Force Motors: Can the auto giant survive CAFE emission norms?

The company is ambitiously testing 4 new passenger vehicles, a 3-door, 5-door SUVs in two formats and a light truck displayed in the Indonesian Motor show. But all of them are with the same 2.6L Mercedes derived engine.

BHPian DRPSREDDY recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

FORCE Motors – Scenario post CAFE norms. Will they sustain?

Force Motors recently was in the news for the wrong reason, CAFE norms. Force Motors cars didn’t comply with the recently introduced CAFE norms and was recommended by the committee to be fined Rs. Seventy lakhs for not complying with the latest emission norms. The company only has diesel engine powered vehicles in it’s portfolio. Forgot about Electric or Hybrids, they don’t even have a petrol engine. They only have Body on Ladder frame chassis and don’t have any Monocoque chassis to introduce lighter and more fuel efficient vehicles. The company is ambitiously testing 4 new passenger vehicles, a 3-door, 5-door SUVs in two formats and a light truck displayed in the Indonesian Motor show. But all of them are with the same 2.6L Mercedes derived engine. They should have worked on the 2.2L, a relatively modern engine compared to the earlier one.

One major question strikes every one’s mind who has some thoughts about Force Motors is, how will they sustain in the long term? They have not begun testing any alternative fuels like petrol, hybrid or electric platforms or and signs of launching them forget about that, they have not even displayed any till date. This surely drags them into the CAFE norms net and will face huge fines in the future that will bring them into financial pressure as they grow their portfolio. That leaves me puzzled about their seriousness in the automotive world and the future of the division of their company.

Force motors testing atleast four different GURKHA based SUVs

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Force Motors is very small and will find the car production journey very difficult. Possibilities in the longer term:

  • Import EV drivetrains from China (like so many others) and launch EVs. EV batteries, controllers & motors are available to anyone willing to write a cheque.
  • Big partnership, stake sale or acquisition by another company.
  • Drop car making. Continue with just commercial vehicle segment & assemblies for others.

Here’s what BHPian diwakarmuthu had to say on the matter:

Apart from manufacturing, Force pretty much lacks in all other departments especially Design, marketing, service, compliance, PR, etc. They may cough up the fine and continue to work on developing a new engine (which may take a long time in my view).

Alternatively, why can’t they collaborate with Tata (2.2 Dicor used in Winger), Mahindra (2.2 mhawk that was made BSVI ready), Fiat or maybe even Ford (they continue to make engines from the Gujurat plant) and source a competent 2.0L or a 2.2L engine and focus on building the product.

In the past decade, I have not seen major investments from Force, so am not hopeful now as well.

Here’s what BHPian anajn_c2007 had to say on the matter:

Since it’s inception in 1958 as Bajaj Tempo Motors Ltd (Tempo is a registered trademark of Daimler) the Firodia family’s second and third generations are presently managing the company. The name was changed to Force Motors Ltd in 2005. It is evident that the company has synergy and is meeting the challenges the modern times and is moving ahead , full steam. Some facts about Force Motors from Wikipedia:-

In 2015, the company was awarded a contract by BMW, resulting in a new facility in Chennai which produces and test engines and transmissions exclusively for all BMW cars and SUVs made in India.This plant can produce up to 20,000 engines per year.The facility was completed in July 2015.

A new plant was inaugurated at Chakan, Pune in June 2016. This facility assembles and tests engines for all Mercedes Cars and SUVs made in India.The new plant has a current annual capacity of 20,000 engines and 20,000 front and rear axles.

In March 2018, Force Motors entered into a joint-venture agreement with Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG to manufacture the 10- and 12-cylinder Series 1600 engines (545 hp to 1050 hp) in India for worldwide supply. These engines are meant for power generation and under floor rail applications.

Like their bread and butter changed over from the Tempo Hanseat three wheeler (1958) ( known as Dukkar in M.P. and Chattisgarh) to the Matador (1969), the Trax since early 1990’s till Tata Sumo’s entry in 1995, the Traveller is now their mainstay that sustains the company. They have tractors and the UV’s Trax, Judo, Toofan, Cruiser and Gurkha their pickup variants in the portfolio that are not best sellers.

However, being in the automobile business for 65 years, hopefully they will be well prepared to bail out the company and meet the contemporary regulatory needs. But as we have observed, Hindustan Motors Ltd were in business since 1942 and Premier Automobiles Ltd since around 1945 and both were also family owned. But they failed to change over with the new age competition and perished in 1999 and 2014 respectively.

Hence, let’s hope that the Firodias sustain their decades old company and embrace newer regulatory initiatives for sustenance.

Here’s what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say on the matter:

Private passenger vehicles were never really Force Motorโ€™s thing. They were always in the transport and utility vehicles game, and they have always been good at it. We should not look at this company as a potential Tata Motors or Mahindra. Private passenger vehicles is a hugely competitive, complex and capital hungry business, and Force very well knows this. That is why they focus on only the select segments where there is minimum competition and they have synergies with their commercial centric products. And in these commercial segments, they rule the roost. Well accepted and hardy products which enjoy both customer loyalty and less competition. Private sales are added bonus and more about brand building. It is for good reason that Gurkha is widely considered the most hardcore of all off roaders in India, not Thar or Jimny or Fortuner or Endeavour.

If Mahindra runs on Scorpio and Bolero, if Honda runs on City, then Force Motors runs on Tempo Traveller. And unlike M&M or Honda, they enjoy an absolute monopoly. Traveller is essentially a synonym for passenger van in India nowadays. The new Urbania is a MASSIVE improvement in every possible way and is actually a passenger van worthy of todayโ€™s times. Is any other company lining up products to compete with that? Not really.

Overall, the company is financially healthy, profitable, competitive and well entrenched in its core segments and also has a diversified and well established โ€˜side businessโ€™ of assembling engines and powertrains for some of the biggest companies in the game.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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