In the slow lane

Head of engineering at Tata Motors says UK auto engineers are ‘complacent’ compared to their Indian counterparts


UK auto engineers are ‘complacent’ compared to their Indian counterparts and have lost ‘the fire in their belly’ needed to compete with the emerging giants of the global car industry, according to the British-born head of engineering at Tata Motors.



In an interview with The Engineer, Dr Clive Hickman – who led the project to develop the Tata Nano, the cheapest production vehicle in the world – lamented the declining work ethic in the UK industry since his early career at Rover two decades ago.


‘I was really determined, along with my colleagues, to make a good product and get to the marketplace fast. That was the driver and we would put in whatever hours God sent to enable us to do that. I remember working late nights, all day Saturday and Sunday, because we had a fire in our belly and we wanted to achieve something.’


Hickman claimed that while he now saw the same determination among his colleagues in India ‘I think we’ve lost something in the UK in terms of that drive. Maybe I’m being unfair to many of my colleagues out there, but that’s what I feel.’


While Indian engineers would ‘put in whatever effort is required to be successful’ their counterparts in Europe had become ‘complacent’, claimed Hickman, though he said the prospect of bouncing back from recession may restore some of that fight.


During the interview Hickman also defended the Nano from environmental critics and revealed plans to launch an electric car in Europe. Speaking at Tata’s European Technical Centre at WarwickUniversity, Hickman also confirmed the Indian group’s ambitions to become one of the biggest players in the global automotive sector.




Click here to read the full interview with Dr Clive Hickman