New Model Army: inside Tata Motors’ clay studio

Tata Clay modeller at work

With a brace of wins at the CDN People Awards, Tata Motors has an enviable reputation for having one of the best clay modelling teams in the industry. Car Design News paid the team a visit in their state-of-the-art facilities in Warwick

“I always say that you will struggle to nominate a working-level function within an automotive business that impacts its success more than physical modelling,” says senior clay modelling Tata Motors Mark Welland. “The most important decisions are made around the properties that we produce.” Stood on the shop floor of the clay studio with a full-size property a few feet away, it is hard to argue to the contrary.

Yes, digital design tools are becoming ever more sophisticated, which has affected the role of traditional methods, but there is an emotive power rendered by clay that cannot be denied. When time is short, a well-resolved model can communicate an idea with a clarity and speed that is tough to beat. That is clearly Welland’s belief – he leads a team of 11 modellers with a broad range of skills. Tata’s global design director Martin Uhlarik is a believer too, overseeing substantial investment in state-of-the art milling machines that complement and enhance the hands-on activities of the team. 

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