I think the Toyota Harrier is only used in Japan as a nameplate. I guess that’s why Toyota didn’t trademark the name in India and allowed Tata to use the name ? A bit like the Renault Scala which I presume was only trademarked in India and allowed Skoda to use the name for its upcoming compact ? The French Scala was discontinued at the end of 2017 in India so maybe Renault doesn’t even pay to trademark that name there anymore.

  3. The lead designer of the H5X, at least, was Riccardo Angelini (formerly of Bertone).

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