Tata Sumo is arguably one of the most popular SUVs by an Indian manufacturer. It was in production from 1994 to 2019. Launched as a ten-seater rear-wheel-drive SUV, it was primarily designed for military use and off-road transport. It saw great sales success with over 100,000 Sumo vehicles sold within a span of 3 years.
Many of us think that the name of Tata SUV was taken from popular Sumo wrestling. Solid build, reliable performance, and ability to go anywhere justified this reasoning as well.
But we were wrong all these years.
So, who is exactly behind the name of Tata Sumo?
Back in the days, Tata Motors was TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company) and headed by Sumant Moolgaokar.
The popular legend is that during the lunch hours, Sumant used to go outside the office somewhere unknown to his colleagues. When he started disappearing repeatedly during the lunch hours, top management became suspicious of his disappearance.
There was a grapevine that he is offered lunch at a Five Star Hotel by some dealers of Tata as a bribe. The rumour brought Sumant under the radar of Tata management and one day, management followed Sumant as he left for the lunch.
However, what happened next will give you the biggest lesson of work ethics.
TELCO CEO stopped his car at one Highway Dhaba, ordered food and sat with truck drivers who were eating food at that dhaba. He discussed with them what was good and what was bad in a Tata Truck, jotted down and came back to his office.
This is when the management found about Sumant's extraordinary idea to take first hand feedback from Tata Truck drivers. He used to share the feedback everyday with Tata's R&D team to improve upon the experiences of drivers. Such was Sumant Moolgaokar's zeal for improving the Tata vehicles.
Sumant Moolgaokar passed away in 1989 but in his memory, Tata launched Sumo. The name of the Tata SUV is based on the initials of Su-mant Mo-olgaokar. There is also a Sumant Moolgaokar Stadium at Telco Colony, Jamshedpur in his memory.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, third-highest civilian honour by the Government of India in 1990.