Ta-ta to foreign-made: From iPhones and EVs to microchips, Tata Group is taking a whole lot in their stride
One of the largest and most diverse business conglomerates in India, the Tata Group is aggressively moving to expand its portfolio. Often described as a salt-to-steel company, Tata is now getting started with making iPhones, expanding EV tech, and designing and making semiconductors.
As it stands today, the Tata Group is one of the largest and most diverse business conglomerates in India. Often described by business scribes as a salt-to-steel company, the Tata Group has a considerable hold over the steel, petroleum vehicles and software businesses in India. Now the industrial giant is in the process of expanding beyond its traditional businesses, rapidly.
Tata is aggressively expanding its existing portfolio of businesses and plans to make some major moves in the electronics, EV, and semiconductor industries.
From your iPhones and other personal devices to the EVs that you drive, here’s how Tata is making headways in electronics, EVs and the silicon business, and planning to be at the centre of it all.
From Assembling iPhones to making components for Apple
Tata is the only Indian company that is actually involved in the manufacturing process of iPhones in India. At the time of writing this piece, Tata Electronics is in the process of completing its takeover of Wistron’s iPhone manufacturing plant in Kolar. With this, Tata will become the first Indian company to have an assembly line dedicated to iPhones. But that’s not where the story ends. Tata may also be in the process of setting up their own assembly lines, not just for iPhones but other Apple devices as well. Apple’s shift away from China to India, has coincides with the time when Tata is showcasing its manufacturing, supply chain management, and technological prowess, all at the same time.
While Tata, for now, is limited to assembling iPhones for Apple, they may soon be roped in to manufacture basic components for Apple as well. This will include, but will not be limited to displays, camera units, microchips, and networking solutions.
In 2021, Tata Electronics entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government of Tamil Nadu. The purpose of this agreement was to establish a facility for manufacturing phone components, involving an investment of Rs 4,684 crore. This initiative is projected to create employment opportunities for over 18,000 individuals at the plant.
Other manufacturing partnerships are possibly on the way
According to people from Foxconn, Wistron and several other manufacturers to whom Apple has outsourced manufacturing its components to, Apple is one of the most demanding companies to work with. As a result, the QC or quality control on the devices is exceptionally well, something that a lot of other manufacturers are actively looking for.
With the Tata Group already working for Apple’s iPhones, it is also possible that other device manufacturers turn to Tata Electronics, to manufacture or assemble devices for them.
From what has been said publicly and off the record by people in key positions at Tata, it seems that the industrial giant is looking to become a major turnkey solution provider to device manufacturers across the world.
TATA IN EVS
$2 billion investment, and a new EV every two years
When it comes to India, no other vehicle manufacturers in taking EVs as seriously as they and it shows. For instance, by 2050, Tata plans to launch a number of long-range EVs in India. Furthermore, by 2026, Tata wants to transition from being a PV or petroleum vehicle giant into an EV giant and anticipated launching at least 10 new EVs in India.
Tata has set aside about $2 billion for the development and deployment of its EVs in India. As a result, the plan to launch a new EV model, every two years.
Electrifying Range Rovers and Jaguars
Tata has already made great efforts to electrify cars from Range Rover and Jaguar. Their portfolio of EVs in India clearly is the most expansive among all brands making cars for the Indian market. Tata, apparently, has dedicated $1.2 billion to the process of transitioning JLR from ICEs to EVs completely.
Recent reports have suggested that Tata is planning to set up an EV cell manufacturing plant for EV batteries. The industry giant is already in the process of setting up a plant in the UK, in partnership with Envision, one of the largest EV battery manufacturing companies in the world. For this factory, Tata is looking for options in the UK where it can set up its own manufacturing plants.
Once the plant in the UK is up and running, and has been proven to a be viable venture, Tata will also set up its own EV battery factories in India. Moreover, reports suggest that Tata is planning to set up a network of EV chargers across the country, much like Tesla has in the US. This will go a long way in helping EV adoption in India, by completely eliminating range anxiety, one of the biggest factors that have held back EV’s penetration in India.
TATA IN SEMICONDUCTORS
Designing chips in India
The recent pandemic and the subsequent fiasco with shipping channels and the global semiconductor industry proved to the world why it is important for countries to be self-reliant, and why counting on China and Taiwan for semiconductors isn’t a wise idea. Taking their cue from the supply chain shortages that almost every industry faced during the pandemic, Tata now wants to be a major player in the end-to-end semiconductor and electronics industry. Tata is currently scouting for land near its electronics manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district and is planning to set up an outsourced semiconductor assembly & test (OSAT) unit.
Tata plans to start designing and making their own silicon soon, mainly to be used for their own EVs and to be a designing partner for global chip makers. The first stage of this process is to set up an OSAT unit, which is also referred to as assembly, testing, marking, and packaging (ATMP) units.
This will allow them to assemble, test, mark, and package silicon chips, which are the basic tenets of engineering a chip. Following the government’s India Semiconductor Mission offering financial support of Rs 76,000 crore to make India a semiconductor hub, over half a dozen companies have shown interest in putting up ATMP units in India.
Setting up fabrication units
Tata also aims to set up its own fab and fabrication unit and has expressed the company’s intention to venture into advanced chip manufacturing. A fabrication unit is a factory that does the actual manufacturing, slicing and stacking of silicon chips to make them into processors.
Although Tata Sons chairman Chandrasekaran has expressed the company’s intention to venture into advanced chip manufacturing or fabs, there is currently no available information regarding the specific technology or nodes that the company intends to invest in.
What’s really driving Tata’s commitment to making India into a semiconductor manufacturing hub in India, is the fact that they plan to invest $90 billion in the next 5 years.
Turnkey solution provider to global industries
When Tata sets up their own silicon processing fab in India, they will not only be making their own processors but will also be manufacturing chips for others as well. To that end, Tata is already partnering up with global chip makers and fabricators.
For example, in June of this year, Renesas Electronics Corporation, a renowned Japanese semiconductor manufacturer specialising in advanced semiconductor solutions, formed a strategic partnership with two companies from the Tata Group, Tata Motors Ltd and Tejas Networks Ltd.
The primary objective of this partnership is to collaborate on the development of semiconductor solutions for various technologies in the automotive, IoT, and 5G systems sectors.
Additionally, Renesas and Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) will establish a Joint System Solution Development Center in Bangalore. This centre will focus on creating comprehensive system solutions for the IoT, Infrastructure, Industrial, and Automotive segments, utilizing Renesas’ semiconductor solutions and TCS’ extensive industry experience.
HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
By entering into the semiconductor, EV technologies and electronics manufacturing industries, the Tata Group stands to benefit from its global market presence.
Once the group achieves success in semiconductor assembly and testing, distribution is expected to be facilitated by its existing global supply chains in other businesses. Moreover, venturing into semiconductor chip development will greatly support the group’s EV initiative, as semiconductors play a crucial role in EVs. Then, of course, is their upcoming battery manufacturing ventures.
If a sister concern within the group manufactures the chips as well as the batteries, Tata Motors will reap the advantages by eliminating concerns about any sort of shortages. Furthermore, a proven electronics manufacturing arm will be a great addition in making the Tata Group a 360-degree solution provider by allowing them to leverage these benefits, reduced costs and delivery times.
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