Ever since Gen. V. K. Singh, in a press interview,claimed to have been offered a bribe of Rs 14 crores, for clearing the purchase of particular brand of trucks for the Indian army, the name Tatra has almost become a household name. It is the name of the truck,for whose clearance the General was offered bribe. But for the General hardly anyone knew that the army was using trucks by the name Tatra.
Tatra is a vehicle manufacturer based in the Czech Republic. It is interesting to know that the company was established in 1850 under the name of Schustala &Company, by its founder, Ignac Sustala(1822-1891). It used to manufacture wagon and carriages. However in 1897, it had the distinction of manufacturing the first motor car in middle Europe named Prasidant. It is the third oldest car manufacturer in the world. In 1919 it started using the name Tatra on its vehicles. In fact Tatra is the name of the adjacent Tatra mountains in Slovekia . It stopped the manufacture of passenger cars in 1999. However it has continued with the manufacture of a variety of Tatra truck models.
The company made a series of Tatra brand passenger cars with improvements in every subsequent model. Beginning with the revolutionary model Tatra 11, launched in 1923, it incorporated technical advances in progressive models and had the distinction of producing streamlined and the world’s first aerodynamic car Tatra T77 in 1934.The iconic Beetle model of Volkswagen ,bore a striking resembllance to theTatra V570 model. Tatra launched a suit against Volkswagen. In 1961, in an out of court settlement,
All the while Tatra was producing cars,trucks and buses. In 1945 it was nationalized by the Czech Govt, In 1951,it was decided that the cars would be produced at the country’s Skoda plant and Tatra would concentrate on production of trucks, buses and railway equipment. However in 1954 it was again asked to make cars, which it continued doing till 1999,when it stopped the production of cars altogether.
Tatra manufactured its first flat bed truck in 1898 and it could carry a load of 2.5 MT.It manufactured its first bus in 1910. In 1919 its TL4 model truck carried the name Tatra for the first time.The company kept improving its models both for their load carrying capacity and power output. Its trucks found increasing use in the armies esp. of Germany and Russia during both the World Wars and after.In 1967 it produced a truck T813,which could tow loads upto100 tons and also introduced the concept of cabin over engine.It has continuously improved its truck technology and come out with versatile truck models.
The Indian Govt placed an order for 1070 tucks in 2002. In 2010, the Govt again placed an order for 788 trucks. In India the Tatra trucks are manufactured in collaboration with the public sector Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Banglore.
However allegations of corruption have been made by a Mumbai based paper in 2011 and recently by General V K Singh in the clearance of these trucks for use by the Indian army.