Who is Tata?

  • Ratan Tata dreamed of being a fighter pilot
  • Now owns businesses with revenues of £3.5bn
  • Employs 22,000 people; group to expand further
Ratan Tata - owner of India's market-leading commercial vehicle manufacturer
Ratan Tata - owner of India's market-leading commercial vehicle manufacturer
Ratan Tata may be more famous following his company's acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover today, but he is no stranger to megabucks business deals.

In fact, he is also familiar with owning other former British institutions: Tetley Tea and the Corus Group (formerly known as British Steel) are among his portfolio of 96 businesses, which are valued at £12 billion.

However, he has taken a circuitous route to the top - the 70-year-old trained as an architect and confesses his dream job as he grew up was to be a fighter pilot.

Tata today
Today, Tata Motors is India's largest automotive company, employing 22,000 people and enjoying revenues of around £3.5 billion in 2006-07.

It is India's market leader in commercial vehicles, and the country's second-largest passenger vehicle manufacturer.

In global terms, it is the world's fifth-largest medium- and heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer, and the world's second-largest medium- and heavy bus manufacturer.

Its passenger vehicle production is heavily based in India, and is set to expand massively with the launch earlier this year of the sub-£1300 Tata Nano, which has been billed 'The People's Car' for India.

The future
Last year, Tata and Fiat agreed to build a pick-up vehicle bearing the Fiat name. It is sold in south and central America and select European markets - and many believe that, in the longer term, the deal may extend to Alfa Romeo using Jaguar platforms as the basis for its return to the American market.

Despite taking on loans reported to be around £3 billion to finance and run Jaguar and Land Rover in the short term, don't expect Tata's growth to end here, either.

The company already owns the Ritz Carlton in Boston as well as other hotels in New York and San Francisco, and its next target is rumoured to be the Orient Express Hotels group.

Tata Motors timeline
1945 Tata Engineering and Locomotive established
1954 Collaboration with Daimler-Benz to build medium-sized commercial vehicles
1961 Exports begin with the first truck being shipped to Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka)
1977 First commercial vehicle manufactured in Pune
1983 Manufacture of heavy commercial vehicle commences
1986 Production of first light commercial vehicle
1991 Launch of the first passenger car, the Tata Sierra. One millionth vehicle rolled out
1994 Joint venture signed with Mercedes-Benz to build Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in India
1995 Mercedes-Benz E220 launched
1998 Two millionth vehicle rolled out. The Indica, India's first fully home-built passenger car, is launched
2002 200,000th Indica rolled out. 500,000th passenger vehicle rolled out. Signs product agreement with MG Rover
2003 Tata Engineering becomes Tata Motors. Three millionth vehicle produced
2004 Tata Motors is listed on the New York Stock Exchange
2005 One millionth passenger car produced and sold
2008 Launch of the Nano People's Car. Acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover

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